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World-first innovation may help preserve Pacific languages

Alakihihifo Vailala

A new online platform marries technology with traditional knowledge to make it easier for children to learn their Pacific language.

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

An innovative new online hub could will help preserve Pacific languages, says an educational expert.

Theresa Tupuola Sorenson is the co-founder of Pacific Kids Learning (PKL), an award winning enterprise that designs and creates child-friendly resources for Pacific languages.

Most recently, PKL launched the Pacific Digital Library which is a pioneering streaming platform which has Pacific-inspired content for children, parents and educators.

Speaking on 531pi Pacific Mornings, Sorenson says it’s been a few years work developing the content but they’re proud of reaching the milestone.

“We know first-hand the importance of trying to preserve our Pacific cultures in a world of competing priorities. Busy families don’t often have time to share their traditions with their tamaiti (children). By marrying technology with tradition, we can help bridge the cultural knowledge gap while creating entertaining, age-appropriate content for our kids.”

The platform features hundreds of Pacific cultural songs, dances, stories, educational animations and resources in 10 Pacific languages and English.

Sorenson says “coming out of the pandemic, there is a need for Pasifika to create our own digital platforms, to create a streaming platform that is safe for our children.”

The Pacific Digital Library is free for New Zealand-based subscribers and also includes a teacher subscription which comes paired with lesson plans, activity sheets and other supporting materials.

Pacific Kids Learning also offer other initiatives such as the Pacific Digital Dance project which involved the composition and production of nine original songs in Samoan, Tongan and Te Reo Maori Kuki ‘Airani.

Each song was then matched with a choreographed dance and captured with the use of 3D motion capture technology and transformed into animations.

“Our elders have contributed to this. Language experts, translators, people from our churches, our local musicians, it is a collection of knowledge and it’s all about sharing.

“It’s also about the blessing of having these stories shared. We’ve got the permission from the families and elders to share these stories.”

Watch the full interview with Theresa Tupuola Sorenson below:

Hero image: Co-directors of Pacific Kids Learning (left to right), Evo Tupou, Tatiana Marich and Theresa Tupuola-Sorenson. Photo/ Supplied

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