Show video transcript

Title slide: Being Tongan

Images of Tongan handicraft

Teacher, Manurewa High School, Auckland, facing camera

I think it's important that we embrace our culture. We have our Tongan values that relates to Christianity.

Teacher, Manurewa High School, Auckland, facing camera

Christian faith is a dominant Church in Tonga. But before missionaries arrived in Tonga we already had those values. We give and love and respect and all that. So, moving, migrating here to New Zealand it's important that we also embrace our cultural values as well. And there are some similarities with our neighbour islands as well such as Samoa, New Zealand Māori and yeah, so it's important that we keep our culture within us.

Teacher, Manurewa High School, Auckland, facing camera

It's important for me to connect with my culture because then I know who I am. I have an identity. I was born in New Zealand and every time I go back to Tonga I feel very grounded. I feel very grounded and attached to just, you know what's up and what's down and not just what's in the air. So that's why it's very close to me. It's a different feeling.

Teacher, Manurewa High School, Auckland, facing camera

I find a lot of our Tongan kids they feel that they’re at home again you know, instead of going to a foreign place such as coming up from home, from church, and coming to school. They put on this different mask on, and you know they're facing foreigners or other people. But when they go back home it's back to their roots. So to open up this Tongan class to have them experience the Polyfest and that and for us to come down to speak to them in Tongan and they hear that familiar voice. Oh yeah, that sounds like my dad, that sounds like my mom. Then they listen, you know. And when we speak in our own language there's just this sort of magic in it that makes it so, wherever you are you will still remember your roots as a Tongan.

Metui Telefoni, Year 13 Student, Rosmini College, Auckland, facing camera

It’s a lovely culture like, you meet a Tongan - they're very nice, quite open. And yeah. Just like our culture is quite open to like ideas and anything like that, like come to our school. We don't have many Tongans but our Tongan community is quite close, like close knit.

Mele Vaiangina, student, Onepoto Primary, Auckland, facing camera

I'm proud to be Tongan because I can speak Tongan. I’m a girl that loves to be Tongan and I love to teach people how to talk Tongan. And I have family that are Tongan.
I just love sharing my culture with everybody and helping people learn about my country. When we do celebrations for foods we mostly have pigs, Sapasui and all sorts of those and sometimes we take the celebration up to somewhere really special like the beach or go somewhere to Rainbow’s End and celebrate all sorts of things.

Francis Schaumkel, Academic Captain, Kelston Boys’ College, Auckland, facing camera

Well respect is a major, major thing in Tonga. it's actually called ‘faka'apa'apa’ in Tongan. Whenever I was brought up like we were always told if you have nothing good to say don't say anything. Well in churches and in schools and in just general public area for a Tongan to be respectful is like, you'll be like, sort of known and portrayed to the public as humble. And back in Tonga that would be a key like, personality trait that you'd have. Which I think all the Tongans carry in a sense.

This video is about being Tongan and discusses how Tongan values relate to Christianity, similarities between Tonga and other Pacific Islands, and also the importance of connecting with the Tongan culture to form self-identity. Embracing Tongan culture and language at school empowers many Tongan learners because they feel connected. Polyfest is an important platform for many Tongan learners to gain insights into their culture, embrace their language through dance and songs, and to be part of a familiar, home-like environment. Respect is valued highly in Tongan culture and it is a key trait that is expected of all Tongan people.

Relevant ethnicities
  • Tonga
Relevant turu
  • Turu 1

Reflections for individual teachers

As you watch this video, think about the Tongan learners in your classroom and reflect on your own self-identity.

  • Ask your Tongan learners if they see part of themselves reflected in the school environment and the classrooms as they walk through the school gates.
  • Think about how you can incorporate Tongan history, stories, and myths into your lessons and class activities in ways that are relevant to both your Tongan learners and non-Tongan learners in your class.
    How can you build understanding of Tongan values and embrace the faith, spirituality and families of your Tongan learners? How can this be shared with non-Tongan learners in your class?
  • How will you engage with Tongan parents and families in making decisions about their child's learning? Will it be a different approach to other island groups? If so, how?


Reflections for staff or departments

As you watch this video, as a staff member or member of a department team, think about how your school is meeting the needs of your Tongan learners.

  • How can your school build on the teachers’ knowledge of Tongan culture to meet the needs of your Tongan learners?
  • Reflect on how your school celebrates Tongan Language Week and how you are engaging Tongan parents, families and communities in your school activities.
  • How are you tracking and responding to staff efforts in their Tongan learning journeys and how will you ensure that staff value being part of the journey? Design an activity to find how many staff members can pronounce Tongan names and words properly and talk about their meanings. Involve Tongan parents, who are not afraid to critique, to assist and share their reflections.

Ask your staff to walk around the school and classroom environments to see if they can find and identify Tongan tapa, artifacts, displays of Tongan language and culture, and any other resources available that relate to Tongan learners at your school.