Jenny Salesa


Research Aim

This master's research looks at the impact of gender and culture on leadership for Tongan women living in Auckland, New Zealand through a master's creative project consisting of an online documentary, a website tool and an exegesis.

This project aimed:

  1. To explore how a talanoa approach (traditional Tongan research methodology) and a participatory visual methodology may influence each other;

  2. To produce a documentary that will follow an autoethnographical approach and incorporate a participatory perspective;

  3. To explore the influence of gender and culture in leadership amongst Tongan women leaders in New Zealand.

Research Questions

“How does gender and culture impact Tongan women leaders in New Zealand?”

Sub Questions

  1. How can a Talanoa approach be combined with a participatory visual methodological approach?

  2. What does leadership mean to Tongan female leaders?

  3. What is the relationship between culture, and leadership?

  4. What role does ethnicity play in regards to female leadership in New Zealand?

  5. What are the challenges/opportunities in developing leadership as an ethnic minority female in New Zealand?


This research was conducted under a phenomenological framework using a qualitative methodology.  It was also the discovery of limited research on the use of a participatory visual methodology combined with the Indigenous Tongan research methodology Talanoa (traditional method of face-to-face conversations) that made this master's research very enticing. 



This research examined the participatory visual methodological approach used to make the documentary by looking at different aspects of the whole process undertaken by the researcher.  The result is a 33 minute documentary.


This contextual document critically examines the creative product in the light of contemporary theory and practice.

Researcher & Co-participant Sandra Kailahi