Bula vakavanua and the spiritual disruption of elder abuse: A Fijian perspective

Main Article Content

Sandra Thaggard
El-Shadan Tautolo


elder abuse, respect, fijian, socio-cultural, spiritual values, vakarokoroko, vanua, dela ni yavu, bula vakavanua, talanoa, new zealand, pacific, fonofale paradigm



Introduction: This article used a cultural lens to explore issues of elder abuse from a Fijian perspective. Fijian tradition of respect for the older adult is a priority and any mistreatment is viewed as a spiritual disconnection and most injurious to God, the land and the people; their ancestral foundations and traditional customs.

Methods: The Fonofale model, as a pan-pacific approach was employed as a methodological paradigm to explore elements of abuse within a larger study of 50 Pacific Island elders from Pacific communities of Aotearoa, New Zealand. This article examines perceptions of abuse as seen from a Fijian perspective.

Findings: The findings argue that all forms of abuse; physical, psychological, financial or neglect are seen as a spiritual disconnection to the very foundation of what it is to be Fijian, referred to as bula vakavanua - the Fijian way of life.

Conclusion: Practitioners with the possibility of confronting situations of abuse may benefit from a cultural awareness programme, addressing the many different ways that abuse may be construed from within a culture other than the dominant one in society.

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