Valuable resource for Samoa

By Ilia L. Likou 21 April 2016, 12:00AM

A Masters’ thesis which examines Pacific mothers’ discussions of child support in New Zealand, was presented to the National University of Samoa library yesterday.  

Moeata Moore said she was both overwhelmed and humbled to be adding her thesis, “Family, Family obligations and money. Pacific mothers’ discussions of child support” to the collection had in Samoa, where her academic journey started and where she had completed all of her primary and secondary school education.

In his welcome, Chief Librarian, Avalogo Togi Tunupopo expressed his gratitude for the “valuable gift” which he said will be added to their library collection. He offered the use of the library facilities for Moore on future visits back home to Samoa.

Moore is a wife and mother of two children, a multiple scholarship winner, a University of Auckland graduate with a Bachelor of Arts degree, a Bachelor of Arts Honours degree in Sociology (with First Class Honours) and a Masters degree also with First Class Honours. She is about to undertake her PhD and she is a lecturer in the University of Auckland’s Sociology department.

Moving to N.Z, Moore said she had the drive to study, but didn’t find her passion until she took her very first Sociology paper.

“My position as a Pacific person – or Pacific woman - living in N.Z brought many of the sociological concepts and theories that I learnt in class to life and doing my Bachelor’s degree taught me what to think and how to think sociologically. 

“But after completing my Bachelors, I noticed an absence of any engagement with Pacific literature in most of my courses as well as a lack of any Pacific presence in the sociological literature – all the theoretical ideas and positions that were taught to me were largely Western ideas based on Eurocentric norms and values – so in essence I was being taught how to think sociologically through a predominantly Eurocentric lens.”

Moore said she never wanted to be a token Pacific person researching Pacific issues, but the truth, she said, lies in the fact that if Pacific people don’t do this research, they will remain largely invisible in the published sociological literature. 

“I knew that my thesis would have a Pacific-focus, and I was particularly interested in the way that family obligations for care and money were organised and negotiated in post-separation Pacific families in NZ. I was particularly interested in how responsive child support policies were to familial norms and values in Pacific communities in NZ. After reading Peter Dunne’s – NZ’s Minister of Revenue – child support discussion document, a discussion document which outlined the proposed changes to child support legislation in N.Z, I was surprised by the way he framed the changing nature of families in N.Z.

“My surprise was in the fact that when he talked about the changing nature of family structures and family relations he failed to incorporate the differential ways that Pacific families are organised and negotiated instead it was a one size fits all approach to family. So I couldn’t help but wonder, if policy initiatives in N.Z. are based on Eurocentric ideals and norms, what does this mean for Pacific people and communities in N.Z?

“So my thesis attempts to answer this question,” said Moore. 

In a question and answer section of the presentation to library and academic staff of the Faculty of Art, Professor Sina Va’ai, agreed with Moeata about the lack of Pacific literature used in the Auckland University in a city with a high Pacific population. 

She said that in conversations with Auckland University lecturer Dr Selina Tusitala Marsh, she had noted that there had been a shift to Western and Asian Pacific literature after the departure from the university of Professor Albert Wendt.

In answer to a question from Head of Department and Senior Lecturer Amituanai Vernetta Heem about quantitative rather than qualitative statistics, Moeata said she had been constrained by the structure and requirements of a thesis.

“I was only able to interview less than 10 mothers,” she explained.

However for her PhD, she said she planned to interview between 50-60 women. N.U.S. Sociology lecturer Mailo Helen Tanielu who is also an Auckland graduate, congratulated Moeata and said it was inspiring for her looking at young Samoan women.

“This is a real success story; one of the few that has come out,” she said. 

By Ilia L. Likou 21 April 2016, 12:00AM

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