Tuesday 23 April 2024

Pacific Kids Learning @NZEI Pasfika Fono 2024

During the NZEI National Pasifika Fono 2024, discussions were led by an esteemed lineup of speakers who delved into innovative pedagogies and strategies aimed at honoring cultural diversity while nurturing academic excellence. One standout example was Theresa Tupuola-Sorenson from the Pacific Kids Learning team, whose keynote shed light on a remarkable approach to education rooted in community partnership and cultural revitalization. 

 Tupuola-Sorenson's keynote emphasized the concept of "it takes a village," emphasizing that we all have a role to play in nurturing the growth and development of our youth. Drawing from traditional Pacific values of collaboration and collective responsibility, she highlighted the importance of partnerships within the community. Central to the Pacific Kids Learning team's work is the production of digital animations in Pacific languages and contexts. 

In an era where cultural identities and languages are increasingly endangered, these animations serve as a powerful tool for revitalizing and strengthening cultural knowledge among young people. The team's approach is grounded in respectful collaboration with community leaders and elders. Before embarking on any project, they engage in direct communication with these stakeholders to ensure that the design process is culturally authentic and sensitive. This involves seeking feedback and guidance from elders at every stage of animation production, sometimes requiring multiple iterations to ensure accuracy and authenticity. 

 By centering community voices and cultural expertise, the Pacific Kids Learning team exemplifies a model of education that is not only culturally responsive but also deeply rooted in the values and traditions of the Pacific. Their commitment to preserving and celebrating cultural heritage through digital media serves as an inspiring example of how innovation can be harnessed to honor the past while embracing the future.

Sunday 21 April 2024

National Pasifika Fono: NZEI 2024

In April, the first week of the school holidays, educators from across Aotearoa converged at the Waipuna Hotel for the NZEI National Pasifika Fono 2024. This being a pivotal event spanning two days from April 18th to 19th. This annual gathering, celebrated for its dedication to nurturing Pasifika education, served as a nexus of inspiration, collaboration, and advocacy. At the core of this year's Fono was the theme: envisioning the evolving needs of our Pasifika learners while safeguarding the timeless essence of our heritage in the next 5-10 years. 

The discussions, led by an esteemed lineup of speakers, explored innovative pedagogies and strategies designed to honour cultural diversity and important role of educators. However, amidst the spirit of progress, a pressing concern was shared: proposed cuts to Pasifika staff and programs within the Ministry of Education and the wider public service. With the unified voices of over 300 Pasifika early childhood and primary educators resounding, the message to the government was clear: the future of Pasifika education must not be compromised. 

 As educators engaged in dialogue and shared experiences, the Fono also served as a platform for collaboration. It was an opportunity to forge partnerships, exchange best practices, and strengthen networks across communities. The sense of solidarity that permeated the event underscored the collective commitment to empowering Pasifika learners, teacher of Pasifika learners and communities. 
 Looking ahead, the insights gleaned from the NZEI National Pasifika Fono 2024 resonate with the ethos of programs like Manaiakalani. By bridging the gap between education and technology, initiatives like Manaiakalani empower Pasifika learners to thrive in a rapidly evolving digital landscape. Through equitable access to digital tools and innovative teaching practices, these programs embody the spirit of inclusion and empowerment. 

 As we chart the course for the future of education in Aotearoa we must remain steadfast in our dedication to equity, inclusion, and cultural preservation. I look forward to attending the next Pasfika Fono and hope to be delivering a workshop on Manaiakalani's role within schools with Pasfika learners, teachers of Pasfika learners AND teachers of Pasifika hertage. 

 Viia le Atua m . o nei avanoa tāua tatou te faasoa ai ma so'otau'au ai, auā le lumana'i o tatou fanau Pasifika. Ia manuia lava le tatou galuega fai fa'atasi.
Alo i ou faiva!

Friday 19 April 2024

Pasifika Youth Keynote no.1 @NZEI Pasifika Fono 2024


At the NZEI National Pasifika Fono 2024, the stage was set not by a traditional keynote speaker, but by a captivating ensemble of cultural performers hailing from our very own schools in Auckland. These remarkable students, exuding confidence and pride in their Pasifika heritage, left a lasting impression on all in attendance.

Their performances were not merely displays of talent; they were powerful reminders of the profound role that dance and song play in preserving our cultural heritage and language. As I watched them take the stage with grace and poise, I couldn't help but reflect on the significance of ensuring that these traditions continue to thrive in our schools.

Indeed, the presence of these talented performers prompted a moment of reflection for me. What would happen if we neglected to prioritize the teaching and celebration of our cultural heritage in our educational institutions? The answer is clear: we risk losing an invaluable connection to our roots - the rich tapestry of our Pasifika identity.

As educators and community members we need to remain intentional in our efforts to provide time and space for cultural expression in our schools. Whether through dance, song, or other forms of artistic expression, we must create environments where students feel empowered to embrace and celebrate their heritage. If you are already celebrating language weeks, how might this be grown further? How can you grow the knowledge and experiences of your staff and leadership? Who on staff could lead a staff meeting about the celebrated culture? How are we developing leadership in these areas of culture and identity?

But our responsibility doesn't end at the school gates. We must also call upon churches, community groups, and other stakeholders to join us in this mission. By working together, we can ensure that Pasifika culture continues to thrive, in our classrooms and throughout our communities.

I hope that this space often labelled as 'Polyfest' or 'Fiafia' will become more and more part of the priority learning areas for tamariki across Aotearoa.

Tuesday 26 September 2023

Te Tai Tokerau Teacher's Summit

 Te Tai Tokerau Teacher Summit News

Kia Ora. I had the privilege of leading a 40 minute workshop at our Manaiakalani Teacher Summit held in Te Tai Tokerau - Bay of Islands. I led our team through a small presentation that resulted in teachers from across NZ producing this together. Here's my intro I gave to advertise my workshoip. Maybe you can join us next year? You could lead a workshop even! Go here to find out about other presentations on offer as you dream about 2024 and your own or staff PD opportunities. 21 years of teaching at Point England School, 1 year as the Pasifika lead for Manaiakalani, 3 terms as an In Class Facilitator. I am of Croatian and Samoan heritage. Bilingual speaker of Samoan and English. For 6 of 21 years I was the e-Learning teacher. Part of this role was to lead a team of children and whole staff in the daily production of the ‘Pt England News Network - PENN’. Celebration of the small and big steps are important in village life of raising children. I am very excited to be able to share how we’ve celebrated our students and whanau in our community.

Friday 16 June 2023

KOLOA Pacific Language Fono 2023

As the Pasifika lead in Manaiakalani, I had the privilege of attending the inspiring KOLOA language fono. This significant conference centered on the long-term prosperity of Pacific languages, and it brought together 300 leaders representing various Pacific communities. Throughout the event, we engaged in talanoa (dialogue) and immersed ourselves in a wealth of knowledge and learning.

During the conference, Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori Chief Executive, Ngahiwi Apanui, delivered powerful statements that resonated deeply with me.   He highlighted three strands that he has worked within in his work to strengthen Te Reo in Aotearoa.   The first he shared of what 'Manaakitanga' the caring for learners AND potential learners.  The importance of ensuring that it is safe for individuals to try using the language without embarrassment.   I have witnessed this in my life, where those attempting to speak the gagana Samoa have not had a safe environment to practice the language without criticism.  I on the other hand had access to grandparents grew my use and understanding of the gagana Samoa by way of conversation where they modelled the correct pronunciation and use of phrases etc in the way they responded.  NOT a growling but a conversation, a safe and encouraging place for me to try, make errors and go again.

Dr. Anae Neru Leavasa MP, emphasized the fundamental role that our Pacific languages play in upholding cultural values. His poignant statement, "It takes one generation to lose a language, and three to gain it back," prompts an urgency to preserve and revitalize our languages for the benefit of future generations.   

The fono also provided a platform for celebration, with performances from the Ura Tabu group. The thought-provoking keynotes from distinguished figures in Pacific media, such as Sefita Hao’uli and Tagaloatele Professor Peggy Fairbairn-Dunlop I connected with deeply.  As they told their stories of life, communities and academic achievements I could relate to much of the detail.  In particular,  the strong foundation they stood upon, in their identity, cultural heritage and language that opened and unlocked doors to understanding and better support for their communities.

 The diverse panels and discussions covered essential topics, including the impact of technology on language learning, especially through social media.

Randy Liuvaie's experience of creating Niuean language teaching resources with his daughter through online channels.  This showing  innovative ways to engage our students and empower them to embrace their mother tongues.  This matches the practice of Manaiakalani, how digital affordances can not only hook children into learning but accelerate and embed.

Throughout the fono, there was a collective understanding of the significance of our languages, transcending economic arguments. However, Treasury Chief advisor Su'a Kevin Thomsen's insights on the financial benefits of language maintenance further reinforced the importance of gathering data and evidence to advocate for greater support and resources for Pacific language programs.

The presenting of key findings in the documents of the Leo Moana Report and the Pacific Language Strategy was a highlight for me.   Real data to inform and guide our next steps with Pasifika learners, their aiga (families)  and communities.    Another connection with Manaiakalani in that we gather data twice a year in every school (up to 120 schools) to capture what progress we've made, the successes and the work on areas of the education for our learners in decile 1A schools.   

As a Pasifika lead in Manaiakalani, I am committed to fostering an inclusive environment that encourages students, parents, and educators from Pasifika backgrounds to embrace and celebrate our languages and cultural heritage.   

The KOLOA Pacific language fono was a transformative experience for me, strengthening my determination as a Pasifika lead in Manaiakalani to actively support our languages and cultural identity within the educational community. I am inspired by the work of fellow educators, students, and families to ensure that our Pacific languages continue to thrive and serve as bridges connecting us to our rich heritage and to each other.

Friday 16 September 2022

Pasefika, Pasifika or Pacifica? O le mea e tasi.

Malo lava le soifua maua ma le lagi e mamå. I'm excited to share with you my journey in my new role as Pasefika Lead for the Manaiakalanai Network. In this role I have met with principals across schools in our network who have high percentages of Pasefika students. Our talanoa has focused on how the Manaiakalani Programme impacts our Pasefika children along with their teachers AND teacher of Pasefika heritage.

One of the first things I worked hard to find out was which spelling was in fact best  to use for my role. As a Samoan child, I have heard - used and been acknowledged as a person of the Pasefika (spelling from the Samaon and Tokelauan culture). In looking across different organisations who work within our Pacific communities, speaking with Pasefika leaders and educators it confirmed my understanding that Pasifika and Pasefika are both commonly used to refer to Pacific people, culture, and languages. The spelling difference is due to pronunciation across different Pacific Island languages. In New Zealand, 'Pasifika' is the more widely used term.

 The choice of which term to use may depend on context and personal preference. Some great advice from an mentor Aunt (Human Rights Advisor- Pasifika at the Human Rights Commission) it is important to be aware of both spellings and to use them respectfully when working with Pacific people and communities.   My mother's answer, "O le mea a e tasi, Pasefika - Pasifika - Pacific".  It is the one, it is the same. 

Ia manuia lava tatou taumafaiga aua se lumana'i manuia o tatou fanau Pasefika!

Guided Reading (and Comprehension) - Malamalama? Malamalama fa'afetai!

 Today was focused on the components that make up planning and organisation as teachers in reading.  Above is an example from teacher Robert Wiseman of Pt England School.    To produce this learning experience Rob in his planning stages needed to consider the following:

1. Who is the learner?

2. What did their previous reading experience show?

3. What learning intention is needed to further their understanding through reading?

4. What resources would be best to use for this?

5. What ways can the learning share their evidence of learning?

6. What create activity would show their level of understanding against the set WALT?

Guided reading practice is in support of these.   

Some reminders and learning for me:

a. Having the WALT in view every slide, on board, on wall where children can keep referring to is very important.    

b. When curious questions arise in reading session: before, during or after you can collect these and address later.

c. With tools shared today, use them at a pace that suits and check they are useful to what you are trying to find out and work towards with learners.