A Tongan Perspective
Takanga 'enau fohe
(Mates at their oars, perhaps, their oars are mates)
This Tongan proverb points to the importance and nature of community for Pacific peoples and has been explained as follows:
In treacherous seas the persons at the oars must be equal in strength and
ability, and they must row together in unity… Thus, we use this proverb… to
express our vision… thatTongans… ('diasporic communities') work collabor-
atively and communally, forge new alliances, map and re-map new social rela-
tions and socio-political networks, all for the betterment of our Tongan
people as a whole. (Ka'ili 2004)
Tongan community development is about working together for our collective good.
This chapter discusses community development as expressed and practised by Tongan social and community workers who took part in a study of Tongan social work practice in Aotearoa/New Zealand. Community is central to working with Pacific populations, involving an integral link between macro and micro approaches. Although the study focused particularly on Tongan social and community work practice, this discussion has particular applicability to work with other Pacific peoples' groups, given many shared cultural characteristics and realities. In addition, much community development occurs with a pan-Pacific focus, harnessing political alliances between Pacific groups. Further, many of the themes emerging in this study have relevance for work amongst other non-Western, ethnic minority and indigenous groups.