Pasifika Philosophies Course



Pasifika ‘Whole of Life’ Philosophies for a New Development Consciousness.

Level 8 Micro-qualification Certificate (Pacific Qualification Framework – PQF)
Pacific Theological College, Suva, Fiji Islands
Face to Face (with lecturers, regional development partners, indigenous institutes and centers, village communities)
Two weeks Intensive (20 July to 2 August 2024)
Policy Makers, PGDip/Masters students, PhD Candidates, Early Career PhD holders and Researchers, University Lecturers.
FJD$3,900.00 (covers Tuition, Accommodation, Meals, Communities engagements, Cultural protocols, Course Materials, Internet, Pacific attires)
Friday 1 December 2023
Sunday, 31 March, 2024
Rev Professor Dr Upolu Luma Vaai, Pacific Theological College, Private Mail Bag, Suva, Fiji Islands. Email: Telephone +679 3311100, ext. 1012.

There is a growing interest in understanding Pacific philosophies, knowledges, epistemologies and conducting research in the Pacific; an attention in reframing a new development story that is holistic, life affirming, and communities oriented. Pasifika scholars have led the search for development models that are alternative yet grounded in the everyday life of communities. What is lacking in such important shift is the ability to create foundations of the new development story grounded in the philosophies and spiritualities of Pasifika communities. If a new transformative development story is to be realized, one cannot just change the narrative based on altering policies and frameworks. There is a need to develop ‘whole of life’ philosophical foundations that is able to navigate Pasifika multiple and multidimensional relationships fundamental to Pasifika wellbeing and development, premised on the relational values and spiritualities of the people.

This course is designed for Pasifika scholars from doctoral candidates to early career researchers embarking on research with Pasifika communities. The ‘whole of life’ model of learning unpacks the communities-based model of development, climate change and indigenous knowledge, reclaiming indigenous philosophies, and the leadership for justice vision. Informed by theology and ethics, indigenous epistemologies, indigenous philosophies, climate change and climate justice, alternative development paradigm, decolonization, transformational leadership, ecological wellbeing, ecumenism, development and regionalism – the ‘whole of life’ shape a new Pasifika consciousness that is resilient, holistic, and ground up. This should result in igniting a ‘new spirit’ of development for the region.


  1. To understand the Pasifika relational philosophical mind and how this has shaped the development in the Pasifika communities for centuries and to use that as a decolonial tool to critically analyze the conventional development narrative.
  2. To develop a strategy of codifying and translating these philosophies to build resilience and to critically inform policy spaces in development, diplomacy, security, climate change, and economic wellbeing.
  3. To experience with communities the philosophies that shape knowledge and conducting research in Pasifika communities, in particular in relation to protocols, ethics, and values of learning and dynamics of relationships.
  4. To create a new development consciousness based on the ‘whole of life’ philosophical foundations of relationships that have kept the Pasifika communities sustained and resilient throughout centuries to assist in creating new development models or frameworks.



On successful completion of this short course, students should be able to:

  1. Understand the Pasifika philosophical mindset.
  2. Critically analyze the conventional development model and policies from a relational ‘whole of life’ philosophical perspective
  3. Demonstrate skills of codifying and translating Pasifika philosophies to build resilience and inform review or creation of new development policies and/or models.
  4. Demonstrate skills of research to develop a new ‘whole of life’ development consciousness that is transformative and communities based.
Deep Understanding of ‘Whole of Life’ perspective Students are able to demonstrate maturity and deep understanding of whole of life Pasifika ways of being and knowing to inform knowledge and understanding of their subject area, intellectual curiosity, engagement with diverse communities, engagement with different traditions of thought, and weaving knowledge and practice in transdisciplinary and communities-based contexts.
Embrace of ‘whole of life’ theologies, spiritualities, and ecumenism Students will demonstrate: spiritual and emotional awareness and intelligence and demonstrate how this is applied in their professional/communities practice; self-confidence in whole of life theologies and spiritualities; engage and develop communities-based ecumenical strategies and practices; creatively weaving faith and indigenous wisdom and spiritualities; respect and embrace of all faith traditions; ability to develop resilient strategies based on whole of life faith and indigenous theologies and spiritualities.
Contextually and ethically competent
Students will demonstrate: critical understanding of the Pasifika diverse contexts and related development strategies, deep engagement in contextual decolonial thinking and practices, become responsible and compassionate citizens, competent with resilient and whole of life communities-based ethics, cultural and intercultural ethical competency, and competence in translating communities-based ethics to critically inform local, regional, and international development strategies.
‘Whole of life’ Pasifika cultural competency Students are able to demonstrate: understanding of, respect for, and working in just ways with diverse values, cultures and knowledge; competence in capturing communities-based resilient and whole of life philosophies, sciences, and ways of learning; understanding of communities cultural and language understanding /sensitivity; the use of indigenous and ecological wisdom to develop and augment understanding of the subject area; developing a new Pasifika consciousness rooted in cultural and household relationships.
Innovative and critical thinking and problem solving Students will demonstrate: themselves as effective problems-solvers from a whole of life perspective; critical and decolonial thinkers; creative and evidence-based learners; use critical thinking, analysis, and research skills to solve theoretical and real communities-based problems; create whole of life solutions for communities; produce concrete innovations to develop whole of life responses to current and future challenges.
Justice-driven leadership and communications skills Students will demonstrate: being responsible and prophetic justice-driven leaders; positive and collaborative in achieving common and justice-driven goals; maturity in compassion to communicate relationally and transdisciplinary; work collaboratively to negotiate and resolve conflict from a whole of life perspective; use communities-based skills to plan and manage workload; articulate how they have dealt with specific challenges in building and supporting teamworking; effective communications through deep understanding of communities-based protocols, values, cultures; convey ideas and information effectively for whole of life learning; advocacy for leadership for justice.
Communities-based Lifelong learners Students are able to demonstrate: self-reflection to identify their own limitations; updating and adapting their knowledge and skills for continual professional and communities-based development; self-awareness and self-critical with communities; adapt to complexity, ambiguity and change by being flexible; keen to engage with new ideas and develop new vision from a whole of life perspective; evaluate and adopt new technology in collaboration with diverse communities.

E lele le toloa ae maau ile vai – ‘the Toloa takes off but returns to the waters.’ This is a Samoan dictum that captures the toloa (goose) bird as a metaphor for a migratory quest of those seeking fresh waters to renew their political, economic, religious, familial, or knowledge endeavors. While the Toloa will normally fly away to encounter life, there is always a craving to return to the initial waters for recuperation.

In the metaphor, the Toloa represent the participants. The waters represent the different areas and focus of the course that will be explored and investigated. The methodology for the two weeks course is developed around the Toloa migratory cycle of return, search, dive, renew, and fly. This never-ending cycle represents the constant desire of the Toloa to probe, inquire, transition, and rejuvenate. They are critical analytical phases that are normally intertwined. They are also exploratory and reclaiming phases for Pasifika philosophies and their relevance to developing a new development consciousness.

The training is launched with the arrival of Toloa or participants from around the world, followed by a welcome ceremony. This initial phase sets the scene for the ‘return of the Toloa’ to re-establish connection with the different waters such as the waters of Pasifika philosophies. This is followed by a deep inquiry dive to unlock the Pasifika philosophical mind to begin the search into Pasifika philosophies with Pasifika philosophers and mentors and with different levels of local and regional communities. The renewal phase is where the Toloa gathers the skills to reconstruct a new development story based on the philosophies learned. The hope is that by the end of the search, the Toloa flies away with renewed development consciousness and a story of hope, leaving the space open for another possible return.

Sat. 20 July

Arrival, Registration, Mentors meeting



Sun. 21 July

TOLOA RETURNS: Probing the Waters of our Present

·       Lotu at a Suva Church

·       The Development Narrative: The Case of Pasifika

·       Programme, Schedule, Housekeeping Matters

Mon. 22 July

TOLOA RETURNS: Probing the Waters of our Minds

·       Introducing the course: Why Pasifika philosophy?

·       Unlocking the Pasifika Philosophical Mind

Tues. 23 July

TOLOA SEARCHES: Probing the Waters of our Ancestors

·       Grounding philosophies in Pasifika Cosmogonies/Cosmologies

·       Relational Philosophies of Land, Ocean/water, People

Wed. 24 July

TOLOA SEARCHES: Probing the Waters of Wisdom and Knowledge

·       The relational philosophies of knowledge and wellbeing

·       Pasifika Indigenous Knowledge, Traditional Knowledge, Epistemologies

Thurs. 25 July

TOLOA SEARCHES: Probing the Waters of Spiritualities and Research

·       Pasifika philosophies in mana, tapu, spiritualities

·       Pasifika Research Methodologies and Ethics: protocols, contribution, research ethics, research values

Frid. 26 July

TOLOA DIVES: Probing the Waters of our Ecologies of wellbeing.

Visiting the Waters of Communities

·       Reweaving the Ecological Mat Development Framework

·       Unlearning and relearning with village communities

Sat. 27 July

TOLOA DIVES: Visiting the Waters of Communities

·       Unlearning and relearning with village communities

Sun. 28 July

TOLOA DIVES: Visiting the Waters of Communities

·       Unlearning and relearning with village communities

·       Return to Venue

Mon. 29 July

TOLOA RENEWS: Reflecting on the Waters of Communities

·       Debriefing and Relearning

·       Group presentation of philosophies projects

 Tues. 30 July

TOLOA RENEWS: Probing the Waters of Development, Diplomacy, Security, and Economy

·       Translating Pasifika philosophies for development, diplomacy, security

·       Translating Pasifika philosophies for economies of wellbeing

Wed. 31 July

TOLOA RENEWS: Probing the Waters of Climate Change, and Regional Strategies

·       Translating Pasifika philosophies for climate change policies/Institute for Climate Indigenous Knowledge (ICIK)

·       Learning from SPC Cultural strategy

Thurs. 27 July

TOLOA RENEWS: Probing the Waters of Gender, and Regional Strategies

·       Translating Pasifika philosophies for Gender Transformation

·       Research for a New Development Consciousness

·       Learning from Pacific Islands Forum: 2050 Blue Pacific Strategy

Frid. 28 July

TOLOA FLIES: Facing New Futures

·       Framing a New Development Consciousness facilitated by Former Toloa

·       Summaries, Statements, Recommendations

·       Farewell and Graduation Ceremony


The following assists the facilitators to evaluate discussions and conversations during the Toloa migratory cycle in order to achieve the learning outcomes.

Type of Assessment

Weight Comments/Rationale

Learning Outcome

1.     Pasifika philosophies and philosophical mindset 20% The toloa is able to grasp and understand the Pasifika philosophical mindset and how it operates in the world of thinking and relationship and is able to draw the distinction between Pasifika philosophies and other philosophies that underpin certain policies and development models. LO 1
2.     Social analysis and contextual mapping 20% The toloa is able to critically analyze the conventional development narrative, weaknesses and strengths, dynamics, issues, and potential risks, and in particular its underpinning philosophies, from a ‘whole of life’ philosophical perspective. LO 2
3.     Codification and translation 20% The toloa is able to translate ‘whole of life’ philosophies and spiritualities to inform existing development policies or the creation of new ones LO 3
4.     Towards a new development consciousness 20% The toloa is able to articulate and/or develop a new ‘whole of life’ transformative development consciousness through creating new policies and models or reviewing existing development policies. LO 4
5.     Orality and Communities Engagement 20% The toloa is able to align and incorporate into their thinking and work the communities-based philosophies and approaches that can assist in policy development and ‘whole of life’ development consciousness. Orality, whether it’s through talanoa, organized discussion, or informal conversation, are all critical in unlocking and understanding the Pasifika philosophical mindset. LOs 1-4

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Name: Professor Manulani Meyer

Institution: University of Hawaii


Consultation Hours:  

Name: Sala Dr George Carter

Institution: Australian National University


Consultation Hours:

Name: Associate Professor Dr Frances Koya-Vaka’uta

Institution: SPC


Consultation Hours:

Name: Dr Eci Naisele

Institution: Pacific Theological College


Consultation Hours:

Name: Professor Dr David Gegeo

Institution: Solomon Islands National University

Contact email:

Consultation Hours:

Name: Aisake Casimira

Institution: Pacific Theological College


Consultation Hours:

Name: Professor Unaisi Nabobo-Baba

Institution: Fiji National University


Consultation Hours:  

Name: Rev Professor Upolu Luma Vaai

Institution: Pacific Theological College


Consultation Hours:

Name: Mr Savenaca Narube

Institution: Former Governor, Fiji Reserve Bank

Contact email:

Consultation Hours: