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Samoa Language Week

Tālofa lava! Afio mai!

Samoa Language Week / Vaiaso o le Gagana Samoa is being held from Sunday 28 May – Saturday 3 June 2023. 

In the 2018 New Zealand census, Samoans made up 3.9% of the New Zealand population. In total, 182 721 people identified as being part of the Samoan ethnic group, an increase of 38 583 people since the 2013 census.

About Samoa Language Week 

Tapa cloth.

Samoa Language Week / Vaiaso o le Gagana Samoa is organised by the Ministry for Pacific Peoples to maintain and promote the language and culture of Samoa. Gagana Samoa is the second most spoken language in some cities like Auckland and Porirua, and the third most spoken language across New Zealand. 

Samoa Language Week 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.  

This special week helps all New Zealanders journey towards shared cultural understandings. 

Curriculum connections 

NZC Curriculum icon.

Samoa Language Week supports the curriculum principles of cultural diversity and inclusion, and provides an opportunity for students to explore the values of diversity and respect. Students who learn about the language and culture of Samoa can make use of key competencies and achieve learning outcomes described in the learning languages learning area.

How can you get involved? 

Parent showing students cultural artifact from Samoa

Some ideas for classroom programmes or school-wide activities:

Use your students as teachers
There is a high chance that you will have some speakers of Gagana Samoa in your school. Encourage those students to be experts during Samoa Language Week, 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 these students to prepare the Samoa Language Week celebrations for the school, investigating the value of fa‘asamoa to others and placing an emphasis on shared language experiences.

Make connections to your community
Samoa 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‘asamoa way. Family members might like to share their customs and beliefs with the students. This is a great way to practise Gagana Samoa, as students can interact with fluent speakers in an everyday situation.

Discussion starters 
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?" This video could be used to explore attitudes towards learning Gagana Samoa. 

Learn some simple words and phrases
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)

Speech competition
Hold a school Gagana Samoa speech competition, using senior students or parents as the judges.

Create a language resource 
Support students to create a Gagana Samoa resource that can be used by teachers and students across the school. Students could create a picture book, a simple language game, a vocabulary poster, a digital slideshow, etc. 

Read books written in Gagana Samoa 
Share books that are written in Gagana Samoa with your students. You could ask a grandparent or parent who is fluent in Gagana Samoa to come in and read. Check your resource room for Pasifika dual language resourcesThey are designed to support the early language and literacy learning of Pasifika new entrant students in English-medium classrooms. 

Download apps
Help your students download and use apps specifically designed with Gagana Samoa learners in mind, such as Little Learners Sāmoa and Fa'a Samoa.

Get involved in events
Find information about Vaiaso o le Gagana Samoa 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 Samoa Language Week is to incorporate it into your reading and writing programme. The Instructional Series offers several texts about the culture and language of Samoa. Here are our top picks:

Dances of Samoa, School Journal Level 2, October 2012
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. 

Uncle Tino, School Journal Level 2, October 2012
This is a story about twins, Jessie and Jonas, who are embarrassed by their exuberant uncle who has recently arrived from Samoa. The lively story is woven through with Samoan concepts and values as Jessie and Jonas gradually change their attitudes toward Uncle Tino.

White Sunday in Samoa, Ready to Read, Level 1, 2003
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.

Useful resources

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 about the language and culture of Samoa.

Ministry for Pacific Peoples – Samoa Language Week
This webpage provides information about Samoa Language Week and includes a downloadable poster, banners, a calendar of events, and messages of support. 

Teaching and learning Gagana Samoa
This section of the Pasifika Education Community has been developed to support the teaching of Gagana Samoa.

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.

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

Samoan Language Week on Facebook  
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.

Christchurch City Libraries – Samoan Language Week

This page highlights 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.

Inclusive Education Guides for Schools – Supporting Pacific learners
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 stories

Find out how schools are designing their curriculum to include connections to the language and culture of Samoa. 

Rangikura School – Pasifika parent group leads learning
During Samoa 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.

Papakowhai School – Celebrating Samoa Language Week
This snapshot describes an integrated art and social sciences project that was planned for Year 5 and 6 students for Samoa Language Week. Find out how the NZC principles of cultural diversity and community engagement were brought to life through this sequence of learning activities. 

You might like ... 

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 the language and culture of Samoa in our schools and classrooms.

Updated on: 13 Jan 2022