Service within Pacific cultures is a practical way to utilise personal skills and resources to contribute to the needs of others. There is an expectation that Pacific youth play an active part in various areas of serving the wider and as Thomsen, Tavita and Levi-Teu (2018, p.12) state “the first obligation is to the family before anything else”, therefore fulfilling family responsibilities is a key priority for Pacific youth. This dissertation analyses the understandings and experiences of New Zealand born Pacific youth with service, cultural obligations and leadership in the home, school/university, and church.
The aim of this dissertation was to investigate the complexities involved with New Zealand born Pacific youth navigating responsibilities of service and cultural obligation when operating from, between and in-between two opposing values-based systems. For the New Zealand born Pacific youth interviewed for this research, this involved ongoing internal reflection, and constant navigating and negotiating through important relationships. This dissertation takes a strengths-based approach to investigating and exploring lived experiences of New Zealand born Pacific youth.
The importance of family was echoed through the literature review and in the talanoa interviews. Serving in and through the family was cited as the primary setting in which New Zealand born Pacific youth observed and developed their service skills. Skills and values such as love, gratefulness, respect, and leadership were all identified as outcomes to Pacific youth serving. Family obligations were deemed one of the key priorities for New Zealand born Pacific youth and attending to the needs of the family often meant evaluating and prioritising the needs of the family over other needs and responsibilities.
While serving others brought forth challenges that New Zealand born Pacific youth had to constantly negotiate values and worldviews, serving the needs of others was cited as important. Not only did serving others and fulfilling cultural obligations bind relationships together, but it also provided New Zealand born Pacific youth with purpose and empowerment. This internal fulfilment was one key element to New Zealand born Pacific youth serving others.
Further research is needed to explore the rich experiences of New Zealand born Pacific youth serving others and how this clashes and compliments with various other responsibilities. Strength’s based research is desperately needed to investigate the lived experiences of New Zealand born Pacific youth who have deliberately positioned themselves in the’ negotiated space’ (Le Va, 2009) as agents of both Pacific and Western worldviews and practices. Serving others influences family and personal social,
emotional, cultural, and economic wellbeing, therefore exploring the wide-ranging impacts that serving and giving has on New Zealand born Pacific youth is needed. Deeper understanding will be beneficial to social, health and educational agencies who support New Zealand born Pacific youth with maximising the best of both Pacific and Western worlds.