Nga Vaka gives a comprehensive
overview of family violence and its impact on
Pacific peoples in New Zealand
Understanding that culture must be the basis for constructing any solution to family violence.
The Nga Vaka o Kāiga Tapu Eight Cultural Frameworks was born out of a collaborative process of regional fono and a national gathering called the Champions of Change fono led by the Pacific Advisory Group (PAG) to the Government Taskforce on Family Violence.
The participants called for the incorporation of culture as the basis for developing new and more robust programme approaches in service provision, and for Pasefika communities to primarily take responsibility for leading the development of a programme of action to prevent and stop violence in Pasefika families.
The Nga Vaka o Kaiga Tapu Frameworks is a Pasefika Proud initiative.
In 2011, Hon Tariana Turia, the Minister responsible for Whanau Ora, Family Violence and Disability Initiatives, secured government funding for the development and delivery of a family violence training programme, aimed at building the capacity and capability of Pacific family violence practitioners and providers. The new training programme would bring together cultural knowledge and evidence-based prevention and intervention delivery approaches designed to be appropriate and responsive to the diverse circumstances of victims, perpetrators, and their families.
The Nga Vaka o Kaiga Frameworks are rich with ethnic specific values and concepts on the understanding that culture must be the basis for constructing any solution to family violence.
The key finding from researching our histories was that violence was not a part of our cultures, and so it should not be a part of our present nor our future. It has been suggested that a loss of our culture (understanding and practices) has led to a breakdown in relational being, and an escalation in unacceptable violent behaviour.
The Nga Vaka o Kaiga Tapu Eight Cultural Frameworks create an opportunity to return to the beauty and richness of our culture, and holds the solutions regarding ways of knowing, and ways of being. Bringing these to the fore in our practice and using culturally appropriate tools to engage with Pacific families, allows us to return to a state of wellbeing.
The first Nga Vaka o Kaiga Tapu Frameworks for seven Pacific communities were launched in 2012 and piloted in the greater Auckland area from 2012-2014. An evaluation of the process of the design and effectiveness of the seven programmes was completed in 2014.
The Nga Vaka o Kaiga Tapu sail – ‘La Tapu’ indicates a connection between the Nga Vaka Conceptual Frameworks and the Pasefika cultural knowledge used in this document. The explanation of the sail is as follows:
La Tapu (Sacred Sail)
The basic shape is that of a Pacific canoe sail. This represents the vaka/canoe which is important in traditional Pacific navigation and exploring new horizons.
The fishhook represents sustainability as well as traditional knowledge. The fishhook colour shows the colours of the paua shell, which represents our migration to New Zealand and adapting to a new way of life while maintaining our traditions. The fishhook is linked to a spiritual cord which disappears up to the heavens. This represents our link as Pacific Islanders with our creator and the importance of our traditional and contemporary belief system. The background of the fish hook represents the sea which merges into a star filled night sky. These natural elements were the navigator’s pathways to new horizons.
The triangular patterns above the fishhook is a common design motif found in all Pacific cultures. I used this pattern to represent a common thread found between the Pacific Islands.
The woven pattern represents the Kaiga (family), as a close knit unit. Each member in the Kaiga has a role and purpose in the same way each strand supports one another.
The seven stars represent the seven Pacific Island nations/groups of; Cook Islands, Niue, Samoa, Fiji, Tuvalu, Tonga and Tokelau. Together, they represent a collective star formation which provides support and guidance to the vulnerable. To the left of the arched 7 stars is a lagoon with a radiating light emanating outwards. The lagoon represents a safe and protected environment. The radiating light represents a new life nurtured within this safe environment while surrounded and supported by family, cultural knowledge, belief, and alofa (love).