Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Perceptions of Samoan Parents from a Small Town in New Zealand on Parenting, Childhood Aggression, and the CD-ROM 'Play Nicely'

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posted on 2021-11-13, 11:55 authored by Cowley-Malcolm, Esther

This qualitative study describes the perceptions of 18 parents of Samoan ethnicity from Tokoroa, New Zealand. The aims of the study were to: 1) investigate the perceptions of parents’ of Samoan ethnicity in Tokoroa, New Zealand about childhood physical aggression, its origins, and the ways parents managed it; 2) describe parenting practices, the support parents received, the sources of that support, and the values they used in raising their child/children; 3) explore the literature to identify risk and resiliency factors that influence childhood physical aggression; 4) explore the usefulness of a simple multimedia programme (in the form of a CD-ROM) to support Samoan parents management of aggressive behaviour in young children. The study was conducted through 1-1 interviews to establish how the parents defined childhood physical aggression, what they perceived to be the origins of their children’s behaviour if deemed to be aggressive, how they responded to the behaviour, and the origins of their response. They discussed their parenting practices, support they received and the sources of that support, as well as the values they used in raising their child/children. The study’s participants were recruited after initial referrals through a talanoaga process with community elders and others via a snowball technique. An intervention tool, the CD-ROM Play Nicely, was trialled with 11 of the parents to see whether the parents found the tool helpful in managing their children’s physical aggression. The theoretical approach engaged a combination of Community Participatory Action Research (consultation/participation and dissemination), elements of Grounded Theory, talanoaga and Fa’afaletui, the latter being a Samoan framework which gives a multilayered approach to data interpretation using a range of lenses and perspectives. In conducting this investigation, the combination of Western and Samoan frameworks was appropriate given the sensitivities around the topic and the ethnicity of the respondents and the researcher. The parenting aspect of the study affirmed findings from previous research on adaptation and change in Samoan parenting styles. Studies on Samoan childhood physical aggression are noticeably lacking and therefore the findings of this study make a unique contribution. Conclusions drawn from this study show that those parents who initially ‘normalised’ their children’s behaviour prior to viewing the CDROM Play Nicely, changed their perception of their children’s behaviour after viewing Play Nicely, to recognising it as being physically aggressive. The majority of the parents perceived their children’s behaviour and their own responses to their behaviour as originating from their home environment, namely from the parents. Grandparents played a significant part in supporting their grandchildren and being the vessels of ‘cultural knowledge’ for the children. Almost all the parents (17 out of 18) had accessed early childhood education for their children. Culture impacted on how parents thought about and managed children’s behaviour, and is significant to this study. A key recommendation is to replicate the study in an urban setting.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Pacific Studies

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

970116 Expanding Knowledge through Studies of Human Society

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Doctoral Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

Va’aomanū Pasifika


Fairbairn-Dunlop, Peggy; Doyle, Stephanie