The Tautua Gagana Samoa Language Programme Celebration Opens with an 'Ava Ceremony


The ‘ava ceremony, one of Samoa’s most important chiefly customs.  The ceremonial ‘ava drink holds deep cultural significance as it marks essential milestones in Samoan society and is a cherished formal tradition.

At the completion of the Tautua programme at St Peters College in Auckland, the 2023 Tautua Cohort” participating in the Tautua initiative, have been learning about the significance of the ‘ava ceremony in relation to who they are as tama Samoa, and so have taken on the responsibility and preparation of hosting this auspicious occasion.  This was be the first ‘ava ceremony ever held at St. Peter’s College. The 2023 Tautua cohort included Year 9,10,11 and 12 students at the college.

The young Samoan warriors, supported by their tutor, Leulua'iali'i Satuala, an alumnae of the school, with proud parents in attendance, led and performed this sacred 'ava ceremony to open the celebrations.  The occasion marked the completion of the 12 weeks Tautua programme for 2023 at St Peters College.

Tautua 1
According to Satuala, the 'programme has been running since 2015' and as an 'old boy' and a former Head Boy of St Peters College, he felt it was important to contribute back to his old school.  Especially with helping and supporting the students with learning the gagana Samoa and their identity as tama Samoa.  The programme is run for 2 hours after school and is largely supported by the school's Samoa parents community and leadership.
Satuala shared that having the support of the school's leadership, the Board of Trustees and mostly importantly the parents, have been instrumental in making this programme work.  The hard working Vika Fa'asavalu, the lead project manager for the Tautua programme, is grateful for all the support given and has dedicated her time to ensure that this programme is a success.

As the students performed the 'ava ceremony and shared their 'lauga' (oratory) in gagana Samoa, it was indeed a special occasion to witness for both the invited guests and their parents.  The confidence, the sense of belonging and the deep connection that comes with knowing who you are and where you come from can be heard in the voices and seen in the faces of the young Tautua warriors from St Peters College.  Satuala says 'that over the last 12 weeks' you can see the change in these students as they have grown from boys into young men, full of pride in knowing their language and culture.

It is also visible that this is a progamme that is strongly supported by the school's leadership with the attendance of the Headmaster Mr James Bently, the Associate Headmaster Mr Hayden Kingdon, Trustee members Mrs Emily Coffey Baron and Mr Micheal Alofa.  According to Mr Kingdon, the programme has enriched the learning experiences of the students and has strengthened the connection with the parent community of St Peters College.

In the same light, the presence of Pacific community leaders Sir Micheal Jones, Eroni Clarke and JR Pereira to name a few, in support of their children, who attended this programme, is a clear indication in the importance of having such programmes as part of a school's extra-curricular activities.

Meritiana Spandow and Crystal Fetalaiga from the Centre for Pacific Languages
Meritiana Spandow and Crystal Fetalaiga from the Centre for Pacific Languages

The Centre for Pacific Languages, congratulates the St Peters College 2023 Tautua Cohort.  It is indeed encouraging to see such programmes operating in schools and would encourage other parent school communities to engage with the school leadership to run similar Pacific language programmes.  Ron Viviani, the Interim CEO of the Centre for Pacific Languages, says that 'such programmes play an important role in strengthening language retention, intergenerational transmission and revitalisation efforts.  It adds value to learning experiences of the students, deepens the connection with the community and the enriches the life of the school.

Satuala says "that over the last 12 weeks you can see the change in these students as they have grown from boys into young men, full of pride in knowing their language and culture".


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It was a wonderful night where we found so much pride in the efforts of our sons! Our language must survive. Thank you so much for the continued support of this programme by the Centre for Pacific Languages! Fakaaue Lahi Ron, the work of the Centre is key & vital to all the work we do across different sectors in the wider community, in our schools & in our homes.

Fa’afetai tele lava Ron, to you the board and all your team at the Centre.


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