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Tokelau Language Week/Te Vaiaho o te Gagana Tokelau

This year Vaiaho o te Gagana Tokelau (Tokelau Language Week) will run from 29 October to 4 November, celebrating the culture and language of this tiny island nation.

For people from Tokelau living in New Zealand, family, community, and language are the centre of Faka-Tokelau, the Tokelauan way of life.  

Over half of the country’s Tokelau community live in the Porirua and Hutt Valley areas of Wellington and there are also Tokelau communities in Auckland, Taupō, and Rotorua. Although your school may not have direct links to Tokelau, this national week provides the opportunity to introduce your students to the culture and language of Tokelau, helping to keep Gagana Tokelau alive in New Zealand. Why not connect electronically with another school in New Zealand, in order to learn Gagana Tokelau from the experts?

Links to The New Zealand Curriculum

Tokelau Language Week/Te Vaiaho o te Gagana Tokelau supports the curriculum principles of cultural diversity and inclusion, and provides an opportunity for students to demonstrate the vision of connection to a global community, explore the values of diversity, community, and respect and make use of key competencies, especially using language, symbols and texts, and relating to others.

By teaching Pasifika languages, schools can help meet the vision and goals of the Pasifika Education Plan 2013 – 2017 (PEP). PEP is aimed at raising Pasifika learners’ participation, engagement and achievement in education from early learning through to tertiary level. The Plan’s vision is to see "Five out of five Pasifika learners participating, engaging and achieving in education, secure in their identities, languages and cultures and contributing fully to Aotearoa New Zealand’s social, cultural and economic wellbeing". One of the high level Government goals for Pasifika education is for emphasis on the importance of Pasifika identities, languages, and cultures.

What could your school do to celebrate?

  • Learn some simple greetings and salutations in Tokelau.
    • Hello - Malo ni
    • Welcome - Malo te aofia mai
    • Please - Fakamolemole
    • Thank you - Fakafetai
    • May you be blessed in God's love - Ke manuiakoei te alofa o te Atua
  • Take part in events around your local community
  • Research and discuss the effects of migration on language. This blog from last year's event is a good starting point.
  • Explore music from Tokelau. This resource collection includes a teaching unit for children in years 4 to 6, a supporting soundtrack, and a set of teaching notes. The collection is centred on a Tokelauan piece of music called Ki te La by Opetaia Foa‘i.
  • Integrate Gagana Tokelau by using by using simple phrases or words for an art lesson, to lead an assembly, or run a PE lesson.
  • Share your expertise with another school. Older students could mentor a Tokelau cultural group, or teach younger students some basic language phrases.

Key resources

Gagana Tokelau: The Tokelau Language Guidelines and Muakiga! An Introduction to Gagana Tokelau
These teaching and learning guides are designed to support the teaching and learning of the Gagana Tokelau in New Zealand schools.  They are aimed at all levels.

Tokelau dictionary
An online Gagana Tokelau dictionary

Learn Gagana Tokelau
Phrases, songs and myths, as well as facts about the island nation.

Seven things you should know about Tokelau
Seven things you should know about Tokelau from Te Papa's blog.

Te Vaka
A traditionally-influenced, contemporary Pacific band. Their songs are almost all in the language of Tokelau

Have you seen?

Effective teaching for Pasifika students – Language
This film shows the benefits of valuing and sharing the languages that Pasifika students bring with them into the classroom.

Supporting Resources

Pasifika education community
This TKI site has resources, curriculum links, and guidelines for teachers working alongside Pasifika communities.

LEAP
LEAP is a professional learning resource developed for teachers working in mainstream New Zealand classrooms with bilingual Pasifika students.

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.

School journal resources

Use Journal surf to search for journal stories with a Gagana Tokelau theme.  Two that would work well to support this learning are:

"Inati" by Neemia Nikotemo
Pt 02 No.4 2003
This report tells about the tradition of inati (food sharing) in the Tokelauan village of Atafu. It explains how a fish catch is shared among the village families and how everyone has a job to do after the men bring the catch to shore.
Teacher support material is also available for this report

"After every storm" by Don Long
Pt 01 No. 3 2006
This poem is set on the atoll of Atafu in Tokelau. In simple but richly symbolic language, it evokes the island setting and suggests the power of a child's love to comfort her grandmother.

Updated on: 23 Oct 2015


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