The Pasifika Dual Language Resources

Last month a series of books designed to help Pacific children with literacy has won an award at the SunPix Pacific Peoples Awards in Auckland, New Zealand.

The Pasifika Dual Language Resources are a set of print and online resources to help new entrant and early years Pasifika children transition to English medium schools. The resources are designed to support the early language and literacy learning of Pasifika students in English-medium classrooms.


The resources are based on the second language acquisition principle that building on the child’s language/s, helps to strengthen English language and literacy. The resources are in line with the Pasifika Education Plan and the Ministry Statement of Intent, by ensuring the linguistic strengths these students bring to school will be used to build their English language and literacy.

The resources comprise 100 dual-language flip books, audio and online resources in five Pasifika languages – Samoan, Tongan, Tokelauan, Cook Islands Māori and Niuean – and English, as well as supporting materials for teachers and parents.

Ellen MacGregor-Reid from New Zealand’s education ministry said one of the best ways to teach literacy to young people who don’t have English as their first language was to leverage the language they already use. “Children seeing their language, their culture, valued in their learning environment is really important to them engaging well.”

MacGregor-Reid added, “So when you have young children coming into particularly English-medium learning settings, and wanting to learn to read, wanting to engage in the English language, building on the strength of their home language, is a great way to do that.”

The project was piloted in 2014 with Gagana Sāmoa/English dual language books in seven south Auckland schools, with successful outcomes for students, teachers, and parents. The pilot found that students’ achievement, confidence and self-esteem increased in English language and literacy after six months at school, by using and building on the strengths of their first language, while teachers reported gaining valuable insights into how to further develop their literacy and language teaching skills and practices.

MacGregor-Reid said she was thrilled with the win, and hoped it would mean more schools and families were aware of the books.

For more information, feel free to click here.

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A New Wave of Pacific Art

A couple of months ago the Cook Islands News ran an article written by Richard Moore about how gallery owner and business man, Ben Bergman, had become a champion of modern Pacific art and exhibited a new wave of artworks.

The Bergman Gallery opened its Modern Pacific Art (MPA#1) in October, and it ran until November 24, 2018 on Rarotonga, Cook Islands. It was a show that presented contemporary Pacific art forms from twelve artists. Bergman said, “The premise of MPA is to present contemporary Pacific art forms in a context that makes them understandable and relatable to a contemporary audience.”

Bergman added, “For too long there have been very antiquated and outdated notions of what Pacific art actually is. Most people understand it as masks, spears and tapa cloths and these are all ideas that are perpetrated by large institutions that really should know better. So we are saying okay all this pre-colonial art is great … it’s the roots, it’s the backbone. But that’s not to say you cannot have a contemporary version of Pacific art and to have it valued and appreciated as such, without it being reduced on an anthropological basis.”

Bergman said the MPA premise started eight years ago. “It began in New York, interestingly enough.It was a group show like this one that we took across in 2010.”

The current MPA#1 exhibition is designed to reflect the strength of modern Pacific art across a variety of media, to give it global context and to offer it as a standard, ignoring “archaic” parameters imposed on it by Western art institutions. The 12 artists, including Cook Islanders Mahiriki Tangaroa, Sylvia Marsters, Tungane Broadbent and Brendan Kitto, offer a compelling statement, diffusing cultural stereotypes, addressing issues of identity, past and present value systems, human diaspora and economic circumstance.

Bergman said, “The show has come together really well. It was a bit of a challenge to hang because it is just so diverse, but that is what we wanted to show a broad range of Pacific art. So we have photography, sculpture, installation, we have paintings and, obviously, the big fabric tivaivai.”


Examples of Matariki Tangaroa’s artwork in New York, photo by the

One of the more eye-catching artwork was from Matariki Tangaroa. Bergman said, “Her latest painting is one of her strongest works. She talks a lot about lost information. About genealogy and valuing our history. When the missionaries first arrived a lot of language was lost, a lot of artifacts were lost and the meanings behind a lot of cultural icons were lost. So she’s talking about re-valuing them and repatriating them and making them relevant to our modern lifestyle and culture. Particularly in a Cook Islands context where so many people of Cook Islands origin are living overseas in Australia or NZ, who have lost a lot of their heritage. so it’s important to keep it strong at the base so when they come back they can access it.”

To learn more about the Bergman Gallery simply click here.

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Should the British Museum Keep the Moai?

Last week I shared a story about how the indigenous people of Easter Island have asked the British government to return one of the British Museum’s most viewed and treasured objects – the iconic stone moai statue called Hoa Hakananai’a.

This week I came across another article from Radio New Zealand about how the mayor, Pedro Edmunds Paoa, of Rapa Nui has conceded that the British Museum might be a better home for the massive native Polynesian statue taken by British seamen 150 years ago.

Paoa said the island, also known as Easter Island, had a “thousand” of the Moai and lacked the means to maintain them. “Those thousand are falling apart because they are made of a volcanic stone. Because of the wind and the rain … we need global technology for their conservation,” he said. One statue returned from Argentina “four or five years ago” was now housed in a square where stray dogs urinated on it, the mayor said.

His comments will add weight to the argument of the British Museum to keep artifacts that originate from other nations in London, where they are carefully curated and popular exhibits with visitors from around the world.

Last month, a delegation of Chilean officials and Rapa Nui dignitaries including Paoa’s brother, the Rapa Nui Council of Elders president Carlos Edmunds Paoa, traveled to London to appeal for the return of the two metre-plus tall basalt figure, known as Hoa Hakananai’a, meaning lost or stolen friend.



The statue was among 900 statues or Moai, meaning ancestors, carved by islanders between 1100 and 1600 A.D. It was taken from the island, located 3990 km west of the Chilean capital Santiago, in 1868 by Richard Powell, the captain of HMS Topaze, and presented to Queen Victoria who later gave it to the British Museum.

Pedro Edmunds Paoa said there had been intense debate on the island about whether Hoa Hakananai’a should be returned or not. “Are we going to bring the ancestors back? Fantastic,” he said. “We are going to bring them back and we are going to place them where? That Moai is in a museum where six million people come each year to visit it.”

The mayor suggested that he would prefer a financial commitment from the British Museum to help in the preservation of all Rapa Nui monuments. “It would not be an economic agreement, it would be an agreement to help Rapa Nui in what needs to be done in Rapa Nui for conservation”, he said.




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Return of the Moai

Recently the Rapa Nui, people indigenous to Easter Island, have asked the British government to return one of the British Museum’s most viewed and treasured objects – the iconic stone moai statue called Hoa Hakananai’a. The eight-foot high statue is one of hundreds carved by Polynesian settlers on Rapa Nui between the 13th and 16th centuries.

Moais are giant stone monolithic figures representing ancestors and powerful chieftains. They are synonymous with Rapa Nui, as Easter Island is now known. There are over 900 moai located on Rapa Nui. They lie scattered in fields on hilly slopes, and along the island’s sea border. Many are half buried up to their shoulder by tradition or because many standing moai had fallen or been pushed down by the 18th and 19th century.


Hoa Hakananai’a

Hoa Hakananai’a is currently exhibited in the British Museum in London after being taken from the island by British sailors 150 years ago, is seen by about 6 million visitors a year. Aside from questions of access, study, and the preservation principle of not keeping all one’s eggs in the same basket, the request for its return to Chile raises other challenging issues for the British Museum, one of the world’s great global museums.

One key question is about the importance of retaining objects that can instruct a broad audience about the richness and variety of global cultural heritage. Certainly, not everyone can get to the British Museum, but far fewer will ever be able to appreciate Rapa Nui cultural heritage in its original Easter Island location. And the people who do travel to Easter Island will be able to see the Hoa Hakananai’a’s 900 giant stone kin in their traditional cultural environment.

The Rapa Nui, on the other hand, point to the Hoa Hakananai’a’s significance as an ancestor of the people, and endowed with a life force called mana. They have said that moai provide protection and the presence of this particular moai on the island may help restore its ecology and the Rapa Nui’s culture.  With recent improvements to their heritage conservation infrastructure, they feel they are now in a position to bring Hoa Hakananai’a home and to care for it.

In response to the British Museum’s reluctance to return the statue, the Easter Islanders are now proposing that they carve a replica of Hoa Hakananai’a and trade it for the original. It would be offered to Queen Elizabeth in exchange for the original.

The carving is to take place on Rapa Nui, using thousand-year-old techniques combined with modern technology to allow the job to be completed in seven months. A committee of islanders and Chilean government officials plans to travel to London next month in hope of negotiating the moai’s return.

In August 2018, Chile’s National Monuments Council and the National Forest Service of Chile (CONAF) joined five representatives from the island’s Rapa Nui tribe to ask the British government to begin a dialogue on the return of Hoa Hakananai‘a. Chile’s National Treasures Minister Felipe Ward said that the request for the British Museum to return the statue, “seems appropriate given the new coordination and conservation functions being carried out on the island.”

Click here for more information.


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ICA Conference 2018

Last week I attended the International Council on Archives (ICA) 2018 Conference at Palais des Congrès in Yaounde, Cameroon, and I would like to share some highlights…


Before the conference, David Fricker who is President of ICA welcomed its members. He said that the conference was the premier event on the professional calendar to  strengthen networks and gather the ‘professional intelligence’ that enables each of us in the field to stay at the very forefront of developments from around the globe. He added, “The conference will be a forum to share technical knowledge, but will also serve to promote the importance of archives and records management across the  region  as  an  essential requirement for good governance and effective public administration.”

The theme of the conference was  “Archives : Governance, Memory and Heritage.” The Prime Minister of Cameroon, Philemon Yang, believed that the theme’s importance is self-evident for Africa, internally falls in line with the initiatives and public policies that the Government of Cameroon deploys so as to put in place an efficient national archives management system.

The Conference ran for three days, November, 26-28. The program included ICA governance meetings,  keynote speakers, workshops and breakout sessions. The ICA Executive Board Meeting was held on Sunday 25 November. The Executive Board discussed the organisation’s strategic directions which will contribute to the creation of the 2019-2022 strategic plan. Among ICA strategic priorities, the Executive Board decided to choose 2019 as the year of Africa. The Africa Program has been allocated resources to allow it to pursue two main objectives: raising governments awareness of archival issues on the one hand, and training professionals in the field on the other.


Yaounde, Cameroon

The Executive Board then discussed ongoing partnerships and joint initiatives between ICA and other international organizations, in particular the UNESCO-PERSIST project and the Swisspeace initiative for Prevention of Illicit Trafficking and Disaster Recovery and Heritage Preservation, as well as the “Memory of the World” program.

The General Assembly was then held on Monday 26 November. Assembly heard reports from the President and the Vice-Presidents Program and Finance, approved the organization’s accounts and endorsed the   results  for the election of officers from September 2018. Mr David Fricker and Mr Zuber were re-elected and Mr Charbonneau elected for a 4 years mandate. The General Assembly also nominated Mr Gérard Ermisse, Mr Carol Couture and Mr Jonathan Rhys-Lewis as Fellows of ICA, to acknowledge and celebrate these three great professionals.

As for me, the conference was very busy. On the second day I helped facilitate The Basics of Emergency Management and Disaster Preparedness Workshop. This interactive workshop examined the four basic stages of disaster preparedness: mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery. It helped participants to consider all situations and levels of the disaster’s impact, particularly those that cause damage to records, collections, and disrupt the flow of business and services.

The workshop was also intended to inspire participants to be more proactive before, during and after a disaster occurs at their organization. At the end of the workshop, I brought to the participant’s attention the launching of the PARBICA’s new disaster management’s guidelines. The five guidelines will guide record keeping professionals through the steps in effective disaster preparedness, response and recovery, and will show you how to identify vital records and assess significant records.


The New Guidelines on Disaster Management on the PARBICA Website:

Finally, on the last day of the conference I presented my paper titled Combating Climate Change the Traditional Way: Pacific Island Archives and the Fight to Protect Their Cultural Heritage. The paper showed how Pacific Islanders are utilizing their traditional ways to combat the threats caused by climate change. Inspired by this proactive stance and the use of traditional skills, those responsible for safekeeping cultural heritage can also learn to be more resilient. These techniques being executed by record keepers of the Pacific Islands region will then hopefully set an example and encourage worldwide cultural heritage organizations whose collection are threatened by climate change.

Overall, the conference was a success. New relationships with colleagues from around the world were formed, and old ones were renewed. The colorful, exotic African backdrop proved to show that this will be one of ICA’s most remembered conference.

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Saving the Tokelauan Language

I don’t get a lot of news from the island nation of Tokelau. So when I do, I don’t hesitate to share. Recently, the New Zealand’s Minister of Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio, called on people to become champions of the Tokelauan language.


Where is Tokelau?

During the last week of October New Zealand celebrated Tokelauan Language Week, Vaiaho o te Gagana Tokelau, which was the last of the seven Pacific language weeks held throughout the country annually.

There are more than 7000 Tokelauans in New Zealand, five times the number on the atolls, but use of the language is falling with just 2469 speaking Tokelauan at the time of the 2013 census. Aupito said with nearly three-quarters of Tokelauans now born in New Zealand, protecting and preserving the language was more important than ever.

The gradual decline had caused the UN heritage agency UNESCO to put Tokelauan on the list of severely endangered languages, he said. New Zealand had to act now to prevent it being lost to future generations, the minister said.

A little about Tokelau…


The flag of Tokelau

Tokelau is a non-self-governing territory of New Zealand consisting of three coral atolls in the South Pacific: Atafu, Nukunonu, and Fakaofo. These atolls lie approximately mid-way between Hawaii and New Zealand and about 500 km north of Samoa.

Formerly known as the Union Islands, the name ‘Tokelau Islands’ was adopted in 1946 and then shortened to ‘Tokelau’ in 1976. Tokelau’ is Polynesian for ‘North Wind’.

Archaeological evidence indicates that the atolls of Tokelau were settled around 1000 years ago. Oral history traces local traditions and genealogies back several hundred years and details the origins of the social and political order that was in place by the 19th century. According to oral sources, the three atolls functioned largely independently while maintaining social and linguistic cohesion.

Vice-Admiral John Byron of England found Atafu on his 1765 voyage but saw no signs of inhabitants. In 1791, Captain Edward Edwards found Nukunonu while searching for mutineers from the HMS Bounty. The US whaling ship General Jackson reached the island of Fakaofo in 1835.

In 1889, the islands were claimed by Britain. They became part of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands (Kiribati and Tuvalu) in 1916, which was then renamed the Union Group. In 1925, the islands came under the administration of New Zealand. They became a New Zealand territory in 1948. Today, more Tokelauans live outside Tokelau than on the islands.

Over the past three decades Tokelau has moved progressively towards its current advanced level of political self-reliance. It has its own unique political institutions, including a national legislative body and Executive Council. It runs its own judicial system and public services. It has its own shipping and telecommunications systems. It has full control over its budget. It plays an active role in regional affairs and is a member of a number of regional and international bodies.

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The Turtle and the Island- Papua New Guinea

Our next legend comes from Papua New Guinea and can be found in the book, The Turtle and the Island. I absolutely love this legend because it tells the story on how the island of New Guinea was made by a turtle who got tired of swimming through the big ocean without ever resting. It’s a wonderful story that I hope you enjoy!

The Turtle and the Island

Long, long ago, in the days when turtles had teeth, there lived a great sea-turtle, the mother of all sea-turtles, who spent her time swimming about the wide sea that now men call the Pacific Ocean. Slowly she swam, feeding on the fishes that lived in the sea and the plants that grew there, and snapping up the shellfishes that lurked in the rocks where the sea bordered the land. She swam from one side of the sea to the other, to and fro between the lands that bordered that vast ocean.

She lived in the sea, but she swam both above and below the surface of the water; above the surface she breathed the clear, fresh air and felt the warmth of the sun. She looked up to the sky and saw the sun by day and the moon by night, and the birds that flew across the ocean from land to land. She looked down into the sea and saw its dark, cold depths.

Sometimes the turtle grew tired of swimming, and rested just below the surface of the sea, but she often longed to rest in the warmth and sunshine. She thought how pleasant it would be if only there were a piece of land in the middle of the great ocean where she lived.

In a dark, secret cave far below the sea where the turtle swam there lived a man. His skin was black, and in all that great ocean he was the only man. He had no wife, no children, no tribespeople. The man was lonely in that cave beneath the sea. His heart was heavy as a stone on the seashore. He was weary of being alone.

One day, as the turtle swam about, she came to a place in the middle of the ocean where a great hill of sand was raised up from the bottom of the sea. The hill was so high that the top of it almost reached above the surface of the ocean.

“If I were to bring more sand to add to this big hill, soon it would rise clear above the water,” thought the turtle. “The sun would shine down upon it by day, and it would be a place where I could rest and enjoy the warmth and the clear air when I grow tired of swimming.”

So the turtle went to another part of the ocean floor, where she dug up rocks and more sand, and these she brought back to the hill, so that it grew higher and higher. She did this more times than anyone could count. The sun rose and set, the moon waxed and waned day after day, and still the hill grew higher. And at last it became a huge island in the middle of the sea, and the turtle saw that her work was finished.

Then the birds that flew across the ocean from land to land brought seeds of plants and trees and dropped them on the island. Grasses and flowering plants and tall trees sprang up, covering the rocks and sand. It was a beautiful, fertile island, surrounded by the sea which teemed with fishes large and small.

The turtle rested on the sun-warmed ground of the island she had made. No longer did she have to spend her whole life swimming through the wide ocean and resting just below its surface. And although she still swam about as before, she never strayed very far from the island she had made.

One day, she swam down, down into the ocean, much deeper and farther than she had ever swum before. How dark and cold it was down there, far from the light and warmth of the sun! Suddenly the turtle swam into the dark, secret cave where the man with the black skin had lived alone for such a long time. The man was overjoyed when the turtle came to him; he begged her to find him a wife who would be his companion and bear children.

The Turtle and the Island (Papua New Guinea)

“The Turtle and the Island,” illustration courtesy of Tara Bonvillain, copyright 2018.

The turtle felt pity for the man’s loneliness. She took him, riding on her strong shell, to the island she had made. Then she swam across the sea to the nearest land, to a place where a woman stood on the shore, a beautiful woman with black skin. She was weeping; like the man, she was lonely. She desired a husband and longed to bear children. So the turtle took the woman back across the sea to the island, and brought her as a wife for the man.

The man and the woman lived together on the island in happiness and peace. They laughed, they played in the sea, sometimes they quarreled, but they never lost the joy in their hearts. They made children together, beautiful black-skinned children, and those children had more children, and those children had more children. In this way the island became filled with people who grew crops and built houses and fished along the seashore.

 And in time the island that the great sea-turtle had made became known as New Guinea.

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