“I love the use of metaphors and real stories. It helps me to connect with others cultures and different views”.
This comment came from a participant involved in the Pasifika Leadership Programme currently being delivered in the Christchurch. The programme is underpinned by the following metaphor:
Ia su’i tonu le mata o le niu
Pierce the correct eye of the coconut
To go about an undertaking in the proper way.
This metaphor was chosen as the foundation for this programme as it portrays the significance of the coconut tree, and how each part of the tree continues to perform a significant role throughout its life.
The use of the ‘niu’ metaphor is a universal icon for Pasifika peoples, referring to the coconut tree and the coconut itself. Niu means coconut. It is often referred to as ‘the tree of life’ due to its ability to produce water, nourishing food, and materials used for everyday life. The coconut tree has sustained many communities when all other crops have failed. ‘Ia su’i tonu le mata o le niu’ means to go about an undertaking in the proper way. The proverb describes the notion of leadership — leading in the right way.
The diagram above connects understandings of the multiple layers and uses of the niu leaves with the multiple leadership roles and positions in an ECE community. The Pasifika leadership programme is concerned with ‘feeding and nourishing the leaves’ in order for the tree to bear fruit. There are 3 layers of leaves; these depict the layers of the roles of managers, head teachers, and emerging leaders within the early childhood context. Another layer is the family, fanau, and wider community including agencies such as ERO, Ministry of Education, and the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs. The children are the fruits of the tree that are nurtured, nourished, and protected by the other components of the tree.