A malu i ‘āiga, e malu fo’i i fafo: Protection for the Family, Protection for All

A malu i ‘āiga, e malu fo’i i fafo: Protection for...
01 Dec 2015

The Ministry for Women's new report, A malu i 'āiga, e malu fo'i i fafo: Protection for the family, protection for all, shares, from the perspective of Samoan people, what works to keep Samoan women and girls safe from violence. The Ministry is encouraging discussion on the findings to broaden cultural attitudes to violence prevention and ensure policy makers design effective ways to keep women free from violence.


The purpose of this report is to present some current New Zealand-based Samoan people’s understandings of primary prevention of violence against women. The report seeks to generate further in-depth discussion and to contribute to New Zealand’s evidence base about cultural attitudes to violence prevention. Previous research has acknowledged that there is limited information for some population groups, including for Pacific women. This report can assist policy makers and practitioners to design and implement effective policies, actions and strategies for primary prevention of violence against Samoan women.

Prevention activities are commonly depicted as operating at three overlapping levels: primary, secondary and tertiary. Primary prevention activities aim to prevent violence before it occurs, promoting non-violent and respectful behaviour. Secondary prevention activities aim to respond to the immediate needs of victims after incidents of violence. Tertiary prevention activities aim to provide support for the long-term recovery and safety of victims, and to strengthen ways in which perpetrators are held to account, are treated and monitored. Secondary and tertiary prevention activities are more common than primary prevention activities. However, with a growing international evidence base about practices in primary prevention, interest in these is increasing.

This report is to be read alongside the Ministry of Women’s Affairs recent Current Thinking on Primary Prevention of Violence Against Women report and the recent Pasefika Proud Programme of Action 2014 to 2017 report by the Ministry of Social Development.


The fa’afaletui methodology was adopted as a specifically Samoan research approach to guide and frame the primary research. The fa’afaletui methodology prioritises fa’aSamoa in terms of how, why and for whom the research is conducted. Focus groups were adopted within this methodology to allow for a systematic comparison of shared experiences, and for the development of consensus views around issues of significance.

The term fa’afaletui was identified as a term of relevance for research by the elder men and women focus groups of a Samoan mental health study. The participants stated that the term fa’afaletui “…explain[ed] the process in which they viewed themselves to be a part of.”

Seven focus groups were held in Wellington and Auckland. A total of 49 Samoan males and females participated including men and women of varied age groups (i.e. 20 to 80 plus years), from different religious, gender and educational backgrounds. Most focus group discussions were held in Samoan and transcripts were translated into English.

The fa’afaletui method acknowledges different levels of knowing in the traditional Samoan community. It also prioritises the sharing of views towards a consensus about the range of views present and possible solutions for moving an issue forward. The views of fa’afaletui session participants are woven and explored for what they mean in themselves and for how they reflect a Samoan perspective or worldview.

Using the fa’afaletui method, similar to using qualitative research methods, the data was manually coded into theme clusters of recurring subject areas. These were checked further using back-forward translations. The themes were sorted and categorised into sub-themes and aligned to research objectives highlighting reoccurring concepts.

Ethical considerations

The ‘Pacific Health Research Guidelines’ (2014) steered the ethical approach for this research. Participants were informed about the research purpose, confidentiality of their identity, security of data, intended use of the data, and that the data would only be seen by the research team. Participants were asked to give written consent to have focus group discussions recorded and a professional counselling service was available to participants.

Page last modified: 15 Mar 2018