A Theological Anthropology of Tama’ita’i : Re-imaging Tama’ita’i Sāmoa(na) in the Image of God: Reconstituting Their Space and Place in Alofi Sā o le Atua – Sacred Circle of God

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dc.contributor.advisor Thompson, N en
dc.contributor.advisor Wainwright, E en
dc.contributor.advisor Taumoefolau, M en
dc.contributor.author Tofaeono, Joan en
dc.date.accessioned 2019-09-02T21:30:07Z en
dc.date.issued 2018 en
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/2292/47597 en
dc.description.abstract Tagata Sāmoa proudly claims that ‘O le tuafafine o le i’oimata o le tuagane,’ the sister is the pupil of her brother’s eyes. This understanding is reflected in the sacred relational and covenantal bonding of tuagane-tuafafine (brother-sister) in what is known as feagaiga or covenant. Through this brother-sister covenantal relationship, Sāmoa confers upon its female folk or tama’ita’i the highest honour, and respect. Important to note here is that, regardless of whether they are young or old, single or married, able or differently able, the central place of tama’ita’i in her family of origin is for life. The tama’ita’i as the feagaiga, tama sā, and ilāmutu places her equally and above her brothers in her family and village of origin. Sāmoa, theoretically speaking, has the ideal democratic system or fa’amata’i that honours women and men in what I call, feagaiga o le ava fatafata or covenant of equal and mutual relationality. Both genders are valued equally and they both have a space and place as human beings within the organisational structure. As siblings, they are to live together harmoniously, and to respect and honour one another mutually. Ideally when this system works, Sāmoa will be free of gender-based violence and Sāmoans will not tolerate any form of violence. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Instead, this notion has become rhetoric only and statistics reveal a different reality. A good percentage of tama’ita’i Samoa suffer from all forms of abuse - especially the married women - from the very men that are supposed to love and protect them the same way they protect their sisters. And in spite of their central place in the cultural-religious organisation, tama’ita’i are yet to be fully recognised as able and capable leaders in the government and especially in the church. This work traces how a well-intentioned system like the fa’amatai, which values womenfolk highly, is not free of patriarchal trappings in its hierarchical structure. The high status of the tama’ita’i Sāmoa has, therefore, become more ceremonial. In reality, most of the womenfolk are not valued anymore for who they are as persons but more for the fertility of their wombs. They are reared and nurtured to perfect their future roles as wives and in becoming mothers. The talanoaga or dialogue/polylogue in the chapters of this thesis follows the different avenues that have influenced the imaging of tama’ita’i. And through the talatalaga hermeneutic, an attempt is made to clarify “why” motherhood and becoming a fruitful wife is idealised, and “how” this thinking shaped and continues to shape the imaging of tama’ita’i Sāmoa today. This religio-cultural understanding blended in well with the Christian teaching that taught the christianised Sāmoans that women are the helpmeets of their husbands. Sāmoa Christian women are constantly told that they must remember that the woman was taken out of the rib of Adam to be his helper and, henceforth, subordinate. Therefore, a decent/good Sāmoa Christian woman will know that her place is to be an obedient, docile, submissive woman in the family, marriage, village and the church. In response, this work asserts that tama’ita’i Sāmoa initially were co-leaders with men in the aiga (family), fa’amata’i (Samoa’s chiefly system) and lotu (church). The sisters do have a central place in their family and village of origin. However, as wives, their standing in the society and community is mostly determined by the status of their husbands. The majority live the daily reality expected of the wives and mothers of their husband’s children, especially when they live with their husband’s families. This writing challenges this thinking by claiming that wifehood was not always the preferred status for indigenous women. The patriarchal system will be analysed and critiqued to find out when tama’ita’i as wife became secondary and submissive. While this work is very critical of the existing systems in the village, church and government, it also uses alternatives within the same system to provide the clues for transformation. Samoa’s own “e fofō e le alamea le alamea” approach is applied as a resolution tool and explained later in this work in detail. Fofō alamea, for short, is an art of using the life-affirming aspects already existing in fa’asāmoa to deal with the problems within the same system, vis-a-vis the place and space of tama’ita’i Sāmoa as leaders in their own rights as persons. Furthermore, in deconstructing and re-constructing the imaging of tama’ita’i Sāmoa in the following chapters, I am re-claiming the rightful place and space of tama’ita’i Sāmoa as leaders in their own right. Central to the fa’asāmoa is its relationship to God, to each other and to the environment. The most sacred of feagaiga relationship among Sāmoans is the one between the tuagane-tuafafine or the brother-sister sacred relational bond. They know their space and place as individuals, as corporate persons and collectively as Sāmoans. Through ava fatafata, mutual respect and honour are the guiding principles in their relationship as siblings, inheritors of family land and chiefly titles and as off-springs of God. In the theological chapter, what I have coined as the feagaiga o le ava fatafata, or covenant of equal and mutual relationality is discussed as one of the solutions to the concerns raised in this dissertation. The solution is found in both the fa’amata’i and the Genesis biblical narrative on the creation of humanity in the image of God (Genesis 1:26f). In and through the image of God revisited, tama’ita’i is rightfully moved from the periphery to the centre, where she has already a religio-cultural central place in the fa’asāmoa, and a biblical and theological-anthropological grounding within alofi sā o le Atua or the sacred circle of God, hence the meaning of the title: A Theological Anthropology of Tama’ita’i: Reimaging Tama’ita’i Sāmoa(na) in the Image of God, and in the Light of the Alofi Sā o le Atua, the Sacred Circle of God. en
dc.publisher ResearchSpace@Auckland en
dc.relation.ispartof PhD Thesis - University of Auckland en
dc.relation.isreferencedby UoA99265205012502091 en
dc.rights Items in ResearchSpace are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated. Previously published items are made available in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. en
dc.rights.uri https://researchspace.auckland.ac.nz/docs/uoa-docs/rights.htm en
dc.title A Theological Anthropology of Tama’ita’i : Re-imaging Tama’ita’i Sāmoa(na) in the Image of God: Reconstituting Their Space and Place in Alofi Sā o le Atua – Sacred Circle of God en
dc.type Thesis en
thesis.degree.discipline Theology en
thesis.degree.grantor The University of Auckland en
thesis.degree.level Doctoral en
thesis.degree.name PhD en
dc.rights.holder Copyright: The author en
dc.rights.accessrights http://purl.org/eprint/accessRights/OpenAccess en
pubs.elements-id 779907 en
pubs.record-created-at-source-date 2019-09-03 en
dc.identifier.wikidata Q112938485

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