Protecting cultural principles and values is at the heart of a new book of Tongan nursery rhymes and poems launched at AUT South Campus on 31 October 2015.
Led by AUT Senior Lecturer in education Dr Linita Manu’atu, The Book of Nursery Rhymes and Poems is a culmination of the work of more than 40 authors from Critiquing Pasifika Education @ the University Co-ordinating Committee (CCC) and the Tongan ECE Teachers Association.
Dr Manu’atu says the book isa response to a lack of good resources for teaching Tongan language and culture in New Zealand. “As migrants in Aotearoa, we need to build a neighbourhood where our languages, traditions and cultural practices will continue to inspire the next generation.”
“Good teaching resources are central to understanding and protecting the cultural meanings of the language.
“The foundation of a child’s education goes beyond early childhood. We believe that raising our children in New Zealand and, what it means to be a good citizen of this society ought to be informed by the Spirit, the essence of our Tongan, Samoan, Cook Islands, Niue and Māori languages and cultures,” she says.
“Reading to our children nursery rhymes and poems that are written from the heart is our way of teaching our knowledge of spiritual values and beliefs.”
The Book of Nursery Rhymes and Poems also features works written in English, Māori, Cook Islands Māori, Niuean and Samoan, with contributions from many AUT lecturers, childhood students, and AUT alumni.
AUT alumni Rose Penn says contributing to the book allowed her to go back and reconnect with her Samoan childhood. “The freedom I received in participating in this book helped me to learn deeper about what it means to be a Samoan woman in New Zealand.”
The book cover was also specially illustrated by AUT alumni, Dr Talita Kiume Toluta’u, the first Pacific woman in the world to achieve a PhD in graphic design through practice led thesis.
Dr Manu’atu hopes the book would be a much valued teaching resource used and applied by Tongan and Pacific teachers across New Zealand.
“But ultimately, the book is koloa (taonga) for all ages with the intention to enrich our contribution to the education of our children, their parents, adults, caregivers and educators,” she says.