Sixty-six students graduated from the Samoa Language and Culture School, Lupe Fofoa I Vaoese, on Saturday, the 26th of November, at the Fale o Samoa in Mangere.
The school not only aims to promote the Samoan language (every day and oratory) and culture but also to be accessible online to Samoans around the globe who are wanting reconnect and learn.
The school intake for its second term doubled as more people became aware of the school through their social media pages and website.
The Samoan and Culture School teacher, Asiata Pio Vaoliko, expressed his gratitude to the board of trustees, Asiata Atina'e Vaai, Faumuina Lafaele Lupo, Leaupepetele Talai Lene and Anae Martin Anae, for taking the leap of faith and believing in his vision to start a Samoan school.
The board for Lupe Fofoa i Vaoese was very grateful to Lemalu Silao Vaisola Sefo, the Chief Executive of South Seas Healthcare, Public Health Team Leader Shaun Tautali and Community Engagement coordinator Tuala Victor Vaauli for their generosity and involvement in the community. The Otara-based Medical Health Provider, South Seas Healthcare, provided the venue and facilities for the school term free of charge.
Asiata also acknowledged a non-government organisation called Grace Foundation, which helps rehabilitate and reintegrate people coming out of prison into the community for being brave and taking on the challenge of rediscovering their heritage and genealogy.
Asiata stated in his keynote address that it was important for his students not to start from the "lauga" or oratory speech but to begin from the basics.
He used the structure of an Ava Ceremony as an example, where you learn how to "Sufi ava" this is when the tulafale (talking chief) of the visitors or Malaga folafola or make known the ava roots that were collected by the hosting village and to "Folafola Ava," the Matai (Chief) of the hosting village would address each Matai who brought an ava root to the ceremony.
Asiata believes students will learn more if they understand the true meaning of some of the proverbs and metaphors used in the Samoan language if they start from the Tautua (serving) stage.
A graduate from the Lupe Fofoa i Vaoese and board member, Leaupepetele Talai Jr Lene, spoke about his experience of putting what he learnt from the Samoan classes into practice.
He said that Lupe Fofoa i Vaoese helped him with his confidence to speak in the Samoan oratory language
He encouraged the graduating students to try and learn one sentence a day and speak it often, "even if you stumble and make mistakes, it's all part of learning and being better."
The Minister for Pacific Peoples, Honourable Aupito Tofae Su'a William Sio, thanked the Lupe Fofoa i Vaoese for encouraging and doing their part in keeping the Samoan Language and culture alive.
The Ministry for Pacific Peoples on September 23 2022, launched a Pacific Language Strategy with crucial objectives,
To recognise the value of Pacific languages in Aotearoa
To strengthen pathways and resources for learning, and learning in, Pacific languages.
To see Pacific languages used more often and in more spaces.
Aupito stressed the importance of using the Samoan language at home and the workplace. The Minister echoed what Leaupepe said about "Don't let fear stop you from attending Samoan and family gatherings" he challenged those who can't speak the language to learn and utilise language schools such as Lupe Fofoa i Vaoese "Build your confidence by learning about who you are."
Lupe Fofoa i Vaoese was established on December 7 2021, to help Samoans living in NZ and abroad learn about the Samoan Language and Culture.
It started with 39 students and increased to 66.
To enrol on the 2023 classes, you can register here