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Tonga Language Week / Uike Kātoanga’i ‘o e Lea Faka-Tonga

Mālō e lelei!     

Tongan language week 2015.

Tonga Language Week / Uike Kātoanga’i ‘o e Lea Faka-Tonga takes place in 2017 from from 3 to 9 September. 

At the time of the 2013 census, there were over 60 000 New Zealanders who identified as Tongan. Currently, there are more Tongan people born in New Zealand than there are in Tonga, giving lea faka-Tonga (the Tonga language) and anga faka-Tonga (Tonga culture) a special place here. Tonga Language Week / Uike Kātoanga’i ‘o e lea faka-Tonga gives students of all ethnicities the chance to learn some basic lea faka-Tonga, and gives students who speak lea faka-Tonga the chance to be experts in the classroom.

Links to The New Zealand Curriculum

Tonga Language Week / Uike Kātoanga’i ‘o e lea faka-Tonga 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
  • achieve learning outcomes described in the learning languages area
  • make use of key competencies, especially using language, symbols, and texts, and relating to others.

Pasifika Education Plan

pasifika education plan.

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?

Use the following questions as discussion starters with your class – "Why is it important for all New Zealanders to celebrate and learn lea faka-Tonga?" "What benefits will this bring to New Zealanders of Tongan descent?"

Investigate Tongan art - from Tapa cloth and traditional dance to contemporary printmaking, painting, music, and sculpture - discuss how the art of Tonga can enrich Aotearoa.  A variety of resources can be found at Arts Online.

Use the Tongan numbers system to teach place value.

Integrate lea faka-Tonga by using it for an art lesson, to teach a Tongan song, or to run a PE lesson.

Include these language games in your reading rotation or English lesson.

Adapt this ESOL resource to create a Tongan cultural village.

Ask students that identify as Tongan to run a special assembly. Include the New Zealand National Anthem in lea faka-Tonga.

Share your expertise with another school. Older students could mentor a Tongan cultural group, or teach younger students some basic language phrases.

With the help of the Tongan community, students can create a resource that can be used by teachers across the school during the year.

Run a lea faka-Tonga speech competition within your school cluster.

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 Lea Faka-Tonga titles in the Tupu series.

If students have lea faka-Tonga speakers at home, give them Lea Faka-Tonga books to take home in place of their normal reader.


There are a range of events taking place across New Zealand to promote the importance of Tongan language and culture to Aotearoa. These include church, school, and community events, library sessions, heritage art collections on display, launches, radio dialogue, and workplace gatherings.

Please contact the regional offices of the Ministry for Pacific Peoples if you would like a copy of the national calendar of events.

Supporting resources 

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

Tongan language resources
These teaching and learning resources are designed to support the teaching and learning of lea faka-Tonga in New Zealand schools. They are aimed at all levels.

Basic lea faka-Tonga lessons
This site has seven lessons for beginner speakers of Tongan.

Lea faka-Tonga phrases
This website offers some common Tongan phrases, suitable for classroom use.

Tonga greetings - Tonga Language Week
This video, produced for Tonga Language Week in 2013, will help children listen to the correct pronunciation of words and phrases. 

ESL Readers: A Mysterious Meeting: teachers' resource [Tongan]
This digistore resource is designed to support classroom use of the animated story 'A Mysterious Meeting' and its associated language games. Remember that to use digistore you need to setup a password.

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. 

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

School journals.

Look for journal stories with a lea faka-Tonga theme. Three that would work well to support this learning are:

Ofa Lahi Atu – Good Luck!  by John Hart
Pt 03 No. 3 2000 Pgs 30-32
Could Latu have a chance of winning the speech competition? He will speak about the importance of the Tongan language and is up against some excellent speakers. The judge is ready to make his comments, and everyone is nervous.

After School in Tonga by John Bonallack
Pt 03 No. 3 1997 Pgs 12-15
In this photo article, we learn about the lives of Pesita and Kalati, who live in rural Tonga. Like all young people, they always have plenty to do around home. We see photographs of these activities, along with Tongan expressions to describe them.

A Vanishing Art / Tomorrow’s Tapa
Connected 3, 2007
This article explores the vanishing art of making tapa cloth. We find out how the cloth is made from paper mulberry and then dyed using a variety of materials.

Updated on: 24 Aug 2016