Dissertation

Manmaga'håga: The Journey to Fulfill a Legacy of Leadership for Indigenous Pacific Women in Higher Education

The purpose of this research journey (qualitative narrative study) was to explore the cultural philosophies and beliefs of manmaga’håga (high-ranked Indigenous Pacific women in higher education), give voice to culturally competent leadership practices, and to understand the interests of career aspirations. This research journey used storytelling, an indigenous research methodology, to understand individual experiences and amplify the collective voices of the manmaga’håga. The indigenous leadership model (Minthorn & Chavez, 2015) grounded the storytelling (semi-structured interview protocol). The collective voices of eight Indigenous Pacific women resulted in six emergent themes. The first theme, cultural heritage cultivates the leader included the three subthemes of natibu (indigeneity), minagåhetna (authenticity), and fuestan famalao’an (female empowerment). The second theme, relationships are central to leadership, contained the three sub-themes of inadahi (care), na’i aturidåt (empower), and chenchule’ (reciprocity). The third theme, community inspires wisdom and strength, produced the two sub-themes of inafa’maolek (collective responsibility) and famai’che’cho’ (resilience). The fourth theme, lessons instill growth and purpose, revealed experiences in higher education that increased skillsets and intrinsic motivations. The fifth theme, mentors are significant along the journey, was derived from the examples of fafa’nå’gue (teachers), family members, and mentors who served as teachers and navigators in their lives and careers. Theme six, advancement is about legacy, not title, revealed that the aspirations along the journey focused on creating pathways to leave a legacy for others. This study offers higher educational leaders, institutions, and professional associations, insights into the innate leadership capacities of Indigenous Pacific women, their ability to be culturally competent leaders and their commitment to advancing the success of their communities. Implications for policy suggest examination of employment and retention policies and an emphasis on data disaggregation. Implications for theory suggest transforming leadership paradigms, praxis, and pedagogies to include more Indigenous ways of knowing, being, and learning in curriculum and professional development spaces. Finally, implications for practice include development of an Indigenous Pacific in higher education genealogy project, the sisters of Oceania network, and a leadership pipeline that uses storytelling as a method of cultivating leaders.

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