Tauira to Tumuaki: Reg Blake gives back to his kura in Tauranga
20 April 2023
Reg Blake was a student at Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Otepou – a small school in Welcome Bay, Tauranga – from 1996 to 2002.
A new suite of resources highlights the importance of culturally safe places for teaching and learning, that are Pacific capable and responsive. The Pacific population is 60 percent New Zealand-born, and able to articulate the importance of their identity, language and culture in supporting educational achievement from a strength-based ‘as and by Pacific’ frame.
The Talanoa Ako: Pacific Talk about Education and Learning resources draw on a four-year evaluation of the PowerUP to Talanoa Ako programme, which covered over 1,800 in-depth talanoa with Pacific parents, families, learners and communities from 2016 to 2019. This qualitative data was developed into two key resources providing insight into Pacific experiences in education and gives educators practical advice to improve and lift these experiences.
Pacific Parents, Families, Learners and Communities Talk Education Together and From Pacific PowerUP to Talanoa Ako were authored by Tagaloatele Professor Peggy Fairbairn-Dunlop.
The third resource is a literature review on the evaluation findings led by Dr Cherie Chu-Fuluifaga of Victoria University of Wellington.
Four other resources in the suite were sourced and developed from these findings, using other available research. The remaining resources examine effective reporting with Pacific by Dr Lesieli Tongati’o, building the Pacific capability of boards by Mati Filemoni Timoteo, developing Pacific education strategies for schools by Aiono Manu and the New Zealand Pasifika Principals Association, and PISA and understanding literacy by Dr Akata Galuvao.
The four-year evaluation looked at the development and implementation of the Pacific PowerUP programme, which is now called Talanoa Ako. This programme delivers a series of workshops over 10 weeks with the aim of building Pacific parents’ knowledge of the education system, so they are able to better support their children’s learning journeys and build equitable partnerships with their schools. (Read more online at Education Gazette(external link): Pacific principals delivering Talanoa Ako(external link)).
A strength of this programme is the use of an ‘As and By Pacific’ approach, which recognises Pacific values, knowledge and behaviours as the foundation of learning success and Pacific informing, developing and delivering the solution.
The programme is highly valued by Pacific parents, families, communities and learners and makes a difference to their relationships with each other, schools and teachers, and their approach to their children’s learning. Talanoa Ako provides a space where parents and learners ‘can be themselves’, and engage in learning conversations in their own way, time and language. Placing parents at the centre, alongside their children, is also vital, as families and communities are the major educating and socialising agencies for children and at the heart of identity security.
Tagaloatele Peggy Fairbairn-Dunlop says the four-year research was a starting point.
“I think that there is very little understanding of the concept of culture and its place in teaching by parents, but also by teachers,” she says.
“If we are going to enhance Pacific educational achievement, at the basis is, ‘What is the fund of knowledge that children bring to school and which parents have?’ and ‘How do teachers build on and enhance and use that knowledge to achieve good results?’ That is, results that are not only academically important, but which also reflect Pacific peoples’ aspirations to maintain their cultural beliefs and language.”
Dr Adrienne Alton-Lee, who peer reviewed these first two resources, says it has delivered an opportunity to learn from Pacific expertise and get a system shift in the response to As and By Pacific.
“We are seeing Pacific excellence and expertise in demonstrating a way of doing the action, building on the evidence, but all the time going to the forefront with cycles of evaluation informing next steps.
“Tagaloatele Professor Fairburn-Dunlop explains the shift from leaving children silent as a way of responding which people thought was respectful, to starting a talanoa where they have a voice and we are listening to it and the parents have a voice and we are listening to it. I do see the new resources to be invaluable.” she says.
Tagaloatele Peggy says the resources are a wake-up call to schools and teachers to think about their teaching and learning approaches and methods.
She says what they tried to do in these resources is to bring out three points for schools to consider when building relationships with Pacific parents and learners:
“This is huge for Pacific students,” says Tagaloatele Peggy. “The assumption is that people running the organisation must know everything and you follow their rules. But in learning, questioning is so important. And to learn that it is OK to be wrong and you don’t have to feel any shame.
“Pacific children have learnt to be silent in classes maybe because they don’t know how to ask a question nicely, but also because they were scared of being laughed at because maybe their question was not quite right, or their English was not good.”
She says if schools want better educational outcomes, then they must embrace the resources because as they say, “the relationship between how you feel in the classroom and cognitive development is the critical relationship.”
Ngāue Fakataha ki he Ako ʻa e Fānau author Dr Lesieli Tongati‘o says the overriding message is for schools to build relationships with Pacific families.
“Whatever the school does, they need to be able to consult with all its communities. So that includes parents and families. If they don’t create an opportunity to hear these voices, they will not hear it.”
She adds that it’s important for schools to make sure they talk with their Pacific parents and to listen, really listen, to whatever is happening at the school.
“The Pacific population is growing, it’s not going to go away, and Pacific parents want their children to do well at school, like everybody else.”
Tagaloatele Peggy adds that learning is not just about pouring in the knowledge.
“It’s that whole relationship between the teacher and the children and the whole school, and not to assume that everybody who comes into their classrooms, whether they are Pacific or from any country in the world, are the same.”
Lesieli expands on this by asking a question for schools to ponder:
“I know a lot of schools will say, ‘Well, we don’t have any Pacific students’, or ‘We are mostly white middle-class students’. But then the question is, ‘Do they know who’s in front of them?’
“Because I might be appearing non-Pacific, or my name might be in English, but if my teacher knows me better and we build that relationship of trust then I might be willing to share that I have all these ethnicities.
“That won’t happen if the teacher won’t welcome the student in and make them feel at home in the classroom. I know it’s hard and it takes time, but it needs to happen.”
The Talanoa Ako: Pacific Talk about Education and Learning resources also complement the Tapasā framework in helping teachers and leaders to build cultural competency and develop effective teaching practices that engage Pacific learners.
The resources are available to schools and community both in hard copies and online. PLD is being developed to further support schools.
For more information, visit pasifika.tki.org.nz/Talanoa-Ako(external link).
Resource 1 – Talanoa Ako: Pacific Talk about Education and Learning
Talanoa Ako: Pacific Parents, Families, Learners and Communities Talk Education Together by Tagaloatele Professor Peggy Fairbairn-Dunlop
Talanoa Ako: From Pacific PowerUP to Talanoa Ako, Case Studies by Tagaloatele Professor Peggy Fairbairn-Dunlop
Talanoa Ako: Talking about Education and Learning – Pacific Education Literature Review by Dr Cherie Chu-Fuluifaga, Dr Ivy Abella, Dr Martyn Reynolds, and Dr Fuapepe Rimoni (Te Herenga Waka - Victoria University of Wellington)
Resource 2 – Talanoa Ako: Ngāue Fakataha ki he Ako ʻa e Fānau by Dr Lesieli Tongati‘o provides solutions and different ways of working to grow reciprocal relationships and support Pacific learners’ progress and achievement.
Resource 3 – Talanoa Ako: Building Pacific-Capable Boards by Mati Filemoni Timoteo is a refresh of a Ministry resource that focuses on supporting school boards to build their Pacific capability and engagement.
Talanoa Ako Fakataha (the Talanoa Ako cycle)
Talanoa Ako: Make it HAPPEN, by Aiono Manu Fa‘aea and the New Zealand Pacific Principals Association(external link)
Talanoa Ako: PISA for Pacific parents and schools, by Dr Akata Galuvao(external link)
Mana of the Pacific poster pack(external link)
How to get a print copy
Schools can order print copies via thechair.co.nz(external link) or communities can request print copies by emailing Talanoa.Ako@education.govt.nz.
“One of the reasons why I strive towards excellence is for my parents. And I hope that all the things that I do, all the things I try and achieve, can be a testament to all their hard work and the times of adversity they’ve been through.” High school student
“There are lots of stereotypes regarding Pacific Islanders and I want to be a positive representation, and we have a lot of potential to achieve great things.” High school student
“I enjoy this school because there’s heaps of Pacific Island students here that I can relate to. There are heaps of Pacific Island teachers who can help you. In maths, there’s a maths teacher who’s Tongan, a science teacher. We can go to them for help, and they’ll explain to us in the language that we will understand.” High school student
“Being labelled a gifted Pasifika student for me, it comes with great humility. In terms of me wanting to excel, it shows me that I am capable of it, and to me I can also share that to my other Pasifika students, my other brothers, that we too can excel, wherever we want to be, whether it’s being a doctor, or going to university.” High school student
A computer literacy course for Pacific adults is empowering parents and families to be more involved in their children’s learning.
Read the full article Education Gazette: Pacific-led digital skills course boosts parents’ confidence to support children’s education(external link).
Applications are invited from Pacific master’s and doctorate students engaged in research that contributes to understanding of Pacific peoples’ experiences and world views in Aotearoa New Zealand.
The Tagaloa Scholarships provide one master’s scholarship of $10,000 for the final year of full-time study and one doctoral scholarship of $14,000 for the final year of full-time study.
Pacific teachers, principals and anyone doing research in education and wellbeing as part of their master’s or doctorate study are encouraged to apply.
The scholarships are part of the Ministry of Education’s wider Talanoa Ako response to the Pacific PowerUp evaluations from 2016-2019, in which Pacific communities highlighted the need to grow Pacific capacity and capability within communities and the education sector.
Scholarship recipient Siaosi Vaili was a latecomer to academic study. His first passion was rugby and as a schoolboy in Samoa, his talent won him a scholarship to Kelston Boys’ High School in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland.
Rugby was also the reason he left school during Year 12 as he’d been selected to play for Samoa. From there he moved to the UK to play professionally and generally live his dream alongside his wife Katie and their baby Torrence.
But Siaosi’s world changed when he was critically injured during a match for his Italian club. His spinal injury ended his rugby career and, as he recovered, Siaosi decided to return to New Zealand with his family and become a teacher.
He started by pursuing a degree in sports and recreation followed by a graduate diploma in teaching before returning to Kelston Boys’ High, this time as a PE teacher.
A few years on, Siaosi decided to pursue his master’s which is when he was encouraged by supervisors to study for a PhD.
“I didn’t think I was a PhD student, but my results meant I was able to get a university scholarship, so I was able to keep studying. Receiving the Tagaloa Scholarship gave me the boost I needed to get over the line. The timing was perfect, it came at the end of my PhD and when my other scholarship had run out. I was able to continue studying full-time rather than return to full-time work.”
Siaosi has just completed his Doctor of Philosophy (Education) at the University of Auckland. Throughout his studies he has continued to work part-time until this year when he started full-time at Wesley College. Katie is a physiotherapist, and their children are Wesley students.
Siaosi says teaching inspired him to learn and grow. “Although a growing number of Pasifika are succeeding, most of our people are still struggling. It’s about more than literacy and numeracy; I believe other factors come into play such as self-efficacy, believing in yourself, and the expectations of those around us. That’s why I chose to study this for my doctorate.”
Siaosi’s research explores students’, teachers’ and parents’ views about Samoan students’ self-efficacy beliefs, future aspirations, teacher expectations, parent expectations, and academic achievement in secondary schools in Auckland.
Tagaloa Scholarships will open for applications in October 2022. For more information email Tagaloa.Scholarship@education.govt.nz or visit education.govt.nz/further-education(external link).
BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero, firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted: 11:25 am, 31 August 2022
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