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Rotorua schools embrace Samoan Language Week celebrations

Te Ahikaa Trotman

Rotorua schools embrace Samoan Language Week celebrations

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

Samoan Language Week is being celebrated around the world this week and here in Rotorua.

The theme for this year’s Vaiaso o le Gagana Samoa (Samoan Language Week) is “Mitamita i lau gagana, maua’a lou fa’asinomaga”, which translates to “Be proud of your language and grounded in your identity”.

Although Samoan people only make up 3.9 per cent of the population, Samoan is the third most spoken language in New Zealand, with 2 per cent of people as native speakers.

Schools in Rotorua have been celebrating the week by using cultural practices.

Lily Gouws, centre manager at Montessori Rotorua Preschool, says children at the site have taken part in special activities to acknowledge the event.

“We teach them greetings in Samoan, we teach them karakia in Samoan and we teach them sayings.”

Gouws says the preschool is blessed to have a Samoan teacher, Janet Brighouse, and she has brought her culture into the classroom.

”I think Samoan Language Week is very important because your language is your identity, it’s a sense of respect also,” Gouws says.

”In Aotearoa, we live in a country with so many cultures so I think it’s important to embrace each culture”.

Gouws says people can celebrate the Samoan culture by doing something as simple as greeting somebody in Samoan.

“The Montessori Rotorua Preschool wants to embrace all the cultures and the more cultures we can get in our school, the more we can learn about different cultures”.

St Mary’s Catholic School has also celebrated the week. Samoan students Max Schuster, 11, and Bourneton Faalogoifo, 10, said there had been a number of activities and two of their favourite sayings are fa’afetai, which translates to thank you, and malo soifua, which is a form of greeting.

”We’ve done loads of things, usually in past years we haven’t done anything but this year we’ve done heaps more,” Bourneton says.

”We’ve been doing more activities, dancing and learning the language more.”

Hero Image: Glenda Faalogoifo, 8, and Max Schuster, 11, brought Samoan culture alive on Friday at St Mary's Catholic School. Photo / William Sangster

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