Mautu i vae a vaea : weaving Fa'asamoa & landscape architecture

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Aita, Dexell Frankie
Author ORCID Profiles (clickable)
Master of Landscape Architecture
Unitec Institute of Technology
Bradbury, Matthew
Menzies, Diane
Masters Thesis
Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
Apia (Samoa)
coastal inundation
environmental remediation
vā (relational time/space)
indigenous approaches
climate change
Aita, D. F. (2020). Mautu i vae a vaea : weaving Fa’asamoa & landscape architecture. (Unpublished document submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Landscape Architecture). Unitec Institute of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand. Retrieved from
FESILI O LE SUESUEGA - RESEARCH QUESTION: How might Samoa utilize flooding as an opportunity to re-envision a future that embraces Fa'asamoa? (How can Apia reaffirm Samoan values to conceptualize sustainability through flooding?) ABSTRACT: The global crisis of climate change brings many uncertainties about the development and the liveability of many cities in the Pacific. The Apia town basin is under disruption, with projects proposing numerous strategies to reduce the annual effects of flash flooding. Some projects offering hard engineering approaches for short term solutions while others use management approaches that will be implemented and become effective in the long-term. Flooding disrupts communities, commerce and ecology. This 18-month project sets out to disrupt engineering design by braiding it with Samoan traditional knowledge of water and ecological management. Overloaded infrastructure in Apia (Samoa) co-exists with annual flash flooding produced from the 3 water catchments (Vaisigano River, Vailima River, and Vaiusu River), bringing about destruction to commercial businesses, homes, and polluting the Apia harbour. River flooding in Samoa is a serious and reoccurring issue that generally affects the capital (Apia), located at the bottom of steep water catchments which overflow during heavy downpour. The flash flooding on April 2001, directly affected approximately 5,000 residents, causing damages that was estimated to exceed WST$11 million (NZD $6.5 million). The aim of this project is to increase the resilience of Apia, to better prepare and respond to climate change and to introduce landscape architecture to Samoa. The braiding of the Samoan knowledge with landscape architectural strategies translates ecological techniques of dealing with flooding for the community of Apia to achieve a mutual understanding. Samoa is the heart of the Pacific, which is the most affected area and prone to flooding. The sea levels are constantly rising at an increasing rate each year. It is imperative that something is done immediately but effectively. This project proposes not only to introduce landscape architectural strategies that can be enhanced with local knowledge and understanding, but also inspire and open the local people to use environmentally friendly approaches to heal and adapt to impacts caused by natural disasters. Tactical strategies that have low impact solutions with immediate results, and higher impact solutions that achieve long term resilience are being investigated. The new knowledge developed through this study will be discussed.
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