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Naenae School bilingual unit: Samoan proverbs and Samoan pride

Samoan bilingual unit with Kalapu Masoe

Wellington, NEW ZEALAND — "E mamae le Tava'e i ona fulu" is a Samoan Proverb which, in English, means "We are proud of who we are and where we come from."

At Naenae Primary School's Samoan bilingual unit, students learn to be proud of their culture and language.

The unit is the only one of its kind in the Wellington region and has two classes: a junior class, Teuila, and a senior class, Ifilele.

Unit leader Kalapu Masoe said that staff are extremely proud of what they have achieved.

"This has been my goal to have this bilingual unit, and now we finally have it, and I'm so proud that we are the first one in Wellington," he said.

Masoe said that the students are very happy to be in the unit, learning about their language and culture.

As they grow in knowledge they also learn to take great pride and joy in their Samoan identity.

Jane Tauiliili is one of the other unit leaders.

"We do it for the kids, as a New Zealand-born Samoan, growing up here in New Zealand, you don't know who you are and you are trying to find out who that is because you are drifting from two paths, and teach them who they are, they honour that wholeheartedly and they walk their values," she explains.

"It's important to pass on knowledge, to pass on our stories down the line to the next generation.

"To be able to share that with our kids, and to able to know that the next generation is going to be set in keeping our language and culture alive here in Aotearoa, that's what our goal is," Tauiliili said.

Naenae Primary School Principal, Murray Bootten said the unit is the school responding to the needs of the Community.

"We have always run a Samoan language enrichment program but with the increase in our Samoa families and the need to provide them with the enrichment of their language and their culture, and having the staff available enabled us to set up the bilingual unit, which was established two years ago."

The students were not shy about expressing how much they enjoyed being part of the unit.

Iva, a 10 year-old student, said she enjoys sharing her culture with others. Leron, aged 9, has enjoyed improving his Gagana Samoa (Samoan language) so that he is becoming a fluent speaker.

He said my favorite Samoan word is 'fa'amalosi' Be strong, if anyone is trying to bully you, just remember that Jesus is in your heart, and just be strong."