Tongan Social Work Practice Tracie Mafile’o
Tonga is part of Oceania, a ‘sea of islands’ (Hau’ofa 1994) which provides a rich source of learning about the diverse nature of social work practice. Western ‘professional social work’ is not part of the culture of most South Pacific Island nations though there are social and community support systems based on Pasifika1 knowledges and cultural practices. These culturally embedded helping systems and institutions perform what those in the West might regard as ‘social work functions’. Western professional social work among Pacific Peoples emerged as a result of colonialism within Oceania and the migration of Oceanic Peoples. Thus Tongan social work, the subject of this chapter, provides an example of a dynamic interface between an Indigenous world view and a Western context, providing a cross-cultural space for building social work theory and knowledge.