Waikato Journal of Education


Learning approach
academic achievement
tertiary education
spiritual dimensions

How to Cite

Naufahu, M., Havea, ’Elisapesi H., Kaufononga, S. A., & Laulaupea’alu, S. (2021). Fakalukuluku: Conceptualising a Tongan learning approach in tertiary education. Waikato Journal of Education, 26(1), 163–178. https://doi.org/10.15663/wje.v26i1.766


Given the current impact of COVID-19, the learning experiences of Pasifika students within tertiary education has implicated their social and emotional wellbeing. Engaging in a Tongan learning approach, such as fakalukuluku, can present a viable learning practice for tertiary students’ learning experiences. This paper presents the perspectives of four Tongan-born and raised researchers and educators who completed their tertiary education in Aotearoa New Zealand. Based on our experiences and reflections, we propose the Tongan concept of fakalukuluku as an approach to help elevate students’ academic achievement in tertiary education. Our paper conceptualises and unfolds perspectives of fakalukuluku, as a cultural practice that is appropriate, collaborative, and accorded learning stability because of its spiritual dimensions as being paramount to students’ success. We propose that a strong family and community support, the utilising of university learning support and the students’ spiritual beliefs can help Tongan students in tertiary education succeed.


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