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Pasifika Community Fono

Aniseto Paselio

God has blessed 2023 with many opportunities this year. As we passed the halfway point, we took a big step in having our Pasifika cultural heritage thrive within our school community – making Sancta Maria College a school environment where Pasifika nationalities are welcomed, involved and at peace.

On Wednesday evening, 31 May 2023, we held a fono (family meeting) with the help of teachers and with the support of the Senior Leadership Team (SLT) involving our principal, Ms. Moore and deputy principals, Ms. Sullivan, Ms. Kilpatrick, Mr. Bacon, and Mr. Green. The evening gave us an opportunity to provide more information to families about the new Pasifika classroom (Le Va), and to provide parents and students the chance to say what was on their minds; their thoughts about everyday learning and co-curricular activities in Sancta Maria College, and possible ways on how to improve learning. The evening also gave families a chance to know a little more about the NCEA system.

To start the fono off, we had our MCs introduce themselves; Marina Jones and Year 12 student, Jonarren Ngan Woo-Pulevaka. After they introduced themselves, our Samoan group performed a Samoan item called the ‘sasa’, in support of Samoan Language week. Shortly after, we invited guests to have dinner supplied by the college and served by the Year 11, 12 and 13 students who managed the evenings’ activities.

Afterwards, the families were split into two groups – half of the families went to a presentation set up by the NZQA Pasfika team that came to talk about how NCEA operated. The remaining families stayed in the main hall generating ideas to the questions provided, with the student helpers.

When the activities wrapped up, there was a further opportunity for the students, parents and homeroom teacher of the Le Va class to speak.  Kayla Jones, Frank Teiwaki, Aita Ah Wa, Ariana Mehau-Lave, and Togitoto Magele Rees, with their homeroom teacher, Mr. Rimamate, and the parents of Marina Jones and Kayla Jones (Etta and Chris Jones), shared how they felt about the new classroom.  All had one thing in common – that they were all uneasy about the idea of being in an all-Pasifika classroom at first, then they started to adapt and realise that they succeeded more together than individually.

After that we had our guest speakers, who were our 2020 Head Boy, Tristan Tualagi and our 2018 Head Girl and Cultural Prefect, Helen Pahulu, talk about their times in Sancta Maria College – how they had to adapt to a new environment and how that adaptation has shaped them to where they are now.

To finish off the night, a Year 11 student, Tevita Koloamatangi said a prayer in Tongan, with a Year 12 student, PJ Afamasaga leading the singing a Samoan song to bring our night to a close. I would like to thank all those families who attended our fono and to the staff that helped and supported us throughout the whole family meeting.  The feeling of support and encouragement to strive forth, to be the best students we can be, from teachers, really gave us confidence to step forth and snatch any opportunities that appear before us. Once again, thank you.