In May 2014 Nu’ualofa Playgroup, an early childhood facility for Pacific Nations families, opened in Rowley Avenue Primary School in Christchurch. This is the story of how we, as two Palagi teachers, worked with a school and its local community to bring this collective vision to life.
Where it all began
Our journey began in 2014 when we were lucky enough to participate in a Pasifika Leadership Professional Learning programme offered by the Ministry of Education (MOE), through CORE Education and facilitated by Ruta McKenzie and Justine Mason. We went into this feeling completely out of our comfort zone yet knowing that we could be better supporting the Pasifika learners enrolled in our Home Based Childcare Service. Over eighteen months we attended a number of two-day fono and monthly network meetings with the Pasifika Leadership group. It’s been the best PLD we’ve ever experienced.
Through the Pasifika Leadership programme we also learnt of the opportunity to apply for CORE Education’s Pasifika Education Grant. We were fortunate to be awarded one of these. This provided us with funding for a supported inquiry that enabled us to tell our story through video of what we have learnt and developed as a result of our PLD. Our advisors for this project were Ruta Mckenzie and Keryn Davis.
The support, learning, camaraderie, and connections we made during this PLD, gave us the courage to stand strong for what we believed we could offer the Rowley community. In April 2014, after discovering the people in the MOE who were able to see and support our vision, we secured a participation contract with the MOE to provide a supported Pasifika Playgroup. In collaboration with the Principal at Rowley Avenue Primary School, we engaged Laiga Tomuli (a Samoan parent at the school), to facilitate and supervise the playgroup and work in the community to encourage aiga (families) to participate.