Friday, April 30, 2021


From the 7-9 April 2021, the Tautai o le Moana 2020 cohort attended their last residential hui to meet the new 2021 cohort and to listen to Dr Rae Si'ilata deliver the findings in the Tautai o le Moana Report.  Tautai o le Moana is a project driven in partnership between the NZ Pasifika Principals' Association (NZPPA), the New Zealand Principals' Federation (NZPF) and the Ministry of Education (MoE). It is MoE funded and designed and delivered by the NZPPA.  Dr Rae Si'ilata was contracted to follow and document the journeys of those participating in the pilot cohort of 2020.  The hui itself was hosted by the Tautai o le Moana design team who included Filivaifale Jason Swann, Helen Varney, Sose Annandale, Sepora Mauigoa and Ala'imalo Falefatu Enari who were supported by Fa'atili Iosua Esera, Geoff Siave and of course researcher Dr Rae.

The new 2021 cohort started their induction the day before the 2020s arrived, so a meet and greet took place on the evening of the 7th giving time for both cohorts to meet and get to know each other.  After an early breakfast the following day, the group settled in to the days work, starting with a round with all participants sharing one take-away from Tautai so far.  This session was reflective of the whakawhanaungatanga and manaakitanga that has be consistent through out all hui and talanoa sessions which have taken place across the initiative so far.  There was a lot of emotion, revelation, determination and realisation...all things that participants in the first cohort experienced during their time in the project.

Following this was a presentation from the Principal of Sutton Park Primary School,  Fa'atili Iosua Esera.  Fa'atili shared his experience and knowledge of culturally sustainable practice through his journey in teaching.  His forty years in education gave all those in attendance an inside view in teaching tamariki in a variety of different settings across Aotearoa, tapping into the cultural and environmental attributes and influences brought by them to their learning.  He unpacked and emphasised the strength relationships bring to learning not just teacher to student but teacher to whanau and teacher to community.  His career success is highlighted through his ability to make connections with those he serves across all divides, always espousing empathy, interest and commitment to student/whanau success.

We were privileged to watch the Rangikura School culture group who entertained us with a performance
reflecting a multitude of Pasifika and Maori culture.  There were close to 30 students in the group who without a doubt mesmerised all those present.  This group exemplified passion and commitment to their performance.  Eddie Uluilelata, Principal of Rangikura school had a great team tutoring and supporting the group, a mix of teachers, student leaders and whanau.   Eddie explained that the students presenting were only a group of the larger team which is 120 strong.   It was without a doubt a privilege to watch them and to present them with loli lei at the conclusion of their set.  This performance was an example of a strong local curriculum at work.  It was exciting to see and hear such high value being placed on the cultural literacies, movement, language, and identity.  Students were able to clearly show and articulate their purpose, the learning and the reward for presenting to us.  Such a wonderful thing to witness.

Following lunch, the group farewelled the 2021 cohort.  This concluded with a the 2020 cohort sharing a small taonga, tuakana teina style, where each new member was buddied up with a member of the previous year's cohort. It was rewarding to be able to share what the Tautai experience meant to me and to listen to what it meant to other tautai in my cohort.  While we didn't have time to share our whole journey with our teina, we were able to pass on a representation of it through our chosen taonga.  My taonga to my teina - Clara Tuifao and Lou Reddy - was a reflection through a whakatauki I found connected to my experience.  I challenged them to pay it forward to their teina when the next cohort 2022 begins next year.

The following day was spent with Dr Rae Si'ilata who shared the findings of her report on the Tautai o le Moana initiative 2021 cohort.  It was humbling to see the work that her and her team had forged into the document.  It was also humbling to realise what a wonderful privilege it was to be part of it.  From the directors, creators, participants and research team involved, it is safe to say that we were all part of what we know is something that will benefit many principals, teachers and indeed Pacifica learners in the long term.  It was very much an awakening of mind and spirit, a reflective moment to change and move forward as a way finder in the education of the akonga and kaiako in my kura.  It showed me not only the importance of identity, language and culture in the education of our children, but it gave me licence to challenge how we do things and why we do things at Nga Iwi School.  It gave me opportunity to look deeply at my village and see a way forward, giving clarity to our community's vision of success.  I was a little saddened when the workshop finished as I don't want to stop learning and reflecting in this space but I also realised that I have gained a huge network of Principals across New Zealand who are way finders too...and who are there, just a phone call away, when I have questions, need support or just want to talanoa.  
Nga mihi nui, fa'afetai tele lava to all the Tautai team for this wonderful journey you have put me and all other participants on. 

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