Cultural competency development for Te Tito Journalism Cadets Pasifika

Te Rito Journalism Cadets Pasifika get a taste of “Pale in the Fale” with Centre for Pacific Languages

Cultural competency development for the Te Riot Journalism Cadets Pasifika

As budding journalists, the Te Rito Journalism Cadets had questions such as

“How do we approach large Pacific community groups? How do we know who we should speak to for an interview? How do we approach a Pacific person of Tuvaluan ethnicity if I’m Niuean/Māori and don’t know anything about Tuvalu?  How do I know ‘who’s who‘ in the Pacific community? What if there’s hardly any Pacific people living in my region?"

When Ms Gesa Luamanu (Te Rito Pasifika Journalism Programme Manager) reached out to CPL, she was looking for a very specific set of knowledge to strengthen cultural competencies that would be valuable for Pasifika journalists to know, understand and put into practice.

The inaugural Te Rito cadets, made up of Māori and Pacific young people, had been on their programme for 6-months and had completed a range of workshops to introduce them to the world of journalism.  As part of their programme, there was a strong emphasis on what it means to be a Māori and/or Pacific journalist, including introducing them to te ao Māori (the Māori worldview).  Now that they were a few months into their programme, CPL were asked to run a Developing Pacific Cultural Competency workshop.

Cadets confided in Ms Luamanu that they didn’t yet feel confident enough to reach into Pacific communities, especially with so many Pacific ethnic-specific groups, and being relatively young (recent school graduates) they didn’t have experience in working with large multi-ethnic groups.  They wanted to know what the nuances and differences were between approaching a Niuean vs a Samoan vs a Tongan vs a Kiribati person or community.

And they wanted to know ‘who’s who’? Of all the Pacific leaders they could approach, who should they approach?  And how do they ensure that they get a balanced story if only interviewing one person from one ethnicity about “Pacific issues”?  And what should they do as young Pacific/Māori budding journalists when they were trying to tell a story?  What broader and ethnic-specific cultural considerations should they be aware of?

These were just some of the questions we needed to consider as we developed a bespoke Developing Pacific Cultural Competency workshop for the Te Rito Journalism Cadetship programme.  Thankfully, this is an area CPL excels in.

Cultural competency infers that one can be 100% competent in something, which is why CPL coined the title for our bespoke suite of programmes as Developing Cultural Competency, understanding that we are always on a learning journey because culture is so vast, and it evolves.  The way we do fa’aSamoa in NZ for example, has some nuances that are NZ specific because we might not have access to the same tools which are available back home in the Islands.

Our bespoke programmes focus on providing a high level introductory overview of Pasifika cultures (languages, values, cultural protocols) that would be expected in the sector or industry you work in, and by the end of day one, will hopefully inspire the learner to seek ongoing personal development in this area.

CPL takes pride in our workshops, as we work to combine the best of Pacific knowledge, epistemology (what is knowledge), and pedagogy (how we teach).  Simply put, we know how to teach our own knowledge, language, customs, protocols and ways of being and doing.

We pride ourselves on being able to respond to the hard questions and do so in a respectful and safe manner.  Our desire is that every single person leaves one of our workshops engaged, empowered, and emboldened to continue to increase their own Pacific knowledge and wisdom, and to apply this in a way that demonstrates and respects our Pacific values.

Papāli’i Pale Sauni (aka Pale in the Fale) is the brains behind the original Koloa cultural competency workshops. A well-known Pacific facilitator and MC, musician and all-round funny guy, Papāli’i began working with CPL and delivering workshops in 2016, under our previous name Pasifika Education Centre.

Now in 2022, in line with our rebrand to Centre for Pacific Languages, we have refreshed our workshops, and now offer customised content as part of our CPL brand of bespoke workshops “Developing Pacific Cultural Competency”.

Developing cultural competency workshop at Centre for Pacific Learning

Ms Luamanu laid the challenge, and CPL was able to create a 1-day workshop that focused on understanding the journey of Pasifika in Aotearoa, their continued contributions to New Zealand and its economy, and how to culturally and sensitively navigate Pasifika communities, families, and individuals about issues and topics by demonstrating how to create a safe environment for participants in a fun and engaging way that allowed the group of young cadets to experience learning that was meaningful to their career paths. Additionally, learning about Pasifika language pronunciation and being culturally sensitive when pronouncing names and places is vital to making meaningful connections and this was one of the highlights of the workshop.

We recognise that “being culturally competent” is an ongoing journey, so we’ve developed a range of tools and sessions that clients can select to meet their very specific needs, from firstly being aware of the need for cultural competency, to then learning basic greetings to doing a formal welcome for VIPs; from focusing on pronunciation to creating a thank you speech; from facilitating the design of a Pacific Strategy, to developing tools to enable, support and monitor implementation of your Strategy.  We create a safe space to talanoa (deeply discuss, ponder, consider and reflect upon) where there are no silly questions.  We want to answer the hard questions in a way that asks ALL participants to consider what biases we have, what worldviews and experiences we view the world from, what we can each personally do to better improve relations between people from different ethnic backgrounds, and most importantly, how we can each contribute to a thriving organisation and workplace that we are proud of and enjoy working for, because we feel valued and we value others.

In our Pacific languages, we refer to koloa (Tongan) or measina (Samoan); in English the simple translation is ‘treasure’.  But from our Pacific worldview, our ‘treasures’ are less physical treasures such as gold, silver and money etc, but rather, our koloa include ways of knowing, being and doing.  This includes our languages, cultural protocols, spirituality, songs, chants, proverbial sayings, our fanua (land) and how we care for and are connected to the land and the moana (ocean), and of course the concept of vā (relational spaces).

The Te Rito Journalism cadets have completed a 1-day workshop with CPL, and have booked in for Day 2 in the new year.

Developing Cultural Competency class learning

"CPL takes pride in our workshops, as we work to combine the best of Pacific knowledge, epistemology (what is knowledge), and pedagogy (how we teach)."


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