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Sāmoan Language Week — Vaiaso o le Gagana Sāmoa

May 20th, 2020 By Samuel Beyer

The Sāmoan language is the third most commonly spoken language in New Zealand, immediately following English and te reo Māori.

Vaiaso o le Gagana Sāmoa: Sāmoan Language Week (24 to 30 May 2020) is a great opportunity to think about how you can keep Sāmoan identity, culture and language 'alive to thrive' in your library and across your school.

Samoa tile pavement artwork
Image by Dean Moriarty. Pixabay. License to use.

This year's theme

The theme for this year is:

Tapena sou ōso mo lau malaga.
Prepare yourself a gift for your travels.

Proudly supported by the Ministry for Pacific Peoples, Vaiaso o le Gagana Sāmoa is a great opportunity for all New Zealanders to celebrate Sāmoan culture and language. The Ministry provides a range of supporting materials and resources to help celebrate Sāmoan Language Week, including posters and Gagana Sāmoa salutations:

Celebrate Sāmoan culture and language in your school

Here are some ideas and resources to help you celebrate.


  • Set up a display of all the books and resources you currently have about Samoa.
  • Display the proverbs for this year in your library or classroom — or use them as interesting starters for writing poetry or prose, or creating posters.
  • Explore the NZ Pacific Picture Book Collection to find out about great picture books that are supported with curriculum activities.
  • Look for local events, including at public libraries, that your students can get involved in. Or host an event yourself!
  • Find a speaker of Gagana Sāmoa to come and read to your students so they can hear and enjoy what the language sounds like.

A wealth of digital resources to support Gagana Sāmoa

There are many digital resources that you can use in your school throughout Sāmoan Language Week and beyond. Here are some you might find useful.

From Services to Schools and the National Library

  • Samoa in Topic Explorer — from the fascinating history of Sāmoan tatau (tattoo) and siva (dance) to rappers Dei Hamo and King Kapisi, explore these multimedia resources that feature Samoa’s extraordinary culture and its inextricable links with New Zealand.
  • Samoa in Many Answers – explore resources about Samoa, including daily life, geography, and the strong connections between New Zealand and Samoa.
  • DigitalNZ content about Samoa — search for ‘Samoa’ and you can create your own set of photos, articles, audio, etc. Students can create their own sets as well. These could be used for a variety of teaching and learning activities — from looking at the history of Samoa to getting students to create digital stories about aspects of Sāmoan language or culture.
  • Sāmoan newspapers in Papers Past — a great resource to explore Samoa’s past through primary sources. Use the title search to find these newspapers.

Our recent post on the Create Readers blog My New Zealand Story – reading history features 'Dawn Raid' by New Zealand Pasifika author Pauline (Vaeluaga) Smith. Set in 1976, it’s the story of 13-year-old Sofia as she navigates her mother’s Palagi world and her father’s Sāmoan world and witnesses the treatment of Pacific Island overstayers.

Watch Pauline (Vaeluaga) Smith present about her book 'Dawn Raid' (Vimeo, 22:57) for the 2019 Auckland Writers Festival Schools Programme.

Other digital resources

  • Fāgogo fables from Samoa — these are available in both English and Gagana Sāmoa text and audio forms.
  • Gagana Sāmoa Pasifika dual language books available through Literacy Online — these are available in both English and Gagana Sāmoa text and audio forms.
  • Pasifika Digital Legends on WickEd — digital picture books of legends from throughout the Pacific, including 'How Fire Came to Samoa' and 'The Magic Seashell'.
  • Samoa video in Auckland University of Technology's Pacific language video series — AUT's video series highlights the Pacific Islands Families (PIF) Study’s work in shaping resilient futures for Pacific communities in Aotearoa. The Samoa video will be released on 24 May to mark the start of Samoa Language Week 2020. Now in its 20th year, the PIF study follows more than 1,300 Pacific children born at Middlemore Hospital in the year 2000 and their parents, with a focus on health and wellbeing over key developmental stages.
  • Teaching and learning Gagana Sāmoa on TKI includes a series of dual language storybooks with accompanying teacher support materials.
  • The Coconet — explore a wealth of learning resources, from animated legends to cooking and songs from across the Pacific, including Samoa. There's also a round-up of Pasfika books to note.

Build an inclusive collection in your school and class libraries

Keep on building an inclusive collection — including books and other resources about Samoa or in Gagana Sāmoa.

Celebrate and keep Gagana Sāmoa thriving

So, Vaiaso o le Gagana Sāmoa: Sāmoan Language Week is a great way to celebrate the third most spoken language in Aotearoa New Zealand and the wider Sāmoan culture and heritage.

From fun activities during the week to increasing access to Sāmoan books and resources in your library long term, think about how you can contribute to keeping Gagana Sāmoa alive and thriving!

La soifua ma ia mauia.
Be well and prosper.

This blog post

This post was originally published on 26 May 2017 and has been updated to include new resources.

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