Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Siautu Alefaio-Tugia

Siautu Alefaio-Tugia

Senior Lecturer, School of Psychology, Massey University New Zealand

Dr Siautu Alefaio-Tugia is a Senior Lecturer at the School of Psychology, Massey University New Zealand. As an experienced psychologist practitioner, Alefaio-Tugia has worked within various applied psychology contexts in education, health, social services, community, family violence-prevention, forensic rehabilitation and disaster response across New Zealand, Australia and the Pacific. Her research expertise draws on extensive applied psychology experiences to develop a NIU (New Indigenous Understandings) psychological research platform for re-informing psychological theory and practice. Understanding that traditional psychology does not inevitably reflect indigenous cultures has been well documented. Alefaio-Tugia's work pioneers a new way forward in psychology that encompasses experiences, values, and beliefs of Oceania for reforming psychology. Siautu is a founding member of Pasifikology (Network of Pacific psychologists) and the Director of New Indigenous Unity for Pacific Humanitarinism (NIUPacH).

As a 2009 member of the New Zealand Ministry of Health's Immediate disaster response team for the Samoan Tsunami, Alefaio-Tugia provided psychological first aid and practical advice and guidance on psycho-social recovery and training of first-aid volunteer responders. Reflective analysis of the immediate disaster psycho-social work revealed that Indigenous Samoan response processes and knowledge was already embedded within Fa’aSamoa (Indigenous Samoan cultural knowledge). Furthermore children of the Samoan diaspora who carry this cultural knowledge and are part of the immediate response work, provide an organic humanitarian response inherent within their Indigenous ways of knowing, being and doing. This culturally-informed and embedded way of responding during times of disaster can help re-inform the International humanitarian community of psycho-social recovery to ensure cultural responsiveness is at the forefront of the humanitarian engagement. These experiences paved the way for developing New Indigenous Unity for Pacific Humanitarians (NIUPacH) with a research platform embedded within Pacific indigenous humanitarian psychology.


Alefaio-Tugia, S., Carr, S., Hodgetts, D., Mattson, T. and van Ommen, C. (2015). Ending Poverty and Inequality? Toward Psychologies of Sustainable Development. Psychology Aotearoa, 7(1), 32-36.