Encyclopedia of Educational Philosophy and Theory

2017 Edition
| Editors: Michael A. Peters


  • Sione Tu’itahiEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-287-588-4_14

Central to the theory and practice of Tongan education is the notion of poto, the ultimate outcome of learning, from a Tongan perspective. So what is poto? This entry describes poto and explores its many forms and uses in education and other fields within a Tongan context. The Tongan knowledge system, tala-e-fonua, is discussed to explicate further the notion of poto.

Poto means wise, discerning, intelligent, and clever (Schneider 1977; Rabone 1845). Churchward ( 1959) refers to poto as “to be clever, skilful; to understand what to do and be able to do it.” In her study of Tongan education, Helu-Thaman ( 2001) identified three basic educational ideas: ako, ‘ilo, and poto. She elaborates:

Ako is used to denote learning as well as searching, and in the early part of the nineteenth century it was also used to mean teaching. Later when schools were introduced, the term faiako (making learning) was used to refer to a school teacher. ‘Ilodenotes knowing, knowledge and information and implies...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Churchward, C. M. (1959). Tongan dictionary. London: OUP.Google Scholar
  2. Durie, M. (2004). Exploring the interface between science and indigenous knowledge. Paper presented at 5th APEC Research and Development Leaders Forum, March 11, 2004, ChristchurchGoogle Scholar
  3. Helu-Thaman, K. (2001). Towards culturally inclusive teacher education with specific reference to Oceania. International Education Journal, 2(5), 53.Google Scholar
  4. Māhina, O. (1992). The Tongan traditional history Tala-e-Fonua. Unpublished Doctoral Thesis, Australian National University, Canberra.Google Scholar
  5. Rabone, S. (1845). A vocabulary of the Tongan language. Neiafu, Tonga: Wesleyan Mission Press.Google Scholar
  6. Schneider, T. (1977). Functional Tongan-English, English-Tongan Dictionary. Suva: Oceania Printers.Google Scholar
  7. Tu’itahi, S. (2009). Langa Fonua: How a Tongan Kāinga strived for social and economic success, Pasifika@Massey. Auckland, New Zealand: Massey University.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Health Promotion Forum of New ZealandAucklandNew Zealand

Section editors and affiliations

  • Linita Manu'atu
    • 1
  1. 1.Operational Manager/Consultant in EducationLoto'Ofa WhatuManawa Educational ServicesAucklandNew Zealand