Encyclopedia of Educational Philosophy and Theory

2017 Edition
| Editors: Michael A. Peters


  • Tafili Utumapu-McBride
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-287-588-4_18



Fonua has been researched and introduced to academia by Tongan scholars (Mahina 1992; Taufe’ulungaki 2004, as cited in Tu’itahi 2005). This entry starts by defining the word/concept and then discusses the Samoan equivalent, which is fanua. Then there is the unpacking of the multiple meanings of fanua and its cultural relevance to Samoan people. What follows is a brief overview into the significance associated with i’e toga (fine mats) and the importance of sacred relationships.


Fonua is a Tongan concept that best describes land, people, and ongoing relationships (Tu’itahi 2005). The same concept is acknowledged by the various Pacific Island cultures. Fonua is the word for Tonga and Niue. For Maori it is whenua; Samoa, fanua; Fiji, vanua; Cook Islands, ‘enua; Tokelau, fenua; and Tuvalu, manafa.

Fonua also connects the various stages of the cycle of human life. For example, a baby is...

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Singapore 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Auckland University of TechnologyAucklandNew Zealand