Past Pacific Grant recipients

Supporting educators to undertake an inquiry that promotes equitable outcomes for Pacific ākonga

CORE Education is pleased to offer our Pasifika Education Grant to the following recipients.
  • 2021

    2021 2021

    Chloe Davidson and Ben Vete

    Starship Hospital (Ward 24ab Playroom 10198)


    Mālō e lelei, Talofa lava, Fakaalofa lahi atu, Ni sa bula vinaka, Kia Orana, Malo ni and warm Pasifika greetings.

    We are hospital Play Specialists and registered Early Childhood teachers working within the hospital licensed play services, at Starship Children’s hospital. We have strong links to our Pacific backgrounds, Ben with Tongan heritage and Chloe with Samoan heritage. We are passionate about supporting Pasifika families who are proportionally over represented in the hospital setting.

    We see the need to formalise a process to better support our Pasifika learners, their whānau with hospital play and specific education around their medical procedures. We see our project as a way to bridge the gap that currently exists in the medical setting for Pasifika whānau.

    Our philosophy and learning priorities for our tamariki and their whānau are improving outcomes for Pasifika learners in the hospital setting, through embracing their culture and identity.

    Our project will help provide whānau with a Pasifika Play Specialists to listen too, advocate for and build up our future generation with knowledge, confidence and resilience so that they can take these dispositions/ strategies from the hospital setting and use them in all walks of life.

    Kelsey Flynn

    Rolleston College

    Ia Ora na

    My name is Kelsey Flynn and I am very grateful for this grant. I was born in the USA but moved to Christchurch when I was 4. My grandfather was Tahitian and I am able to trace my roots to the Pomare family. Due to this and the fact that my mum was a lecturer in Pacific Art, I have always been around Pasifika people and learnt about different aspects of their cultures. When I became a teacher I wanted to use this knowledge to help my students understand more about their own cultural identities and learn more about my own. I am currently completing a Masters in Education, and will have this endorsed with leadership and culturally responsive pedagogy.

    My inquiry is based at Rolleston College, where I have just been appointed the teacher in charge of Pasifika success. My aim is to create a space where all Pasifika students at the College feel comfortable being themselves and where they see their cultures reflected in daily school life. I will be getting the wider community involved in teaching the students about different Pacific nations and cultures. I am hoping that this will in turn make the students feel more confident in themselves and that we may see the achievement gap between Pasifika and European students begin to close.

    Peseta Pele T. Tui and team

    Pasifika Early Learning Taita

    Kia Ora, Talofa lava, Kia Orana, Mālō nī, Mālō e lelei, Fakaalofa lahi atu and warm Pasifika greetings from tamariki, whanau, kaiako and community of Pasifika Early Learning Taita in Wellington.

    2020 was a year like no other in our lives. The impact of COVID-19 changed everything! What was our normal was shaken and rocked, pushing us all to find and explore new norms and new ways of being. Many would agree that whilst it kept people isolated and distanced, there were many more moments that brought us closer together.

    As an early learning service, we too were challenged. Staying connected to our tamariki, parents, whanau, kaiako as well as the wider community was a priority. Communication through different on-line mediums was challenging but essential. Making learning available to our tamariki in a fun and refreshed way was very important.

    What kept everyone focused on ‘ako’ teaching and learning during these times was our cultural model, the FALE of Learning Curriculum Design & Evaluation, we call the FALE of Learning! The fale, fale tele or fale afolau, wharenui or house is a metaphor, familiar to our community and used to bring life to our local curriculum!

    The aim of our project 2021, is to further strengthen the ‘FALE of Learning’ to reflect what is important to tamariki, whanau, kaiako and the wider community. To do this, our learning leadership team, Peseta Pele T. Tui, Siitia Lauvi-Anae, Kuini Alapati-Vaitupu and kaiako Tusi Mafiti and Fa’ase’e V. Pese will focus their inquiries not only on the ‘learning environment and learning experiences’ that the FALE of Learning is offering tamariki but ‘what and how the FALE will enhance and support positive learning outcomes?’

    Senia Eastmure and team

    Palmerston North Boys’ High School

    Noa'ia, Mauri, Ni Sa Bula Vinaka, Fakaalofa lahi atu, Tālofa, Kia orana, Mālō e lelei, Mālō nī, Talofa lava, Tēnā koutou katoa and warm Pacific greetings to all,

    We come from Palmerston North Boys' High School in the mighty Manawatu region. Our Pasifika Support team consists of passionate, driven and motivated faiako/faiaoga/kaiako who aim to help and support our young men in all areas of their school life, as well as preparing them for the real world.

    My name is Senia Samuelu Faiumu Eastmure. I am Samoan and teaching visual arts and photography at our school. This year, I will be working alongside Lifeimi Mafi, who is involved with our Sports Development programs as well as my co-Dean for Pasifika students; we also have Michael Ioane who has returned as an old boy and is a teacher aide; we are also blessed to have the knowledge and support of Pa Anthony Lobb who is our schools Leadership Director and is a descendant of Rangitāne.

    I will be leading our Pasifika Support team in a program called ‘Restorative Talanoa’ which uses the indigenous approaches of talanoa to mentor our senior students in Year 12 and 13. This program began in 2020 after the return from the COVID-19 Lockdown, to bring our senior Pasifika students together and re-connect with one another.

    The Restorative Talanoa process encourages our boys to re-connect with their Pasifika identities and use these tools to continue being resilient in their current journeys through school, as well as their future walks of life. As they gain new life lessons, our aspirations are that they become positive role models that will contribute to our future Pasifika communities.

    Desmond Moemoe

    Clendon Park School

    Talofa lava, Fakaalofa lahi atu, Kia Orana and many greetings.

    My name is Desmond Moemoe Leota and I am an Associate Principal at Clendon Park School in Manurewa. I have been an educator for 10 years and I thoroughly enjoy working with our young people to ensure that they are able to maximise their learning opportunities and fulfill their potential.

    I am Samoan and I have taken the time to learn Te Reo Maori to gain a deeper understanding of the Maori culture. I currently work in our school teaching a ‘all boys class’ in our Maori Bilingual unit, Te Whanau Awhina. I am proud to be able to speak in both languages and to use this to support both our Maori and Pacifica students in our school.

    My inquiry in 2021 will focus on using students language and culture to help raise student achievement. This will also involve building strong relationships with parents, aiga, whanau, iwi and hapuu. I believe that when a student is able to have a strong sense of identity, a good understanding of their cultures core values and beliefs i.e., tikanga, a safe learning environment underpinned by their cultural beliefs and values - this in turn will develop and build confident leaders who will excel during their time at school.

    Havana Vili Misa

    Mapusaga Aoga Amata

    Talofa Lava.

    My name is Havana Vili Misa and I am the centre manager at Mapusaga Aoga Amata in Christchurch.

    Our centre is a total immersion Samoan entity operated on the grounds of the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa (EFKS). Our centre honours the church’s Christian values and beliefs and we are committed to providing high quality early childhood education in an environment that reflects the spiritual and cultural beliefs of Samoan people.

    Our project is based around strengthening these cultural values and beliefs and making sure that it is evident in our centre. We will be ‘encouraging our parents and families to engage with their children’s learning, supporting them to have their voice in the design of our local curriculum and our Fale Tele Model.

  • 2020

    2020 2020

    Rebecca Fa’alologo

    Kew Pacific Island Early Learning Centre, Invercargill


    Talofa lava, Kam na mauri, Fakaalofa lahi atu, Ni sa bula vinaka, , Mālō e lelei, Kia Orana, Noa’ia, Malo ni and warm Pasifika greetings.

    My name is Rebecca Fa’alologo and I am the centre supervisor of Kew Pacific Island Early Learning Centre in Invercargill. I lead a strong and passionate team of teachers Rosie Teuauaa, Valessa Kaifoto, Mere Tauvoli, Mariana Bradshaw, Harieta Eno, Wendy Murphy and Annette Mcdonald. We are a Pacific Island Early Learning Centre owned and governed by the Pacific Island Advisory Charitable Trust here in Invercargill. Our philosophy and learning priorities for our tamaiti focus strongly on embracing Pasifika language, culture and identity and improving outcomes for Pasifika learners and communities.

    The inquiry that I will lead in collaboration with my team is around ‘Strengthening pathways to school’. This inquiry project will look at bridging the gap between ECE and Primary Education, continuity in strong learner identity throughout the transition process and the potential of increasing more positive outcomes for Pacific learners if engaged in a quality transition to school programme. We will work closely with our fanau and wider Pasifika community to ensure this inquiry is responsive to their needs.

    Siālele Alipia

    Marlborough Girls’ College, Blenheim

    Tālofa lava. O lo’u igoa o Siālele Mauga Alipia. O lo’u Tinā e sau mai le nu’u o Levī i Saleimoa, ae o lo’u Tamā e sau mai le nu’u lea o Lotofagā i Safata. Sa ou fanau i Aukilani, ma o lo’u olaga ‘ā’oga ma la’u galuega fa’afaiāoga sa fai fo’i i lenei aai. Warm Pasifika greetings. My name is Siālele Mauga Alipia. I am married to Dempsey Alipia, who hails from Leulumoega Tuai in Samoa. We have four children - Joseph, Jeasinah, Julianah and Jonah. I was born and raised in Auckland and now live in the sunniest place in New Zealand. Top of the South Island; Blenheim Marlborough. I am an English teacher at Marlborough Girls’ College.

    My photo is of my whānau class; 13ALIW Measina o Tahi Marawa. ‘Treasures of the Pacific Ocean’. It is a combination of Samoan, Tongan and Kiribati language as is the makeup of my whānau class. My girls named our class which gave them pride but foremost, agency in the classroom. They are the reason for this opportunity from Core Education to assist in my inquiry. Many of our Pasifika students are from first migrant families to New Zealand. My inquiry is based on: ‘Best teacher practice that recognises the importance of cultural locatedness in education settings to support Pasifika students and their academic achievement.’ Our Pasifika students thrive in their culture outside of the classroom, yet it can be a different story in the classroom. Especially if they are the only Pasifika student. I believe in equity in the classroom and look forward to collaborating with the pillars of influence/champions of our Pasifika learners. Like our Whakataukī o te Kura Te Kāreti Kōhine o Wairau – ‘Mā te kahukura ka rere te manu’ ‘Adorn the birds with feathers so that it may fly.’

    Jeanne Pau’uvale Teisina and Meleane Lolohea Pauuvale

    Akoteu Kato Kakala, Auckland

    Malo e lelei pe a malo ‘a ‘etau to e ma’u ‘a e ‘ahoni, Talofa lava, Ni Sa Bula Vinaka, Fakalofa lahi atu, Kia orana, Malo Ni and warm Pasifika greetings.

    Ko Jeanne Teisina mo Meleane Lolohea Pauuvale ho ma hingoa . Meleane is married to the late Sifa Pau’uvale of Hofoa with four children and thirteen makapuna. Jeanne is married to Mosese Teisina of Ha’ano with three daughters Seinisia, Meleane and Akosita. We were born in the island of Vava’u in the friendly Islands of Tonga and now residing in Aotearoa New Zealand.

    We both work at Akoteu Kato Kakala, a Tongan Language Nest in South Auckland - Otara. Akoteu Kato Kakala was built on the aspirations of revitalisation and maintenance of cultural language and heritage for our whanau and tamariki born in Aotearoa New Zealand. Akoteu Kato Kakala began as a playgroup in Māngere 22 years ago started by Meleane Pau’uvale then we shifted to Otara to start as a licensed ECE centre in 2006. We are both early childhood teachers who are highly involved in Tongan/ Pasifika early childhood education in Auckland. We have a strong belief in the importance of revitalising language and culture for our Tongan/ Pasifika children in New Zealand.

    Our project is titled Falehanga – empowering the collective through building AKO (teaching and learning) benefitting educators and learners within the context of AKOTEU TONGA (Tongan ECE). The aspirations to further localise Te Whariki 2017 using the falehanga concept and how that translate into practice within Akoteu context - to ensure that we are providing meaningful learning experiences for our children, kainga or families, faiako – educators/teachers and pule – leaders.

    'Ana Pahulu and Joanne Al-Rubaie

    Sancta Maria College, Auckland

    ‘Ana Pahulu

    I was born and raised in Tonga and migrated to New Zealand in 2000. I grew up in an environment where education is highly valued, and parents’ expectations and aspirations for their children are extremely high, although families often lack the skills and resources to support their children to fulfil their academic potential. I am intrigued by why Pasifika learners continue to be over-represented in the underachievement statistics, and how can I effectively change my practice to improve outcomes for my Pasifika learners.

    Our inquiry collaboration started because we wanted to explore how we can shift our mind-set and conceptualise our practice through a Tongan lens. Why Tongan? Because a Tongan mentoring experiment has started at our school, and we want the language and cultural knowledge valued in that programme to filter out into our classrooms as well. We also want this work to act as a template for developing culturally aware practices for other Pasifika cultures. We ask ourselves- How can we better align our pedagogical approach with the needs and aspirations of our Pasifika learners, families and communities? This inquiry is a quest to finding answers. It is a journey in shifting mind-sets and attempting to use a different lens as a vehicle to teaching the curriculum in the hope that it will translate to improved academic outcomes for our Pasifika learners.

    Joanne Al-Rubaie

    I have a passion to see all students use their talents and discover new ones that will benefit them on their life-long journey. I believe that culture identifies a person and that for a student to feel part of their culture they need to understand it and its history. I witnessed the transformation of the Welsh language during 90s and 00s and saw how students felt a pride in belonging. I have been teaching for 25 years, 9 in New Zealand, having come from Wales in 2011. My main subject is Digital Technologies and Dean of Year 13 students.

  • 2019

    2019 2019

    Charlotte Gipps

    Mahurangi College

    Kam na mauri, Fakatalofa atu, Ni sa bula vinaka, Talofa lava, Mālō e leilei, Kia orana, Fakaalofa lahi atu, Malo ni. My name is Charlotte Gipps and I am the Head of Social Sciences at Mahurangi College. When I came to Mahu in 2015 I became part of a school with a vibrant Pacific community whose identities lie predominantly with the languages, identities and culture of Kiribati and Tuvalu. I wanted to understand more to ensure my teaching and learning environment connected with the strong cultural values of our students and their families, and would sustain their success.

    Collaboration within our community and further research with my colleague Sitiula Neleta has already guided changes we have made in the social sciences. My inquiry is focused on the wellbeing of our Pacific learners in the Year 9 and 10 social studies programme. It is about developing more authentic partnerships with our families. I want our students to see and feel that their languages, identities and cultural knowledge are being validated in their learning environment. That we can collaborate positively to create learning opportunities that sustain their success.

    Karyn Grey

    Maeroa Intermediate School


    My name is Karyn Ann Peta Grey. I have two wonderful children and a very special granddaughter. My father was born in Niue and my mother, in Otago, New Zealand. I grew up in two very different worlds, teaching me to be proud of my uniqueness and to embrace the differences of those around me. Teaching runs in the family and the education sector was the only career I was ever going to choose. I have been teaching for 17 years in the mighty Waikato. I am currently a team leader at Maeroa Intermediate School, where I have the pleasure of continuing to learn from the amazing people around me.

    The Inquiry that I am planning to undertake focuses on how Intermediate schools are preparing our Pasifika students to be successful in High School. This inquiry project aims to seek out gaps in current knowledge of Y7 and 8 teachers (regardless of intermediate or full primary) and their practice in around catering to Pasifika learners. By also working alongside local high schools, and bringing together Y7-10 students, we will be able to initiate effective change and learning for our Pasifika learners.

    I am encouraged by previous grant recipients and the amazing work that has been done in our communities and look forward to add to this knowledge for the betterment of our Pasifika learners, and teachers of Pasifika learners.

    Kristina Peina and Patrick Rounds

    Te Puke High School


    Bula vinaka, Mauri. My name is Kristina Peina and my colleague's name is Patrick Rounds. We both work at Te Puke High School. I am from Hamilton New Zealand, I am married and have 3 children. Patrick is from Fiji, he is married and has 5 beautiful children! I am an academic advisor and the teacher in charge of ESOL at our school. I help to oversee the achievement of Pacific Island students and I am also involved in the pastoral care of new migrants to our school. Patrick is our Te Waa Pasifika student mentor. He runs group mentoring sessions and works one on one with Pacific Island students. We work together to improve educational outcomes for Pacific Island students and to improve Pacific Island pride within our school. We also work collaboratively with a group of teachers from our contributing intermediate and primary schools. We meet once a fortnight to work towards common goals for Pacific Island students, across the Te Puke schools network.

    One-third of the Pasifika students at our school are from Kiribati. Kiribati students make up 3% of our roll. Nearly all of the Kiribati students are first-generation migrants and the numbers of Kiribati students in most of the Te Puke schools are growing. This reflects the growing numbers in our community. Most of the Kiribati students are second language speakers and until recently, many left school early without achieving NCEA Level 2. Most of our Kiribati students now complete NCEA Level 2. The next steps are to build confidence and leadership within the students. We are also really keen to work with the community, whānau and students to improve the quality of NCEA credits achieved, increase the numbers of students passing NCEA Level 3, strengthen Kiribati tertiary pathways, job prospects, job security and income potential in the future.

    Angela Bland, Aneta Matagi, Finau Havea and Sister Monika Mo'ale

    Riccarton High School

    Angela Bland

    Warm Pasifika greetings. My name is Angela Bland. I am married to Marcio Fernando Anguisaca Munoz and our children are Sofia Alexandra (17) and Reuben Sebastian (14). I have been involved in teaching and learning inside and outside of New Zealand for 25 years. More recently, I have been the Head of Department for English as an Additional Language at Riccarton High School for 8 years. Over this time, our team has grown from two, to a dynamic team of ten members. I have facilitated the Christchurch ESOL cluster, been an English for Academic Purposes' NZQA moderator, a member of the CANTESOL committee and the TESOLANZ Executive. One of my greatest privileges is being a member of the Christchurch SPACPAC team (sPacifically PACific) which facilitates six events in Christchurch for the Canterbury secondary school Pasifika and wider community. I am slowly working on a PhD which is focused on the implementation of a junior Samoan language group in a South Island context. Juxtaposed with this PhD project over the last four years has been the development of a multi-level, multi-lingual and cross-curricula project called Pasifika Studies. One of my goals is to work towards reducing the national inequity of accessibility to maintaining and developing Pasifika languages and using Pasifika cross-cultural critical thinking in secondary educational school contexts; especially in the South Island.

    Aneta Matagi

    Talofa lava, I am Aneta Matagi. I was a teacher in Samoa since 1997 until 2004 in one of our big high schools. I taught Samoan language and Maths in Years 9-11. In 2005, we left Samoa with my family, I had two girls at that time but now I have four altogether with my husband, when we received our permanent residency to live in New Zealand. We arrived in Christchurch on the 5 November 2005. I retrained at the University of Canterbury College of Education to get my Bachelor of Teaching and Learning degree in 2007 and graduated in 2009. I started teaching Samoan language from 2010 till 2018. I worked as a Language resource teacher at Linwood cluster. I have also been involved in Pasifika cultural groups in the Linwood cluster. At the end of 2018, I graduated from University of Canterbury to receive my Master of Education. In 2019, I am going to work full time at Riccarton High School teaching Pasifika Studies and English as an Additional Language. I like to support our Pasifika students and help them maintain their mother tongue language and their cultures.

    Finau Havea

    My name is Finau Kolotile Havea. I am married to ‘Atonio Vailangi Havea and we have four girls. Soana (18), Leilose (13), Kalolaine (10) and Elizabeth (8). I have been helping the Pacific students especially teaching Tongan Language at Riccarton High School since 2016. I also helped out through the Lea faka-Tonga cluster at the Talanoa Centre of the University of Canterbury at the same year. This year will be my fourth year helping Tongan students at Riccarton High School. In 2018 I have been working with two officers from the Ministry of Education in Christchurch under the Te Paeroa RTLB Programme and assessed some of the Tongan Students who have problems with their reading and writing ability. I have a Tongan Diploma of Teaching in Secondary School Programme. I also have a Level 4 Certificate in Training and Assessment from the Australia Pacific Technical College. I have been teaching in various Catholic Secondary School in Tonga for five years. Three years in Business College teaching Business English and Religous Education. My last two years of teaching in Tonga I was teaching in a Catholic Primary School. One of my goals in working with the Pacific Students especially the Tongan students is to make sure they are fluent bilingually. I want every Tongan student I teach to be fluent in reading and writing in Tongan as well as in English. One of my goal is to develop and understanding on students to appreciate their mother tongues language and culture as well.

    Sister Monika Mo'ale

    Malo e lelei! I am Kilinganoa Monika Mo’ale from Tonga. I have been supporting the Pacific students and especially teaching Tongan Language to Villa Maria College students since 2013. In 2014, I continued to help at the University of Canterbury with teaching and supporting students from other schools who were doing Tongan Language NCEA exams. In 2017, I completed the Transforming Practice in Language Teaching (TPLT) at Auckland University from July to November. This year, I have volunteered to support the Pasifika Studies class in Riccarton High School. I have been involved in running of the Pasifika Homework club in Hornby and promoting a Facebook page for the parents in our area since 2013. Last year, Hornby High School has taken the responsibility and it is still going well. My profession was teaching in the secondary school in Tonga for 22 years. I have an undergraduate degree in Sociology and Applied Psychology and a diploma in Community Development. I still help in our two Catholic Schools here in Christchurch, Villa Maria College and Saint Bernadettes School in Hornby. I am a Religious Sister of Mercy and my job as a Religious Worker has allowed me to carry out the jobs that I love, especially helping our Pasifika students.

    Zohar Marshall

    Tino e Tasi Preschool

    Tālofa, Mālō lava le soifua maua ma le lagi e mamā

    O ma’ua o Saul Luamanuvae-Su’a ma Zohar Marshall

    O lo’o ma galulue fa’atasi i le aoga amata a tino e tasi

    E fa’aauau le galuega a nai ona matua o Patricia Ah Fook ma Luamanuvae Su’a ua failagi.

    We have recently crossed over into the ECE sector to manage the family business running two Samoan Preschools across the South Island. This significant career change has opened our eyes to recognise just how little digital resources there are that speak to our tamaiti’s own identity, language and culture.

    Earlier this year, our preschools produced two Samoan language apps O Luga o le Motu and Tatou ō ile Maketi. The success of these apps demonstrated their significance in supporting effective teaching and learning for Pasifika learners.

    This opportunity will allow us to embark on an inquiry around the feasibility to produce another cross-platform digital resource that uses cultural content, sound and imagery in order to engage our Pasifika tamaiti. We will draw input from industry experts to help define to scope of the resource and test our ideas before we look to progress to the next stage. 

  • 2018

    2018 2018

    Michael Fenwick

    Kia Orana. My name is Michael Tearikimana Fenwick. I am an Academic Manager at Middle School West Auckland. My mother was born in Atiu, the Cook Islands, and my father was born in New Zealand. I have had wonderful opportunities in teaching, spending 16 years at International School in South Korea and Hong Kong. I have learned a lot about education abroad, and would like to investigate opportunities to empower our Pasifika youth with the tools to be contributors to our global society.

    In my opinion, positive schooling experiences begin with a positive psychology approach to teaching, learning and inclusion. Through this grant I want to investigate further a positive schooling approach that champions concepts such as “broaden and build” and using character strengths to build self-worth, belonging and family engagement through school. Hopefully, this research can help to provide a map our Pasifika families can use to build positive school stories, particularly those disenfranchised by the schooling system for whatever reason.

    Investigating the common character strengths we already uphold in our Pasifika cultures is an entry point to a conversation about what our areas of strength and areas of focus are. Getting alongside families in the community, building a common language of learning, providing authentic contexts for expression, and telling our stories is an exciting challenge. Developing lifelong learners in the Pasifika community is a signpost to success.

    Junior Si'ilata

    Talofa lava, my name is Junior Si’ilata and I am of Samoan, Tongan, and Fijian heritage. I am the Head of Pasifika at Fraser High School. My Father is from Neiafu, Savai’i and my Mother is from Vaigaga, Upolu in the beautiful islands of Samoa. I was born in New Zealand and raised in Otara, South Auckland. My motivation as a Pasifika educator is to inspire all Pacific Island students by sharing my experience, cultural knowledge and alofa as someone who once walked the same path.

    For my inquiry I am curious to find out why so many of our Pasifika students in High School are sometimes disconnected and unmotivated especially at senior levels. As a Group Tutor I have identified a growing trend that concerns me and it starts from Year 9. It is that student’s attitudes, attendance and general desire to achieve at the higher levels of NCEA decreases. We as Pasifika people value and place education as a priority and something that is of great importance, but the way things are going for some my students I can see many of them losing the vision and passion for learning.

    My project places my Pasifika learners at the centre for the inquiry and I firmly believe that it is absolutely paramount that our Pasifika families are engaged in their child’s learning and are active participants. My inquiry will be a platform for my students to feel safe in knowing that their voice is valued and that they are free to share their concerns, challenges, aspirations and ideas on how we as teachers, families and communities can better support them.

    Brenda Devery

    Bula Vinaka. I am Brenda Devery. I am a New Zealand born teacher of Fijian and European heritage. I am lucky enough that because of my Grandmother, I belong to a large Pasifika family descended from Tavewa Island in the Yasawas. I am Assistant Principal and help lead our Pasifika learners at Waverley Park School in Invercargill.

    Our families have expressed a ‘want’ to build on from our cultural group and grow in our awareness of what is important for our Pasifika learners. My project will focus on continuing to make connections and engage with our Pasifika families. It will help me to build and lead our teacher capability and understanding to create culturally responsive learning environments.

    I am passionate about setting high expectations for our Pasifika learners by providing alternative learning opportunities that acknowledge their culture and identities. Year 6 student quote “You have helped me a lot and encouraged me to join the Pasifika group. My sisters and I don’t know much about our culture and we really want to learn.” This is what inspires me!! 

    Sheela Rao, Esther Nagera, Lorna Williams, Ailini Mataliki Apete-McDonald, and Epi Peato

    Epi Peato

    Malo ni, koau ko Epi mai he tama motu ote Pahefika ko Tokelau. I am a mother of five children and I have been here at Essence of the Pacific ever since it opened and I’ve had the privilege to watch it grow and improve to what it is today. Relationship is the foundation to everything between community, teachers and whanau because they all connect to the child’s world, identity and culture. Relationship is what helps children grow physically, spiritually, mentally and socially and when you work with a great team of colleagues, the reciprocal relationship between us helps our tamariki to extend on their interest within a friendly and safe environment

    Our inquiry project that we are planning is on developing an authentic Pasifika lenses for effective equitable learning opportunity for Pasifika learners.

    This grant will enable us to research and find out what are authentic Pasifika lenses to move our and ensure they achieve success. It will also give us an opportunity to investigate if we need more lenses than the ones we already have for our Pasifika leaners?

    Sheela Rao

    Talofa lava, Kia orana, Fakaalofa atu, Talofa ni, Ni sa bula, Mālō e lelei, Tena koe, Namaste and warm Pasifika greetings.

    My Name is Sheela Rao and I am the head teacher of Essence of the Pacific Early Learning Centre in Rotorua. I was born and raised In India and migrated to New Zealand in 2002.
    I am passionate about teaching Pasifika children and finding ways to make them 21st century learners.

    Esther Nagera

    Nissa bula Vinaka!

    My name is Esther Nagera, originally from Fiji. I have been teaching for 20 years in Fiji at Primary and Intermediate level. I am a qualified teacher with a Diploma in Teaching from Fiji. The Rotorua Pacific Island Development trust invited me to work at our ECE when it opened last year. I started working here and I loved the environment, teachers and especially teaching our own Pasifika children. My passion is to be with the children and to build a strong foundation for our own Pasifika children. 

    Lorna Williams

    Tena koe, Talofa lava, Fakaolola atu, Talota ni, Kia orana, Nisa Bula, Malo e lelei, and Warm Pasifika greetings. Ko lorna Williams toku injoa, Ko Te Ararwa te waka, ko Ngati Whakaea te hapu, ko Rotorua ahau.

    I am a qualified Early Childhood teacher and work at Essence of the Pacific Early Learning Centre. I am passionate about our Pasifika tamariki and their whanau. It has been a great pleasure working alongside our Pasifika teachers, learning their mother tongue through waiata, stories and cultural traditions.

    Ailini Mataliki Apete-McDonald

    Malo ni!

    My name is Ailini Mataliki Apete-McDonald. In 2016 I graduated with a Diploma in Early Childhood Education from Toi Oho Mai Institute of Technology. I am a descendant of Tokelau and was born and raised here in Rotorua. I am passionate about children learning through holistic development. Creative arts are an area am also passionate about, especially expressive story telling. We have many children who, through singing, dance and artistic expression find pure enjoyment. I am excited to be working alongside my colleague Epi and the Essence team in sharing our Tokelau culture with children and the wider community.

  • 2017

    2017 2017

    Ian Tairea

    Kia orana, my name is Ian Tairea. I'm a computer teacher and head of the computing department at Freyberg High School in Palmerston North.
    I am half Cook island, with my Father being born in Mauke, and half NZ European, with my mother being born in Raetihi, NZ. I was born and raised in New Zealand and have also spent some time in Australia.

    I am passionate about teaching Pasifika youth how to use technology to build things, be creative, express themselves and learn about anything that they are interested in.

    My inquiry project is based around equipping Pasifika youth with video recording equipment and teaching them the technical and theoretical skills required to tell a compelling story through film.
    Story and song was traditionally how knowledge and wisdom was passed down through the generations, but this has been lost to some degree in the modern world. My hope is that by equipping Pasifika youth with modern forms of storytelling, they can then turn their eye to the stories important to them, and can share them with their friends, families, and communities in a format that can reach the world and be preserved forever .

    I believe Pasifika youth are very creative and have a unique perspective and voice, so I'm excited to see what stories they deem worth telling.

    Francoise Heenan

    Talofa lava, Kia orana, Fakaalofa atu, Talofa ni, Ni sa bula, Mālō e lelei, Tēnā koe and warm Pasifika greetings. My name is Francoise Heenan and I am the Assistant Principal in charge of pastoral care at Villa Maria College.Since I started working at Villa over 14 years ago I have always been involved in working with our Pasifika students and their families. I am currently the lead Pasifika teacher for the College.

    In 2016 I helped start a mentoring programme for our Pasifika students. The main aim of this was to track student’s performance and help identify and decrease any barriers they had to learning. There was also involvement with their parents and the wider community, through information and performance evenings held at school.

    This grant will allow me to continue to focus on the Pasifika mentoring project. It will allow time and professional development for the mentor teachers to work with the students. The second project will focus on identity and language. Currently, not all students are at a level where they can take Level 1 Samoan, and the students would like to have a targeted homework club that runs after school at Villa Maria, where they can learn the basics of Samoan language, for example how to count, and common phrases. We have members of the community happy to help with this initiative.

    Tauai Salelea-Manson

    Kia ora and Talofa lava, I am Tauai Salelea-Manson. I am a mother of five boys all in their teenage years. I came to New Zealand in the late 80’s.

    I am a very passionate individual and dedicated in maintaining my Samoan language and identity I have been a bilingual teacher for seventeen years. My favourite year level is the New Entrant Year One. I believe this is a crucial age to build and nourish young people to be the best they can in keeping their identity alive for future generations. I believe to build a solid house, the foundation has to be solid and well rooted to withstand the weather and last for years.

    Ou te talitonu a mautu ona tapue le olaga aoaoina o alo ma fanau ao iti, o isi laasaga e mulimuli mai o le a faigofie tele lea.

    Soifua ma ia manuia

    For this project, I would like to support not only Mua i Malae students in Maths but would also like to extend this to Pasifika students in the mainstream and wider school system. For this project my focus will be developing the use of Samoan and other Pasifika Language to support students in Mathematics.

    I feel for students to be able to achieve to their full potential, they are best equipped with maths tools they can identify with. Therefore, I would like to create and develop maths resources that have Pasifika themes, with a particular focus on Samoa. These can then be used by teachers both in Samoan bilingual units such as Mua i Malae, but also teachers who are not Samoan but teach Samoan students. To name a few examples of a maths resource I would be to develop, are activities based on Siapo, planting taro in Samoa, using authentic maths stories/word problems based around the Samoan and other Pasifika cultures.

    Kourtney Saulala and Rosie Fakatava

    Malo e lelei, Talofa lava, and Kia orana. We are the faiako at Rural Scholars Early Learning Centre, Rosie Fakatava and Kourtney Saulala. Both teachers are highly invested and passionate about Pasifika Education, both marrying their Tongan husbands in 2017. Both palangi faiako are learning and experiencing new Pasifika concepts, language and cultural practices daily, and sharing their growing knowledge with the Rural Scholars community.

    Our vision is to design a unique and culturally responsive performance stage for our learning environment. It will encapsulate the patterns and significant symbols of Samoan, Tongan, Cook Island and Fijian cultures to create a meaningful and beautiful space. The idea of this stage is to inspire our language and cultural learning and knowledge, creating a special space for this learning to occur which brings to life the culture. The space would be used to perform and engage with our community's cultures, inviting families or groups to come in and share their talents with our tamariki. The children will also use this space as an opportunity to share their own learning with whanau and the community, singing, dancing, re-enacting and displaying our cultural awareness and pride of community spirit.

    Read here about our Pasifika journey and how it has evolved as we have challenged ourselves to continue striving to engage our tamaiti, ‘aiga and community to be enriched by the Pasifika cultures:

    Rural Scholars - Pasifika Education Grant Report

  • 2016

    2016 2016


    Paloma Samu


    Talofa lava and Fakaalofa lahi atu. My name is Paloma Samu, and I am a New Zealand born Samoan-Niuean from Wellington. I am a qualified and registered teacher with a Bachelor of Education and a Diploma of Teaching (ECE), and have been teaching for 15 years in both the primary and early childhood sectors.

    My passion in teaching has mostly been within early childhood where I have spent the last 12 years working in kindergartens and an early childcare centre where I was a Head Teacher for four years.

    I have been a Visiting Teacher for Bright Futures Home-based Childcare and Learning since 2010, in Napier, Hastings, and Flaxmere. This is a role that I am thoroughly enjoying and finding myself not only in a teaching position, but also a learning one, where I work day to day supporting and mentoring our Educarers to ensure a safe, happy, challenging, and rewarding learning journey for our children and families.

    Marieta Enticott

    Talofa lava and kia ora koutou. My name is Marieta Enticott, and I was born and educated in Samoa before moving to New Zealand in 1974. In 1980 I became very involved with Playcentre for 10 years with my three children, and that was when my passion in teaching early childhood was ignited.

    I have a Bachelor of Teaching (ECE) and I am a fully registered teacher. I have been teaching for 25 years (15 of those years in a position of responsibility — supervisor/team leader in early childhood education and care centres, and coordinator of a parenting programme with a high focus on early childhood education.)

    Currently I am a Visiting Teacher for Bright Futures Home Based Care and Learning Service in Waipukurau, which is under the umbrella of Napier Family Centre.

    The focus of our research project is on transition to school for Pasifika children in our home-based care and learning service in Flaxmere, Hastings. Our aim is to work collaboratively in partnership with educarers, children, parents/guardian, and families/aiga to explore and to establish a process for transitioning to school that will be a positive and a happy experience for all concern. The process will be guided by the principles and strands of Te Whāriki, our Early Childhood curriculum.

    We will also be working with our service provider, Napier Family Centre, as well as relevant local agencies and services to ensure the process and outcomes are community driven.

    The funds from this grant will be used for consultation fono/talanoa (meetings), resources such as readings/books, equipment, travel and Visiting Teachers relief time.


    Amataina aoga mo tamaiti Samoa — Starting school for Samoan children in homebased care and learning (PDF, 634.8KB)


    Mamaitaloa Sagapolutele

    My name is Mamaitaloa Sagapolutele. I am a teacher in the Samoan Bilingual unit at Rowley Avenue School. I have taught at this school for more than 10 years, and during this time I have seen the impact technology has had on the children that have come through my class.

    Due to my class being a Samoan bilingual class, it is important for me to think outside of the box to be able to engage the students in a way that will achieve success. From what I have researched, children benefit from learning in a modern learning environment, which means having lots of resources to help them be an independent learner.

    This grant is going towards professional development for me so that I can learn how to use our modern learning environment to its full potential. I am going to take full advantage of this opportunity to learn many skills that can further my knowledge as technology is going to be an important factor in our children's learning. I am hoping that I can find a way to use e-learning as a tool for teaching and learning in our Samoan bilingual class. I am wanting to be able to merge both the Samoan world and the technological world together for our Samoan children to better their learning for now and the future.

    O le avanoa tāua lenei o le a mafai ai ona tele le fesoasoani e fa’amatala ‘oto’otoina ai le aogā o le malamalama fa’atekonolosi i le a’oa’oina o le Gagana Samoa. O le a iai fo’i le avanoa e fesoasoani ai i isi faiaoga pasefika mo le fa’alauteleina o le a’oa’oina o le Gagana Samoa i Aotearoa. Faafetai tele CORE education mo lenei avanoa fa’a’auro.

    Niulesā Anthony Faitaua

    Talofa lava. My name is Niulesā Anthony Faitaua, and my role as Principal at Rowley Avenue School is to create a safe, happy, and inclusive environment with an overall focus of raising student achievement, especially amongst Māori and Pasifika learners. We are a Google Apps for Education school, and part of our e­learning strategic plan is to empower our Samoan students in the Samoan Bilingual class using Chromebooks to support their learning.

    One of my own professional inquiries is to find out how technology can help raise Pasifika student achievement, and engage Pasifika parents, families, and communities. Using technology to support learning in the classroom is important, but the essential value behind this idea is the opportunity to allow our Samoan students to enhance both English and Samoan language through creative and innovative ways. We want to grow student agency and leadership opportunities for our Samoan students to share their learning with their peers, parents, families, and community.

    There has been little research around my inquiry, and this grant will enable my colleague Mamaitaloa Sagapolutele and me to find out some answers— or more questions — around the inquiry. This grant will offer Mamaitaloa the opportunity to be released from classroom teaching to work closely with me on unpacking new findings, new data, experience, and knowledge, so we can continue to develop our inquiry to share with other teachers in similar situations, especially our Samoan parents, families, and community.

    Toleafoa Avauli Peter Setefano

    I am Toleafoa Avauli Peter Setefano, a New Zealand-born Samoan/Tongan teacher. My villages are Vailuutai/Salani, in Samoa, and Ma'ufanga, in Tonga. I worked many years for the Inland Revenue Department before gaining a Bachelor of Education in 2004. My approach to teaching is based on the tautua model of service. O le ala ile Pule o le tautua 'Service is the pathway to leadership'.

    I am committed to using the oral traditions of Samoa as a foundation for accelerating the oral language skills of the Pacific students at Holy Family School by making authentic connections between traditional story telling and current pedagogy. I believe that the best teacher to stand in front of Pacific students is the best teacher. My personal journey as a New Zealand-born Samoan orator and high chief helps me become more in-sync with my own identity and culture. I have a deep empathy for the experiences that a lot of the New Zealand-born Pacific Island students are facing today. I want to use this information to advantage, and strive for better outcomes for my students.

    I am married and have three children under the age of thirteen. I am grounded in my Catholic faith and a true local of Cannons Creek.

    Faafetai tele lava mo le avanoa faaauro.

    Twitter - @PeterSetefano

    Chris Theobald

    I am Chris Theobald. I’m a first-time principal at Holy Family School in Cannons Creek, Porirua. Having completed my Masters of Education in 2012 with a focus on Pasifika Education, I now apply this knowledge in a strongly Pasifika setting. Holy Family School has 82% of its students drawn from Pasifika communities (in addition to 8% Māori and 6% Burmese refugee students).

    I believe in the true power of education in breaking down barriers and broadening horizons for young Pasifika students. While education must be future focused, there is also a need for a real and deep connection to the identity and culture of each student. A bespoke made education is being designed and created by the staff at Holy Family in order to meet this need.

    With my wife working as an emergency nurse and three young children, it tends to lead to a crazy, but fun, home!

    Twitter - @the0bald

    Gina Lefaoseu

    I am Gina Lefaoseu. I am a New Zealand-born teacher of Cook Island and Italian heritage. Having had various roles within the school over a number of years has enabled me to gain a wide perspective on the needs of a diverse population base of students to enable accelerated learning. I like to think critically about the delineation between adapting the curriculum to meet student needs and ensuring students are ready for their next learning step.

    Having a husband of Samoan descent and three teenage daughters ensures that I am in touch with the needs of the growing diversity of cultural heritages and the implications for teachers of this change in student population.

    Twitter - @GinaLefaoseu


    Ana Maile Tui

    Malo e lelei. My name is Ana Maile Tui. I am a year 7 and 8 teacher, based in Auckland, New Zealand.

    I am Tongan, having migrated to New Zealand in 1988. I have a family of four: two girls and two boys.

    I attended my primary and secondary schooling in Tonga. I went through to training college in Tonga. In 1997 I went back to Auckland College of Education to re-train and gained a BEd (Teaching). In 2005, I got DipTESSOL through Auckland University. I am currently doing MindLab.

    I am passionate about supporting Pasifika whanau and communities as I have had through tough experiences in my learning journey here in New Zealand. I believe that, with support at school and home, most of our learners will achieve.


    Senia Samuelu Eastmure

    Talofa lava. My name is Senia Samuelu Eastmure. I am Samoan born in New Zealand. My Mum is from Taga, Savaii, and my Dad is of Kiwi decent. I am a Visual Arts and English Teacher at Palmerston North Boys' High School. Alongside my teaching subjects, I am the Lead Pasifika Support Teacher at our school.

    What inspires me the most in my teaching practice is seeing our Pasifika students achieve academic and cultural success as Pasifika, that is, as Tongan, Samoan, Niuean, Cook Island etc.

    My inquiry this year looks at strategies of leadership coaching and mentoring that empowers our Pasifika students to become leaders in social, cultural, and academic contexts. I have many aspirations for them to become leaders in whatever they work towards, especially when they take ownership of their schooling. Part of the process is also engaging their families and community to be apart of their learning journeys.

    As a result, I look forward to bridging the gap between our school and the Pasifika Community. It will unite and encourage our Pasifika communities to feel welcome to our schools.