Dr David Taufui Mikato Fa'avae

David Taufui Mikato Fa'avae


Qualifications: PhD, MProfEd (First Class Hons), PGCTT, PGDipEdLead, GradDipTeach (Sec), BA

Iwi: Ma'ufanga (Tongatapu), Niuafo'ou, Angahaa ('Eua), Neiafu (Vava'u), Pukotala (Ha'apai), Satalo (Upolu, Samoa)

About David Taufui Mikato

In 2011, David received a Teaching Excellence Award and later a NZ Ministry of Education Study Award to complete his masters study at the University of Auckland (UoA). After eight years of secondary school teaching as well as holding middle management positions, he was awarded a doctoral scholarship to complete his PhD at UoA.

His doctoral thesis focused on inter-generational cultural capital and he drew from Pierre Bourdieu's early theory of cultural capital to foreground an Indigenous approach - Tatala 'a e koloa 'o e to'utangata Tonga i Aotearoa mo Tonga - linked to the conceptualization, transmission, mobilization, and capitalization of inter-generational cultural knowledge and practices in education.

David is deeply invested in the leadership and mentoring through teaching and research supervision of Pacific/Pasifika as well as non-Pacific postgraduate students from diverse backgrounds. As well, he enjoys supporting and collaborating with other emerging academics in Aotearoa and across the Moana (Oceania).

David's writing focuses on the tensions, contradictions, complexities, and nuances associated with the implementation of Indigenous methodologies and methods in dominant research contexts. His paper published with his doctoral supervisors in 2016 highlighted the dilemmas and complexities involved when utilizing talanoa as a method of gathering data across generations of people (based on age, gender, social class) in New Zealand and in the diaspora. Often, he utilizes critical autoethnography as an approach to delve into and interrogate the place of "self" in-between/within/amongst diverse contexts in education and wider society. Moreover, David has utilized va and veitapui as theoretical ideas to understand "wayfinding mobilities" and what it means to navigate and mediate diverse spaces - both theoretical and philosophical, as well as the spatial and temporal.

Papers Taught

Research Interests

David's research interests are primarily within Indigenous research methodologies and methods, wayfinding mobilities, critical autoethnography, Indigenous masculinities and gender, inter-generational cultural capital, inter-generational cultural knowledge and transmission, Pacific studies, Pacific education, teacher education, critical pedagogy, higher education, and education for sustainability.

In terms of research collaboration, David continues to maintain research partnership with the Institute of Education (IOE) at the University of the South Pacific (USP). Across the Moana, he has collaborated with colleagues from the National University of Samoa's Faculty of Education, and the Republic of the Marshall Island's (RMI) Public School System through research design, analysis, and reporting.

Through a funded project by the Asia Development Bank (ADB) titled, Improve Quality Basic Education (IQBE) in the RMI, he designed and refitted course curriculum and assessment as well as facilitation of the courses with school leaders to completion. Similarly, David conducted research, data analysis, and reporting of findings for UNESCO through a study that focused on School Related Gender-based Violence in Tonga.

Recent Publications

  • Baice, T., Lealaiauloto, B., Meiklejohn-Whiu, S., Fonua, S. M., Allen, J. M., Matapo, J., . . . Fa’avae, D. (2021). Responding to the call: talanoa, va-vā, early career network and enabling academic pathways at a university in New Zealand. Higher Education Research & Development, 40(1), 75-89. doi:10.1080/07294360.2020.1852187

  • Fa'avae, D. T. M. (2020). Critical autoethnographic encounters in the moana: Wayfinding the intersections of to’utangata Tonga and indigenous masculinities. In F. Iosefo, S. Holman Jones, & A. Harris (Eds.), Wayfinding and Critical Autoethnography (1st ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.

  • Fa'avae, D. T. M., Wetere, J., Kamenarac, O., & Rubin, J. C. (2020). What does it mean to be non-Māori? Unpacking the complexities and specificities in tertiary education spaces. In LearnFest20 Te Puna Arei. University of Waikato, Hamilton, NZ.. Retrieved from

  • Fa'avae, D. (2019). Tatala ‘a e Koloa ‘o e To’utangata Tonga: A way to disrupt and decolonise doctoral research. MAI Journal: New Zealand Journal of Indigenous Scholarship, 8(1). doi:10.20507/maijournal.2019.8.1.1

Find more research publications by David Taufui Mikato Fa'avae


Doctoral Education; Education Research; Gender; Sociology and Education; Teacher Education

Pacific (Pasifika) Education, Pacific Studies, Critical Autoethnography, Wayfinding Mobilities, Indigenous Masculinities, Higher Education, Critical Pedagogies