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

This page might include information, links, and events that are specific to 2019. It will be updated as soon as 2020 information becomes available.

Mālō e lelei! Mālō e lelei! Tongan Language Week / Uike Kātoanga’i ‘o e Lea Faka-Tonga is being held from Sunday 6 September - Saturday 12 September 2020.

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. Tongan 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

Tongan 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

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 number 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.
  • Ask students who identify as Tongan to run a special assembly. They could 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 could create a resource for teachers to use across the school.
  • 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 readers.


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 Week education resource (PDF 1.6 MB)
The Ministry for Pacific Peoples has worked in partnership with Te Papa Tongarewa to develop a free education resource that will help with learning lea faka-Tonga. 

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.

Pasifika dual language books – Lea Faka-Tonga
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 accompanies these resources. Many of the dual language books are available as PDFs and all the books are available as MP3 audio files.

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

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

Senior secondary guides – Tongan
This guide has been designed to help secondary teachers create quality programmes for teaching and learning Tongan.

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

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

Ngatu: Keeping the Tradition Alive, School Journal, Level 2, June 2018
Megan and Lita are cousins who belong to the Tongan community in Wellington. This article describes how every week they come together with their mothers, grandmother, and other women and girls to learn about Tongan culture and how to make ngatu (tapa cloth). It explains the process of making ngatu and the significance of the cloth, and it demonstrates how such traditions are passed down through the generations.

The Sons of Ma'fu, School Journal, Level 2, October 2015
A traditional story from Tonga, retold by Feana Tu‘akoi. Illustrations by Fraser WilliamsonTwo brothers with a reputation for trouble try to redeem themselves by carrying out some perilous tasks. Despite their best efforts, the brothers fail to impress the other villagers. Instead, they are banished to live in the heavens, where they can still be seen. 

The Mysterious Stones of Tonga, School Journal, Level 2, August 2017
In this article, Dr ‘Ana Maui Taufe‘ulungaki describes and discusses an unusual stone monument, Ha‘amonga ‘a Maui (the Burden of Maui), which stands near the village of Niutōua in Tonga. The monument is special because there are very few stone structures to be found anywhere in the Pacific.

Updated on: 01 Aug 2019