Yaqona (kava) and education in Fiji : investigating 'cultural complexities' from a post-development perspective : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Development Studies at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand

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Embedded practices and systems associated with the consumption of yaqona (known Pasifika wide as kava) continue to express and demonstrate culture in contemporary Fiji. However, a number of untested reports suggest the over-consumption of yaqona manifests a physical hangover effect which inhibits productivity and development. This concern extends to the education arena where the Fiji Islands Government has embraced this development input to aid their national development agenda. This has created a unique challenge for the Fijian Ministry of Education (MoE) which both acknowledges the cultural importance of yaqona, but questions whether the over-consumption of this indigenous substance is impeding academic achievement through impacts to quality education delivery. This study investigates this unique traditional/contemporary tension. To explore these hangover assertions, teachers in this research were cognitively assessed as they entered the classroom to teach in the morning following yaqona consumption. Together with ethnographic reports, the findings suggest that the over-consumption of this indigenous substance does inhibit work performance and increases the likelihood of lateness, absenteeism and presenteeism. From a development perspective this is argued to negatively impact on national development goals. However, the achievement and delivery of education was conversely described by research participants as dependent on yaqona. This is because the indigenous substance is critical to the identity reinforcement which aids academic accomplishment, while also underpinning the State/Community partnership – a union that relies heavily on community labour and financial input for school survival. This study utilises Vanua Research – a post-development aligned framework – to investigate this unique traditional/contemporary tension. In contrast to the development approaches of modernisation, “alternative development” and neo-liberalism, post-development endorses locally conceived and driven development systems by recognising and legitimising traditional knowledge systems, local voices and culture. Moreover, post-development is not about coming up with answers or imposing a way ahead, an aspect deemed to be a key weakness of many of the conventional one-size-fits-all hegemonic development approaches. Instead, this study presents the findings to aid local decision-making processes under the MoE’s call for further research on the relationship between culture and education. Further, this investigation highlights the dangers to socio-cultural stability from cultural loss and displacement when complexities of this nature are considered purely from a Eurocentric development perspective.
iVakamacala Taumada: Na gunu yaqona se tiki ni itovo vakavanua e Viti ena gauna qo. Ia e vica na itukutuku se bera ni vakadeitaki e vakaraitaki kina ni gunu yaqona vakasivia e dau vakaleqa na cakacaka kei na toso ena levu ni sikele. Na leqa qo e tara sara na vuli, na ka e okata na matanitu me gacagaca bibi ena veivakatorocaketaki. Sa mani lomalomarua kina na Tabana ni Vuli ni dau dokai kina na yaqona ena itovo, qai leqataki tale de vakataotaka na toso ni vuli ni qaravi vakaca kina na veivakavulici. Qo gona na vakadidike ni veidre vou ni gauna qo. Na vakadidike qo era a dikevi kina na qasenivuli nira se qai curu yani i valenivuli ena mataka ni oti mai na gunu ena bogi. Ni salavata kei na itukutuku tale eso ni noda itovo sa via macala kina ni gunuvi sivia ni wainivanua qo e vakaleqa na cakacaka, vakavuna vakalevu tale ga na bera kei na vakalutu cakacaka. Qo e rawa ni tukuni ni vakaleqa na inaki raraba ni veivakatorocaketaki. Ia e veicalati kei na nodra ivakamacala eso ra vakatarogi ena vakadidike qo, mana ni veivakavulici e vakatau ena yaqona baleta ni wainivanua qo e yavu ni noda itutu vakavanua, koya e gadrevi me mana kina na vuli, qai tokona tale ga na veiwekani ni matanitu kei na vanua (State/Community partnership), na veitauriliga e yavutaki vakabibi ena cau ni vanua ena cakacaka kei na ilavo me cici kina na koronivuli. E taurivaki ena vakadidike qo e dua na yavu vou me dikevi kina na veidre ni itovo vakavanua kei na tosoiliu. Sa biu na rai makawa eso me vaka na ‘modernisation’, na ‘alternative development’ kei na ‘neo-liberalism’, me golevi na ‘post-development’ – na veivakatorocaketaki e yavutaki e dokai kina na vuku ni vanua, kauaitaki kina na domodra na lewenivanua kei na nodra itovo. Na rai vou qo e sega ni baleta na saumitaro se me togoraki ni iwali ni leqa, se ganita dina se sega, na tikina au vakabauta ni malumalumu kina na itovo makawa ni veivakatorocaketaki sa mai matau tu. Na vakadidike qo e lewena na vua ni vakadidike me mana kina na ivakarau ni lewa e so, salavata kei na kerekere ni Tabacakacaka ni Vuli me tosoi na vakadidike ni veiwekani ni itovo kei na vuli. E vakaraitaki tale ga e ke na leqa e rawa ni yaco ni yali na noda itovo, baleta ni dikevi ga na mataqali veidre qo ena rai vakavalagi.
Yaqona, Kava, Education, Fiji, Teachers, Fiji, Substance use and abuse, Fiji, Kava consumption, Culture and education