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Gagana Tokelau Language Week / Te Vaiaho o te Gagana Tokelau

Malo ni!

Gagana Tokelau Language Week is celebrated from Sunday 22 October to Saturday 28 October 2023.

 About Tokelau Language Week 

Flag of Tokelau.

Tokelau is made up of three small coral atolls and is home to around 1500 people. There are more than 7000 Tokelau peoples living in New Zealand with over half of the country’s Tokelau community living in the Porirua and Hutt Valley areas of Wellington. There are also Tokelau communities in Auckland, Taupō, and Rotorua. Family, community, and language are the centre of Faka-Tokelau, the Tokelau way of life.  

Gagana Tokelau Language Week provides the opportunity to introduce your students to the culture and language of Tokelau which in turn keeps Gagana Tokelau alive in New Zealand. This special week helps all New Zealanders journey towards shared cultural understandings. Learning a new language gives insight to new ways of thinking and to different beliefs and cultural practices.

Through this learning you will acquire knowledge, understanding, and skills that will enable you to engage with Aotearoa New Zealand's culturally diverse world.

Curriculum connections 

NZC Curriculum icon.

Gagana Tokelau Language Week supports the curriculum principles of cultural diversity and inclusion, and provides an opportunity for students to explore the values of diversity, community, and respect. Students can achieve learning outcomes described in the learning languages area and make use of key competencies, especially using language, symbols and texts, and relating to others.

How can you get involved?

Some ideas for classroom programmes or school-wide activities:

Make connections to your community
There is a chance that you will have some Tokelauan speakers in your school community. Encourage those students and their families to be experts during Tokelau Language Week and validate their expertise in front of other students. Support them to teach their language and prepare the Tokelau Language Week celebrations for the school, placing an emphasis on shared language experiences.

Discussion starters 
Use the following questions as discussion starters with your class:

  • "Why is it important for all New Zealanders to celebrate and learn Tokelauan?" 
  • "What benefits will this bring to Tokelau peoples living in New Zealand?" 

This YouTube video could be used to explore how Tokelau New Zealanders are working together to protect their language and culture.  

Learn some simple words and phrases
Words and phrases you could try:

  • Hello: Malo ni
  • Greetings everyone: Fakamālo atu kia te koutou uma
  • Goodbye – to those who are leaving: Tofa koutou
  • Goodbye – to those who are staying: Tofa ni
  • Welcome: Malo te aofia mai
  • Please: Fakamolemole
  • Thank you: Fakafetai

You can use this education language resource to learn the basics in Te Gagana Tokelau. 

Cover page of Fano ki te Kāiga.

Pasifika dual language books
Ask a grandparent or parent to come and read to children in the classroom/library at lunchtime. Check your resource room for Gagana Tokelau titles from the Pasifika dual language resourcesIf students have Tokelauan speakers at home, give them Gagana Tokelau books to take home.

Get involved in events
Find information about Te Gagana Tokelau and related events on the Ministry for Pacific Peoples website, on this Facebook page, or on the website of your local city library.

Instructional series 

Another great way to get your students involved in Tokelau Language Week is to incorporate it into your reading and writing programme. The Instructional Series offers the following texts: 

Tafoe O! School Journal Level 2, November 2018
Every Sunday, a group of Tokelau adults and children meet in Wellington to pass on cultural knowledge. Recently, artist and master carver Paulino Tuwhala guided the group through the task of carving foe (paddles), which they used to perform a tafoe (dance).

Solar Power in Tokelau Junior Journal 57, Level 2 2018
This report highlights the world-first achievement of Tokelau in using renewable energy sources (solar energy and coconut oil) for all its electricity. It explains why Tokelau decided to switch from using fossil fuels and includes comments from a Tokelau family that illustrate the impact of the change. 

Magō! School Journal Level 2, August 2020
This is a humorous, entertaining story based on a true event. It provides examples of characterisation and dialogue as well as being a model for imaginative writing.

Useful 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.

Ministry for Pacific Peoples – Tokelau Language Week
This webpage provides information about Tokelau Language Week and includes a downloadable poster, banners, and language cards. 

Tokelauan language cards (PDF 860 KB)
Find helpful words, phrases, and proverbs. 

Pasifika dual language resources
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. 

Tokelau dictionary
An online Gagana Tokelau dictionary. 

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.

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

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.

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

Updated on: 23 Oct 2020