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The social, cultural and medicinal use of kava for twelve Tongan born men living in Auckland, New Ze

The social, cultural and medicinal use of kava for twelve Tongan born men living in Auckland, New Ze

  1. staples
    Kava consumption is a very popular practise amongst Pacific people especially amongst the Tongan communities. The purpose of this paper is to identify some of the key cultural, social and medicinal elements of kava use amongst Tongan men. Twelve face to face interviews in this study were undertaken. The paper argues that kava drinking is strongly linked to many of the ceremonial, social and cultural obligations that are deeply embedded within the Tongan culture. The positive uses of kava include medicinal purposes, male bonding, alternative to alcohol consumption, reaffirming and establishing relationships amongst other Tongan men, The men also stated negative uses of kava such as it made them lazy, tired so they were not able to go to work, a lack of sexual activities by being too tired have sex with their partners and very expensive to buy in New Zealand.

    Aim: The aim of this paper is to discuss and examine the social, cultural and medicinal kava use amongst twelve Tongan born men living in Auckland, New Zealand.

    Methods: The study used qualitative methods, specifically individual interviews were conducted in Tongan or English. Participants were recruited through community networks in Auckland. A number of Tongan churches, Tongan medical clinics such as Langimailie, and kava clubs were approached to recruit participants. The open ended interview schedule covered themes such as access, quantity, frequency, and problems associated with kava use. The interviews were conducted by a Tongan researcher either in English or Tongan. All interviews were translated and transcribed into English. A thematic analysis based on multiple readings of the transcripts was used. The analysis identified commonalities and differences. The study was granted ethical approval by the University of Auckland Human Subjects Ethics Committee in December 2004. Interviews were conducted at the beginning of 2005. Interviews were undertaken in a place where the participants felt comfortable. Interview times were arranged at a time convenient for the participants. All participants were given information sheets prior to interviews, and participants were asked to sign consent forms before the interviews commenced. These forms were provided in Tongan and English versions. Most of the interviews ranged between one to three hours. Interviews were audiotaped, and confidentiality was maintained throughout the research.

    Participants: Twelve men were interviewed. All participants were Tongan men born and raised in Tonga. The ages of men ranged between 30 and 75 years. Most of the men had been residing in New Zealand for over 30 years, although some men had only been in New Zealand between 2-18 years. Most of the men were employed and a few had retired from work. Most of these men also belonged to a church. All of the men who participated were married.