Project Description

Ministry of Social Development – Pacific young people’s understandings of family violence (2019)

Between June and November 2019, the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) commissioned Malatest to undertake research that explored Pacific young people’s understanding of family violence and resilience. There is a growing evidence base for understanding Pacific family violence particularly the Pasefika Proud and Nga Vaka o Kāiga Tapu resources. However, little is known about the Pacific young people’s understandings of resilience and family violence. This research aimed to:

  • Broaden understandings about young Pacific people’s identity and worldview(s).
  • Explore how these understandings influence young Pacific people’s perceptions of healthy family relationships and family violence.

These insights are critical to strengthening prevention and intervention approaches that resonate with Pacific peoples. This research was strengths-based and guided by Pacific research methodologies and guidelines. We engaged with personal and professional networks to recruit young people (12-24 years old) from eight Pacific ethnic-specific groups. Ethnic-specific focus groups enabled young people from smaller Pacific nations to be represented and heard. We worked with MSD and our own networks to identify ethnic-specific community leads and worked closely with them to identify and arrange 10 focus groups with young people in Auckland and Wellington.

Focus groups were conducted in a Pacific cultural context to encourage in-depth talanoa and sharing with Pacific young people. We prioritised establishing the ‘va’ (relationships that both unite and divide us as individuals/Pacific people) before discussions commenced. For example, through an opening prayer, introductions/connections and talanoa (conversational) opportunities for young people to talk about who they are. ‘Teu le va’ (taking care of the relationship) occurred throughout the focus group discussions through shared ground rules, respectful interactions and responses to sensitive information shared. We knew that different age, ethnicity, gender and power dynamics as well as ethnic-specific cultural considerations may influence young peoples’ engagement in a group setting and how much they would be willing to discuss and openly share. If required our team of experienced and senior Pacific facilitators were also prepared to arrange breakout groups by gender, and age (e.g., 12-15 years, 16-18 years and 19-24 years). As a form of reciprocation and respect, all participants received a meaalofa (voucher) and Pasifika Proud resources as a token of appreciation. Refreshments and transport costs were also provided.

Our Pacific team members led the analysis, bringing their own interpretive frameworks (e.g. Pacific methodologies, epistemologies etc.), and ensuring that our interpretations of key themes were contextualised within cultural contexts, ethnic-specific and pan-Pacific worldviews. Young Pacific peoples worldviews, sense of connection and cultural identity were also used in the grounding and interpretation of key themes.

For more information about the evaluation and the findings, the report and summary can be found here: