Interweaving Creative Critical Sense-Making through a Body of Koloa

An Exploratory Examination of Falanoa as an Intergenerational Arts-Based Research Method


  • Dagmar Dyck The University of Auckland
  • Caroline Scott Fanamanu The University of Auckland



art-based research, visual arts, creative critical sense-making, storytelling, intergenerational knowledge, culturally sustaining pedagogies, koloa, falanoa


Storytelling through the arts is embedded in Pacific cultural ways and is meaningfully expressed by interweaving history, genealogy, cultural values, and beliefs. My investigation into Pasifika students’ success as Pasifika in visual arts was revealed through the students’ artworks and stories. Visual art teachers’ beliefs, attitudes and pedagogical practices were also examined to illuminate the critical role they play in affirming Pasifika student success as Pasifika. The inclusion of my own experiences and artworks as a visual artist of Tongan and German descent, grounds the research project and offers voice to my creative critical sense-making process. This article also presents an exploratory examination of falanoa, alongside Caroline Scott Fanamanu’s analysis, as an intergenerational arts-based research method, specifically in the context of my own body of koloa, a personal collection of treasured artworks generated across a 30-year period. Recognising my duality of distinct ancestral worlds, this article suggests that falanoa can be a valuable method for arts-based research, particularly in the context of creative critical sense-making, cultural preservation, and intergenerational knowledge.

Author Biographies

Dagmar Dyck, The University of Auckland

Dagmar Dyck is a first-generation New Zealander of Tongan, German, Dutch and Polish ancestry. She is an interdisciplinary artist, trained primary school art educator, and social justice advocate. Her navigation in and around different worldviews is at the heart of her identity, arts, and teaching practice. Dagmar’s artistic career spans 30 years of regularly exhibiting nationally and internationally, with her works held in both significant public and private collections in New Zealand. Her current research seeks to re-position the critical role the arts can play in addressing persistent disparities in educational outcomes for Pacific learners.

Caroline Scott Fanamanu, The University of Auckland

Caroline Scott Fanamanu is a Tongan historian and writer, an activist of women’s sports and poverty freedom. She is a former rugby league player, and Tag rugby international player and coach. She continues her passion in women’s sport as a Senior Rugby Delegate in Auckland Rugby, grassroots coaching, and her ongoing research in New Zealand women’s rugby and rugby league.



How to Cite

Dyck, D., & Scott Fanamanu, C. (2024). Interweaving Creative Critical Sense-Making through a Body of Koloa: An Exploratory Examination of Falanoa as an Intergenerational Arts-Based Research Method. Art/Research/International:/A/Transdisciplinary/Journal, 8(2), 563–598.