|This years Tongan Language Week / Uike Kātoanga’i ‘o e Lea Faka-Tonga ran from the 3rd to the 9th of September with vibrant celebrations at both Kidsfirst Niu and Kidsfirst Hoon Hay...|
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Our Tongan immersion early learning centre, Kidsfirst Niu, had a fantastic line up to embrace the week’s theme - Fakakoloa Aotearoa ‘aki ‘a e nofo 'a kainga - Enriching Aotearoa with our Family Values.
Monday was designated to dressing your best ‘Teunga Faka-Tonga’ to show Faka’apa’apa/respect. Children/fânau made traditional keikei (woven, ornamental waistband).
The value of Mamahi’i me’a/loyalty was Tuesday‘s theme with the creation of a beautiful family photo frame to take home. On Wednesday, Loto-tö/humility and generosity were expressed through a sports day filled with team games.
Maintaining good relationships/Tauhi vaha’a was celebrated with a shared lunch for whānau/kainga on Thursday. There was a coconut scraping demonstration and the ‘dish of the day’ was traditional Lu-sipi (taro leaves, corned beef or lamb, onion and coconut milk).
The week’s celebrations wrapped up on the Friday with Tongan dress, music and dance to celebrate OFA – love!
We asked Head Teacher, Stephanie Olliver how important the theme of enriching Aotearoa with Tongan family values was to the community at Kidsfirst Niu?
“My learning within the Tongan community is that 'ofa/love and whānau inextricably link to and support all other Tongan values like loyalty and respect.”
“Everything we do here we try to do with 'ofa/love and with kindness and passion.”
“What I really love about this community is that they are so generous with their time and knowledge and show a deep commitment to their children, family and the wider community,” says Stephanie.
Kidsfirst Hoon Hay currently have two children with Tongan parents, and also took the opportunity to acknowledge and embrace Tongan Language week.
Celebrations included reading books and learning lots of new words in the Tongan language, Tongan dress, listening and dancing to traditional songs, playing musical instruments and cooking kai to make a special feast of roast vegetables.
“A highlight was listening to Evelyn, grandmother of Oscar who has a Tongan husband and had recently visited Tonga,” says Teacher, Zdenka Reading.
“Evelyn came to kindergarten dressed in a traditional Tongan costume, similar to the one she wore at her own wedding and brought a beautiful tapa cloth to show the children.”
Kidsfirst Niu’s Stephanie concludes with, “the diversity across our network is one of our biggest assets, I love that every centre reflects the culture they are living in.”
“What I’ve also noticed since I’ve been here is the levels of curiosity and passion that I’m hearing from other centre’s who want to come to look, learn and know more and who want to be culturally responsive to their own tamariki, and that’s something I think Kidsfirst openly supports and embraces.”
KIDSFIRST KINDERGARTENS ARE A NOT FOR PROFIT ASSOCIATION THAT HAS DEVELOPED AND MAINTAINED KINDERGARTENS IN CHRISTCHURCH, CANTERBURY AND ON THE WEST COAST FOR OVER 100 YEARS - AS THE PLACE LOCAL KIDS COME TO LEARN, PLAY AND HAVE FUN.