Searching for the digital fāgogo: a study of indigenous Samoan storytelling in contemporary New Zealand digital media

Amy Tielu, Master of Creative Technologies (March 2015 – October 2016)
This research investigates how we can take the indigenous Samoan storytelling form of fāgogo online into the 21st century.

People Involved:
Amy Tielu – MCT researcher
Anna Jackson – Primary Supervisor
Albert Refiti – Secondary Supervisor

This research builds on the work of previous academics into the social role and utility of fāgogo (Dunlop, 1986; Kolone-Collins, 2010; Mallon, 2002; Moyle, 1981; Sharrard, 2003; and Tupua, 2003), theorising that this indigenous Samoan form of storytelling was and remains an instrumental tool for self-expression, self-determination, and a way home in the diaspora.

Investigating how we can take fāgogo online into the 21st century, this research seeks to blend the strengths of Samoan oral tradition with digital storytelling designed for participation.

Enlisting a blended methodology of Talanoa and Narrative Inquiry in a collaborative analysis between researcher and scholars of fāgogo, Searching for the Digital Fāgogo studies its evolution through exposure to new social contexts, art forms, and digital storytelling technologies to ultimately:

  1. Inform what contemporary, digital fāgogo looks like in networked New Zealand media;
  2. Develop key design principles for the content or structure of online, networked, participatory Samoan storytelling projects extending the fāgogo tradition.


Dunlop, P. (1986). Samoan Writing: Searching for the Written Fagogo. Pacific Writing and Publishing, Pacific Islands Communication Journal, 14(1), 41-69.
Kolone-Collins, S. ’eala. (2010). Fagogo: “Ua molimea manusina”: a qualitative study of the pedagogical significance of Fagogo-Samoan stories at night- for the education of Samoan children (Thesis). Auckland University of Technology. Retrieved from
Mallon, S. (2002). Samoan art and artists: O measina a Samoa. Nelson, N.Z: Craig Potton.
Moyle, R. (1981). Fagogo: Fables from Samoa. Auckland: Auckland University Press.
Sharrard, P. (2003). Albert Wendt and Pacific Literature: Circling the Void. Auckland: Auckland University Press.
Tupua, T. (2003). In search of meaning, nuance and metaphor in social policy. Keynote Address, Social Policy and Evaluation Conference, Ministry of Social Development, Wellington, New Zealand.

Fāgogo; Fagogo; Samoan storytelling; Digital Samoan storytelling; Participatory storytelling; Participatory productions; Su’i fefiloi; Su’ifefiloi; Talanoa; Digital media; Samoan digital media; Aotearoa digital media; Samoan folk tales; Samoan myths and legends; Indigenous storytelling

Full thesis can be viewed here –

View Amy’s student profile here

Artwork provided by Jordan P. Kwan (