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Samoan Language Week

Tapa cloth.

Tālofa lava! Afio mai!

Samoan Language Week / Vaiaso o le Gagana Samoa is being held this year from Sunday 26 May to Saturday 1 June. The theme for this year is: ‘Lalaga le si’osi’omaga mo se lumana’i manuia’ - ‘Weave an environment for a better future’.

Curriculum links

Curriculum document.

Samoan Language Week / Vaiaso o le gagana Samoa supports the curriculum principles of cultural diversity and inclusion, and provides an opportunity for students to:

  • explore the values of diversity and respect
  • make use of key competencies, especially using language, symbols, and texts and relating to others
  • achieve learning outcomes described in the learning languages learning area.

The wellbeing and achievement of students is enhanced when their learning reflects and reinforces where they come from, what they value, and what they already know. Samoan Language Week / Vaiaso o le gagana Sāmoa celebrates the identity, language, and culture of students from Samoa and students whose families are from Samoa; supporting this group of learners to engage and achieve success.  

Samoan Language Week / Vaiaso o le gagana Samoa helps all New Zealanders journey towards shared cultural understandings. Learning a new language gives us insight into new ways of thinking, and to different beliefs and cultural practices. Everyone who learns gagana Samoa helps to preserve it as a living and rich language.

“By learning an additional language and its related culture(s), students come to appreciate that languages and cultures are systems that are organised and used in particular ways to achieve meaning. Learning a new language extends students’ linguistic and cultural understanding and their ability to interact appropriately with other speakers ... Through such interaction, students acquire knowledge, skills, and attitudes that equip them for living in a world of diverse peoples, languages, and cultures.”

The New Zealand Curriculum, p 24

To celebrate in your school

Gagana Samoa is the second most spoken language in Auckland and third most spoken in New Zealand. This means that there is a reasonably high chance that you will have some speakers of gagana Samoa in your school. Encourage those students to be experts, and validate their expertise in front of other students. Support them to speak gagana Samoa to each other and to others in the class. Invite students to prepare the Samoan Language Week celebrations in the school, investigating the value of fa'a Samoa to others and placing an emphasis on shared language experiences.

Ways to get involved: 

  • Use the following questions as discussion starters with your class – "Why is it important for all New Zealanders to celebrate and learn gagana Samoa?" "What benefits will this bring to New Zealanders of Samoan descent?"
  • Hold a school gagana Samoa speech competition, using senior students as the judges.
  • Share your expertise with another school. Older students could mentor a Samoan cultural group, or teach younger students some basic language phrases.
  • With the help of the Samoan community, students can create a gagana Samoa resource that can be used by teachers across the school during the year.
  • Ask a grandparent or parent to come and read to children in the classroom or in the library at lunchtime. Check your resource room for gagana Samoa titles in the Tupu series.
  • Help your students download and use apps specifically designed with gagana Samoa learners in mind, such as Little Learners Sāmoa and Fa'a Samoa.
  • Find information about Vaiaso o le gagana Samoa and related events on the Ministry for Pacific Peoples website, and on the website of your local city library.

Engaging with Pasifika parents, families, and communities

Samoan Language Week is an ideal opportunity to engage with aiga in the school community. Acknowledge expertise, encourage a steady flow of gagana Samoa speakers into the classroom, and let the community guide the teaching and learning in a fa'a Samoa way. This is a great way to practise gagana Samoa, as students can connect with the wider community while interacting with fluent speakers in an everyday situation.

If community members are willing, a debate could be held between parents and secondary level students in response to the Tagata Pasifika video below:

The survival of the Samoan language in New Zealand – Are we becoming complacent?
Are Samoans being complacent when it comes to their language? This Tagata Pasifika special looks at Samoa language learning, and whether attitudes towards learning gagana Samoa need to change.

Have you seen?

Rangikura School – Pasifika parent group leads learning
During Sāmoan Language Week the staff, students, parents, and wider community of Rangikura School came together to enjoy an array of activities and celebrations which were organised by the school’s Rangikura Matua Pasifika Parent group.

Resources to help you get involved

Samoan Language Week classroom resource
This education resource was co-created by Te Papa and the Ministry for Pacific Peoples. It is packed with ideas and links to help students learn Samoan words, phrases, and pronunciation, and explore aspects of Samoan culture.

Gagana Samoa website
This website lists common phrases and provides audio to help with pronunciation.

Samoan Language Week
Follow this page on Facebook for discussion and a round up of national events and activities. 

The coconet
This website offers online language games to support students learning gagana Samoa.

wickED: Pasifika
This section from the wickED website on TKI provides several interactive activities for students to support learning about people and places in the South Pacific and Pasifika languages.

Christchurch City Libraries – Samoan Language Week
This page highlights Samoan language resources and links to this year's events at Christchurch City Libraries.

Rays of Sound
The Language Learning Centre team has released free digital recordings of Māori and Samoa language learning readers that had been published non-commercially on tape in the 1980s and 1990s by the Ministry of Education.

Getting started – Words and phrases that you could try

  • Tālofa lava: Hello (formal)
  • Mālō le soifua: Hello/Good health
  • ‘O ā mai 'oe? How are you? (to one person only)
  • Manuia fa‘afetai: Good, thank you
  • Manuia le aso: Have a great day
  • Tōfā soifua: Good bye (formal)

Ministry of Education resources

Ta'iala mo le gagana Samoa: The gagana Samoa guidelines (PDF)
Download the gagana Samoa language curriculum guidelines. These guidelines support additional language learning whilst focusing on teaching and learning that will enable students to achieve worthwhile outcomes.

Mua Ō! An Introduction to gagana Samoa
This resource has been designed and developed to support the teaching and learning of gagana Samoa as an additional language in New Zealand schools.

Gagana Samoa storybooks and teacher support materials
These storybooks and teacher support materials link to learning sequences in Mua Ō! The storybooks are in gagana Samoa and the teacher support materials are in English.

Inclusive Education Guides for Schools – Supporting Pasifika students
This guide focuses on inclusive teaching and learning strategies that can be used in the classroom to create a more effective learning environment for all Pasifika students.

In your book rooms ... 

Dances of Samoa
This article describes three well-known dance forms from Samoa. The article is accompanied by colourful, high-energy photos of students from a Porirua primary school performing the slap dance and the sāsā. 

White Sunday in Saamoa
This factual recount describes how a young Samoan boy, with the support of his family, gets ready to celebrate White Sunday. There is a glossary of Samoan terms and extra information about White Sunday at the end of the book.

Pasifika dual language books

The Pasifika dual language resources are designed to support the early language and literacy learning of Pasifika new entrant students in English-medium classrooms. Teacher and parent support material accompany these resources. Many of the dual language books are available as PDFs and all the books are available as MP3 audio files. 

Have you seen?

Samoan greetings on a poster.

Samoan identity, language, and culture
In this blog Fa’atili Iosua Esera, principal of Sutton Park School, explains some important aspects of Samoan identity and offers some suggestions on how we can support Samoan language and culture in our schools and classrooms.

Updated on: 14 May 2019


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