P.M. Fiamē launches Pacific psychology book

By Alexander Rheeney 22 April 2023, 7:00PM

A book that its author says re-informs psychology using Pacific-indigenous knowledge frameworks was launched by Prime Minister, Fiamē Naomi Mataʻafa on Friday night.

The launching of the book was held at the Lava Hotel in Apia with its Samoan author and Associate Professor at the School of Psychology, Massey University, Siautu Alefaio-Tugia saying that her publication also discusses Samoan family's ways of life including faith as the foundation of the Samoan family. 

"This book was actually published on the 8th of December 2022 – that was on the eve my older brother, Faamoetino was taken to the hospital – and he had a stroke and he eventually passed away on the 10th of December 2022," Assoc. Prof. Siautu said. 

"Our whole family was in the dark and today we're only just starting to come out to rejoin the world when the world keeps moving on but on our road, it stopped. I always say to people that in New Zealand we have to be politically neutral we can't really side with the winning party.

"I love the name FAST Fa’atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi as it really does epitomise me. We're a family of faith and it's beyond religion, it's a faith in God that brings us together, and it reminds us of the way that can show the world a different way. If you want to learn more about the book, that's exactly what the book is about."

Assoc. Prof. Siautu returned to Samoa after she redeveloped Sailimatagi – which is a prisoner program based in Hamilton, New Zealand – for Pacific male crime offenders. On 8 August 2008, the first graduates of the re-developed program in the prison graduated.

Speaking at the official launching on Friday evening, Prime Minister Fiamē said she believes Assoc. Prof. Siautu has articulated through her book a summary of Pacific-indigenous knowledge, which serves as a foundation to inform culturally safe practices for psychology.

"The needs and crises of Pacific people such as family violence, education gaps and understanding shortness in Pacific health," she said. 

"To me, the exciting part is that Pacific indigenous knowledge, local understanding, wisdom, and Samoan tofa all contribute to the helping source of hidden homesick people – not only on island but also for local diasporic communities where our Pacific people have navigated and live their homes." 

The book also summarises Samoan concepts and terms that are synonymous around the Pacific to ground and understand psychology. It provides an overview of Pacific-indigenous knowledge as insights into Oceanic citizen science to inform culturally-safe practices for psychology

It profiles contemporary Pacific needs in areas of crisis such as family violence, education disparities, and health inequities and points to ancient Pacific-indigenous knowledge as tools of healing for global diasporic communities in need. The historic evolution of psychology’s knowledge base and practice illustrates a fundamental crisis in the method of producing knowledge for psychology – the absence of Pacific-indigenous cultural knowledge.

It then suggests more effective research methodologies grounded in Pacific-indigenous epistemologies and ontologies for psychology and overall community capability and fosters practice perspectives and strategies based on NIU-psychology (New Indigenous Understandings) for innovative solutions to modern-day crises of humanity.

Hailing from Matautu-Tai, Sāsina, Manunu ma Fagamalo in Samoa, Assoc. Prof. Siautu has published extensively on issues concerning Pacific diasporic resilience and well-being for over a decade. She is a Rutherford Discovery Fellow and Global Fellow of the Center for Human Rights & Humanitarian Studies, at Brown University. As a scholar-practitioner, Siautu has worked across various applied psychology contexts in Aotearoa New Zealand, Australia, and the Pacific.

By Alexander Rheeney 22 April 2023, 7:00PM
Samoa Observer

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