Sustaining Pacific languages and cultures

Issue: Volume 101, Number 6

Posted: 20 May 2022
Reference #: 1HAUCy

With the first Pacific Language Weeks of 2022 kicking off this month, Education Gazette catches up with Katherine Matamua, leader of Ulingaholo – Moving Forward Pasifika Association, to talk about the importance of celebrating Pacific language and culture within our education environments.

Dual language resources make language learning accessible to all ākonga, including those whose first language is not a Pacific language.

Dual language resources make language learning accessible to all ākonga, including those whose first language is not a Pacific language.

Language weeks are an opportunity to build inclusive practice and support Pacific learners to be proud of their cultural identities, but they are only a beginning.

“A person’s culture and language represent who they are and aspire to be. It is more than one language week a year. However, language weeks give Pasifika and many cultures a platform of celebration and acknowledgement,” says Katherine, who is also an RTLB within Cluster 12,
Te Huinga Raukura ki Manurewa.

A Network of Expertise (NEX) and part of Teacher Development Aotearoa (TDA), Ulingaholo – Moving Forward Pasifika Association is working to support Pacific faiaoga/teachers and tamaiti/children to grow and develop leadership abilities, and to further their educational opportunities.

Ulingaholo has a hardworking board of educators working above and beyond their day-to-day roles, and all from a relentless passion for the preservation of Pacific languages and cultures, and the wellbeing and achievement of tamaiti.

Katherine highlights some of the work underway to grow and develop a suite of translated resources and stories, professional development, and workshops for parents.

Some of the work currently underway includes:

  • Pasifika Reciprocal Reading at an intermediate level
  • Manurewa High Secondary Drama Tamaiti Talanoa where students tell their own journey, supported by expertise from Pacific people
  • Utilising current Pacific resources to bring home into school
  • PLD resources through historic Pacific talanoa
  • Publishing of translated and dual-language resources for all faiaoga to utilise within their schools and kura across Aotearoa
  • PLD across Aotearoa with teams of teachers, schools and senior management as Ulingaholo Hubs.
  • Early Reading Together
  • A Ulingaholo website to be complete this year where all educators are able to trial, purchase and offer feedback on their resources. 
From early learning through to secondary school, recognising and celebrating Pacific language and culture is important for tamaiti and aiga.

From early learning through to secondary school, recognising and celebrating Pacific language and culture is important for tamaiti and aiga.

“Ulingaholo has established relationships with publishers, graphic designers, artists, website designers and Pasifika translators on their exciting malaga,” says Katherine.

“Galulue faatasi – We are working together to achieve our goals.”

Katherine says there is a focus on translating their resources so they can be used across bilingual units within Aotearoa, and also by teachers who can use them as dual language tools, making them accessible to children whose first language is not a Pacific language.

She also talks to the importance of not translating information in a literal sense.

“We are trying to get the meaning and the concepts behind the words. We're finding that a lot of things that are translated from Samoan or Tongan to the English language are more wordy, because you have to give quite a few more words to get the right meaning.”

Relating the work of Ulingaholo to the Action Plan for Pacific Education 2020–2030, Katherine says the biggest thing that she got out of the action plan was the wellbeing model.

“It’s about support holistically through home, family, community, education journeys, health, wellbeing and language right through to employment. It’s about giving Pacific students spaces to speak and to acknowledge who they are.

“We're providing a platform for resources and PLD for people who would like to receive some of our support, and we want to demonstrate awareness of the diversity of 17 different Pacific ethnicities.”

Katherine says she is excited by the shifts happening around language and culture, and that it’s not “only ourselves that are passionate about our cultures, it's everybody”.

From early learning through to secondary school, recognising and celebrating Pacific language and culture is important for tamaiti and aiga.

From early learning through to secondary school, recognising and celebrating Pacific language and culture is important for tamaiti and aiga.

Because of the diversity of Pacific peoples, Katherine says statistics do need breaking down, but overall, six out of 10 Pacific people are born in Aotearoa.

“Pacific language speakers are declining (in number) so having Pacific languages spoken and taught in our schools and kura supports the retainment of our language taonga.

“Aotearoa New Zealand is a Pacific island, surrounded by other Pacific islands. Pacific peoples are an integral part of Aotearoa histories and society. Hence, it is vital to retain and strengthen our shared culture and languages and when we travel, to be using the language of that island.”

Katherine adds that the ability to speak more than one language is an achievement.

“We want our kids to be able to shine, to have leadership roles, to choose their employment, to work towards their dreams – whatever they are, whatever success looks like for them.”

Pacific Language Weeks 2022

The overarching theme for the 2022 Pacific Language Weeks is sustainability, which feeds into the UNESCO Decade of Indigenous Languages to sustain and revitalise heritage languages.

  • Rotuman Language Week: Sunday 8 May – Saturday 14 May 2022
  • Samoa Language Week: Sunday 29 May – Saturday 4 June 2022
  • Kiribati Language Week: Sunday 10 July – Saturday 16 July 2022
  • Cook Islands Language Week: Sunday 31 July – Saturday 6 August 2022
  • Tonga Language Week: Sunday 4 September – Saturday 10 September 2022
  • Tuvalu Language Week: Sunday 25 September – Saturday 1 October 2022
  • Fijian Language Week: Sunday 2 October – Saturday 8 October 2022
  • Niue Language Week: Sunday 16 October – Saturday 22 October 2022
  • Tokelau Language Week: Sunday 23 October – Saturday 29 October 2022.

 Find more information at mpp.govt.nz(external link) 

Broaden your knowledge

This resource provides some examples in the Instructional Series of Pacific histories and a link to the ‘Know’ element in the Aotearoa New Zealand’s histories curriculum.

This resource provides some examples in the Instructional Series of Pacific histories and a link to the ‘Know’ element in the Aotearoa New Zealand’s histories curriculum.

Educators and leaders can take coordinated action to value and understand Pacific learners’ unique identities, languages and cultures and support them to thrive.

Explore more stories and resources to inspire your teaching practice, including:

This resource provides some examples in the Instructional Series of Pacific histories(external link) and a link to the ‘Know’ element in the Aotearoa New Zealand’s histories curriculum.

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero, reporter@edgazette.govt.nz

Posted: 11:42 AM, 20 May 2022

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