Bilingual Books for the young people of Tokelau, where they could see themselves and their language celebrated.

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The next generation of young Tokelau authors re-tells and shares the stories of their elders.

Growing up in a home full of stories, as told by their grandparents, aunties and uncles, a group of four talented young Tokelau authors were finally able to share these family stories with the world.  Heta Pulu, Frank Koro, Kaybrielle Penina Ineleo and Timena Pue are the next generation of young authors leading the way in keeping alive the stories of Tokelau.  They were part of a project, led by David Riley and Rev Iutana Pue, that created a series of 5 gana Tokelau bilingual language books with the focus on helping young people learn about their homeland and the language.  It was project driven by the young people for the young people of Tokelau.
The books were launched with a blessing at the Centre for Pacific Languages, with families, friends and the Tokelau community in attendance.  As part of the celebrations - an elder from each family was given the task to present the books to their authors with words of encouragement and wisdom.  The Centre for Pacific Languages gifted 50 copies of the books to the authors, their families and some of the Tokelau community members that attended the celebrations.
It has been an incredible journey of discovery for all involved, especially the authors and their families.  They would hear these stories shared by their elders many times, and to get them published is a first step to ensure that they can be re-told for many more generations to come.  Most importantly, they are the ones telling these stories, in their very own gagana Tokelau. There is also a sense of sadness that many more stories are being lost, as our elders move on, and the knowledge is lost.  They now have a sense of calling, a sense of purpose.  They now know that to keep this knowledge alive, they need to re-tell and share widely the stories of their elders.  Fehili ke te matua - Ask the elders.
Rev Iutana Pue blessing the books with the authors Heta Pulu, Kaybrielle Ineleo, Timena Pue and Frank Koro.
Rev Iutana Pue blessing the books with the authors Heta Pulu, Kaybrielle Ineleo, Timena Pue and Frank Koro.
Lapatakiga - a call to all fishermen.
The title of the project comes from a Tokelau lapakitaga. The lapatakiga is a call to fishermen. Elders especially hold the knowledge of how seasonal indicators should be interpreted and decide when a certain utua (fishing site) should be visited. The kāleva is considered a good sign for a prolific season of fishing. The lapatakiga was recorded by Tuia Ahelemo, Nukunonu, 1986.
Fishermen wake up, go to the place. Ask the elders. What kinds of birds are noisy. Katafa or lakia. Or the noisy kāleva. Kāleva, kāleva. Long-tailed kāleva. Is it black or grey. Leave it alone

Tautai ka ala ki te utua. Fehili atu ki te matua. Pe ni manu ā te vaiā. Pe ni katafa pe ni lakia. Manu ko kī ko kāleva. Kāleva, kāleva. Kāleva kāleva fulu loloa. E pe uli, e pe tea. Maua ka hafea

Songs and Stories of Tokelau - Edited by Allan Thomas, Ineleo Tuia, Judith Huntsman. Victoria University Press, 1990

The fastest canoe in Nukunonu-cover-Front-LR

About the Books.

Book 1: E Kamata i te Mulipapa by Frank Koro

Ko Fa’aitu kua fia fano lele oi fagota ma na taulelea i moana. Ko na magō, na feke, na tafolā … kae ko ia e hē mataku lele ai. I Tokelau, e iei lava te taimi e fetaui mo na mea uma. Ko te taimi hako nei tenei o Fa’aitu?

Faaitu can't wait to go fishing with the men in the open ocean. Sharks, octopus, whales … he's not afraid of them! But in Tokelau there's a right time for everything. Will this be Faaitu's time?

Book 2: Ko te Fagatuaga Hili ia i te Lalolagi! By Heta Pulu

Ko Mala ko he tino makeke i te fagatua, nae nofo i Fakaofo. Kae ko na tino o te fenua nae faikino ki ei. I te tahi aho, na hula ake ai he matuā magō. E mafai nei e Mala oi laveaki mai te nuku, i ana muna fagatua?

Mala is a great wrestler who lived in Fakaofo. But the people of the village are mean to him. One day a giant shark turns up. Can Mala save the village with his wrestling skills?

Book 3: Ko te Vaka Pito Haohaoa i Nukunonu by Kaybrielle Ineleo

I na tauhaga uma lava, e fai ai te tukugā vaka fakapitoa i Nukunonu. Ko Maleko e fofou ke fau e ia he vaka, ke fano i te tukuga tenei. Kae ko tana uō ia Tovia, e fofou ke alo e ia te vaka. Ei nā mua nei to la vaka?

Every year a special canoe race was held in Nukunonu. Maleko wants to build a canoe to enter the race. His friend Tovio wants to row the canoe. Will they win?

Book 4: Mālū i Loto o te Afā by Timena Pue

1 Fepuali, 1990. 8.30 afiafi. Fakaaliga Fakapitoa o te Tau. Ko te Afā ko Ofa, kua agai atu nei ki luga o Tokelau. He ā nei tā na tino ka fai? E fakahao nei vehea ki latou?

1 February, 1990. 8.30pm. Special Weather Bulletin. Cyclone Ofa is travelling towards Tokelau. What will the people do? How will they survive?

Book 5: Ni Toa Mai Fakaofo by Frank Koro

E vehea ona kavea koe ma toa mai Fakaofo? E hau te taimi, ka maua ai e Frank te tali o te fehili!

What does it take to be a winner from Fakaofo? Frank is going to find out!

Tokelau Book Launch 3

Final Thoughts from David Riley (Author) of Reading Warrior

I love this project because it's multi-generational: grandparents tell the stories, parents do the connecting, and the grandchildren write them. Family bonds are strengthened in the connecting and storytelling. Young people who are secure in who they are and in their families are more likely to be successful and creating books from their own elders' stories adds mana to them and honours grandparents in a special way.

Here's what Mareko, one of the grandparents said:

E manaia lele te ata ote vaka. (The picture of my canoe is very nice!) Exactly that's how I carried my canoe to the sea. Malo!”

Here’s a comment from Matt Ineleo, one of the parents:

Mareko is very excited and wondered if maybe one day his grandchildren will be reading this story when they get older. I replied, "Of course they will Dad." I've also messaged my cousin telling her to let her father know that he will be featuring in this story as well. She was so excited to tell him. Keep up the awesome work as a steward for our stories. I can't appreciate enough what you do to share these treasures and uplift our youth.

Mareko and his family drove up from Wellington for the book launch. This again shows how important these stories are to families and it’s amazing that we get to celebrate them in this way.

To purchase a copy of the books, click on the link -

"Mareko is very excited and wondered if maybe one day his grandchildren will be reading this story when they get older. I replied, "Of course they will Dad"


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