Timote M. Vaioleti

Timote M. Vaioleti

Hall of Fame Class of 2012

Timote M. Vaioleti is a leading Tongan scholar and an expert on adult and continuing education (ACE) for Pacific peoples. He is a personification of lifelong learning having been a learner, teacher, instructor of apprentices, vocational adviser, teacher educator, development practitioner, and policy adviser. Throughout his career, he has not relinquished his “fatongia,” or his cultural and spiritual obligations to his native community.

Vaioleti’s service to the field covers the Asia Pacific region, with a special focus on Pacific Island states and New Zealand. In Kiribati, Samoa, Fiji, and Tonga, he has worked with ACE to improve their communities’ social environmental and economic wellbeing, including financial and cultural literacy to prepare for work in New Zealand. Education on climate change in the Pacific has received his specialist attention.

Vaioleti’s academic and policy analysis work has been a mainstay of his career. He has earned a reputation for re‐creating ancient Pacific knowledge and pedagogies that challenge mainstream theories to be responsive toward assisting Pacific peoples to meet their aspirations. Vaioleti has represented the Pacific on many ministerial committees, including the ACE Reference Group. He was elected to the Executive Council to ASPBAE, Asia South Pacific Association for Basic and Adult Education, which advocates for education as a human right.

As a senior lecturer, Vaioleti is a mentor and adviser for many Pacific learners as well as the bridge to assisting non‐Pacific peoples to learn about Pacific peoples, their histories and cultures. He is also an adviser on Pacific matters within the university.

He founded and chaired the Rotorua Tongan Society, the Rotorua Pacific Council in the 1980s and 1990s being responsible for ACE, and he chairs the Hamilton Tongan Education Council. He was the Project Leader for the construction and establishment of a large Pacific complex in Auckland where he taught volunteers trade skills as well as financial and legal skills to meet compliances of the local authority. 

In Tonga, he conducts ACE, including orientation of seasonal workers for their employment in New Zealand. He also orients employers in New Zealand ensuring that they understand the cultural behavior of the workers from the Pacific. The benefits of this learning contribute immensely to the success of the Recognized Seasonal Employment program for both countries, building socially cohesive communities aware of their responsibilities of citizenship.

Vaioleti’s greatest contribution was the development of Talanoa Research Methodology, a culturally appropriate holistic approach to researching Pacific issues and now the most accepted Pacific methodology by Pacific academics and the mainstream tertiary institution in New Zealand, Tonga, and other nations of the Pacific. Through his academic work and writings, Vaioleti has introduced the field to Pacific peoples and their knowledge by privileging Pacific pedagogies based on ancient learning concepts of Polynesia. 

The key line of Vaioleti’s work is that the educational experiences of Tongan and Pacific learners would be enhanced if these concepts were integral to their learning relationship with their facilitator, other learners, and the environment the learning is taking place in. His intention is to weave a garland out of the concepts to help steer learners’ learning from all backgrounds in ways that honor their culture.