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What is the best "communication tool" to engage with Pasifika parents?

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Started by Aiono Manu Faaea-Semeatu 08 Apr 2014 12:39am () Replies (17)

I have a friend who has recently been co-opted as a Board of Trustees member in a local high school.

The school has asked him, as a Pasifika person, what the best "communication tool" to engage with Pasifika parents is.  The school struggles to engage with the parent community of their Pasifika learners.  The school is willing to try to engage with the parent community but want results as soon as possible.  

What advice would you give the school to address their desire for the best communication tool?


  • Phoebe Davis (View all users posts) 08 Apr 2014 8:15am ()


    I would ask the parents - survey maybe. Ask the Pasifika students. What will be the best way to communicate with you and your whānau? 

    No one way is going to suit everyone, so maybe a range of ways, taken from Pasifika parents and students.

    Ngā mihi Phebs

  • Vivita Rabo (View all users posts) 04 Nov 2014 1:54pm ()

    Bula vinaka everyone, I just joined the group and would like to share my thoughts on this from a Teacher of the Deaf perspective at a mainstream high school here in Auckland. We asked our Pasifika parents/families communities about appropriate ways to get in touch with them so that they have a voice and more actively involved/supported with their child's learning. Below are some of the responses:

    * Face to face meetings, evenings, fun day and this excludes report day (quote: ...."Pasifika way, we love get-togethers)  * School recognising my child through success, involvement extra curriculum activities (polyfest).

    In our school, we encourage students to get involved in activities that focus on the four cornerstones that the school values - academic, cultural, sports and leadership as part of our balanced education. In relation to this discussion, our cultural activities include cultural performances, cultural displays (art), deaf culture (NZSL classes that are taught by a deaf tutor and led by one of Y10 deaf student).

    We're also having a Maori/Pasifika family evening coming up this term to celebrate the success of our Maori/Pasifika students.


  • Anaru White (View all users posts) 05 Nov 2014 10:30am ()

    Bula vinaka Vivita

    Welcome to this rōpū and thanks for sharing your story. I like how you engage with your Pasifika parents and families and capture your their voice. 

    Celebrate the success of your students and what you are doing.


  • Leigh Hynes (View all users posts) 08 Apr 2014 8:20am ()

    Good question, Manu.  I was in a school last week where the same question was raised.  I thought Google would be able to translate their newsletters into their first language but Samoan does not feature in the possible language choices.  We might have to get onto Google to sort it out.


  • Aiono Manu Faaea-Semeatu (View all users posts) 09 Apr 2014 7:43pm ()

    Malo lava Leigh,

    Newsletter translations - yes I remember doing Gagana Samoa translations of newsletters at my old school.

    Another possibility would be to try to establish rapport with key parents from the community to assist with the translation of the newsletters - spread the load and also encourage them to use their heritage language skills to contribute to the school community.

  • Alana Madgwick (View all users posts) 08 Apr 2014 11:38am ()

    Talofa lava,


    My friend from down in the deep south- Tufulasi Taleni promotes 4 things for connecting with Pasifika communities:

    1. Cultural celebrations

    2. Principal address- vision for Pasifika families

    3. Awards- achievement successes

    4. Food - Quality

    He says when you put all four of those things together- then communities engage.



  • Aiono Manu Faaea-Semeatu (View all users posts) 09 Apr 2014 7:36pm ()

    Thanks Alana :-)

    It would be great to hear from people about some specific examples that tie in with the four points from our friend Tufulasi Taleni from UCPlus.  I wonder how schools with emerging populations of Pasifika families explore these options?  I am coming across a number of schools who previously had no Pasifika populations in their schools - but now the school is seeing a few Pasifika families moving into the local areas and they want to be able to provide opportunities for Pasifika communities to engage with the school.

    Another thing to ask would be - what about those Pasifika families that don't speak their heritage languages at home because English is their first language - but they are still not engaging with the school?

    I can't help but think about - the range of diversities of Pasifika families in Aotearoa - not just those with fluency in their mother tongues - but those families who are Pasifika but are 2nd - 5th generation Pasifika in Aotearoa.  How would you communicate with them?

  • Phoebe Davis (View all users posts) 08 Apr 2014 11:44am ()

    Talofa Alana

    Some really great opions here.

    We need to use these events to make time to get pasifika whānau engaged with the learning of their children too. This gets many of them thru the door.


    Thanks for sharing.



  • Nane (View all users posts) 08 Apr 2014 2:12pm ()

    Kia orana everyone,

    few suggestions below:

    Face to face - if there are high numbers of Pasifika students in the school it might be beneficial to encourage meeting with the separate Pasifika groups. I found this worked really well in the school I worked in. Each group had a different cultrual lens that they shared with the school. 

    Newsletters in the different languages

    Take you messages to the community rather than the other way round. Ask for an invitation to attend the different Pasifika community meetings

    Target the key Pasifika leaders of each community/Pasifika ethnic group with the aim of utilising their connections to bring Pasifika peoples into the school.

    If it’s a catholic school work with the pastor to bring the community to the school

    Survey those households that have computers and can use emails or other tool in order to communicate that way.

    Be Purposeful. Make it a school wide expectation. Incorporate how to engage/build learning partnerships with Pasifika families and the community into the school’s strategic plan. Outline a clear action plan on what that should ‘look like’ for students, teachers, leadership team and BoT.  

    Ia manuia,



  • Fiona Matapo (View all users posts) 09 Apr 2014 3:56pm ()

    Kia orana koutou

    There have been some wonderful replies to this question. Thanks everyone for sharing. I fully support the ideas that have been suggested. 

    Just one comment around google translating documents - it took a long time for them to develop the tool for translating Māori and some would say that the standard is not great. Perhaps we should lobby for our Pasifika languages. 

    Kai runga i te mihi maioha

  • Aiono Manu Faaea-Semeatu (View all users posts) 09 Apr 2014 7:39pm ()

    Meitaki ma'ata Fiona.

    I wonder if people would be interested in seeing Pasifika languages in Google Translate?

    It would need to take some real hard work to ensure that we avoid the following!!


  • Pata (View all users posts) 09 Apr 2014 4:45pm ()

    Talofa Lava to you all.

    I am a teacher in South Auckland and currently at our school we are piloting an initiative where we have employed a teacher part time to visit the homes of our students. Our school is predominantly Pacifica and the teacher we have employed is well known in our community and is able to converse in Samoan. In collaboration with the teachers she discusses our assessments and goals for our children. Approaches at home are suggested and she meets with the parents and families at their homes or where ever they are comfortable meeting. In the mean time with this approach, Parents are appreciative of the time taken to meet with them and are able to support their childs learning further at home. Our school has put forward meetings for the different ethnic groups that hasnt brought many parents or families in. Meeting them where our Pacifika families are puts them at ease. This is an approach that we are trialling and as the year progresses I can tell you the impact it has had on my children's learning and parent involvement.

    Thank you for your time....


  • Aiono Manu Faaea-Semeatu (View all users posts) 09 Apr 2014 7:41pm ()

    Malo aupito Pata!

    Thanks for sharing the initiative that is being trialled in your school :-)

    Please be sure to keep us updated on your school's journey.

    It would be great to hear the challenges and successes that you will face Cool

  • Gabrielle Smyth (View all users posts) 05 Nov 2014 10:42am ()

    Our school (secondary, central Auck, 10% Pasifika) this year worked through the following steps and we are pleased with how it is going:

    1) Use Polyfest to make contacts with key parents who have good networks.

    2) Ask those parents for their ideas/thoughts on setting up a Pasifika parents evenings/fono. Set up a first evening where the emphasis was on the senior STUDENTS running it and gathering information, giving a voice to the parents. Ie NOT an "Information evening" where the teachers stood up and gave lots of info/ talked at the parents. Families invited to bring a plate to share and school provided as well. Format was:

    Prayer, welcome, panel of senior students introducing themselves and their goals for tertiary study and beyond. Parents then split into smaller groups where the senior students led a discussion/ asked for their feedback on a range of prompts (what could the school do to best help your daughter.... etc how would you like future fono to be run? where? how often etc)) Students acted as scribes and took notes as the discussion unfolded. Students also had a separate discussion group led by a senior students. Grace/ food then general mixing afterwards.

    3) Following term another fono held utilising some of the ideas gathered from the first one. Format for this one was:

    Prayer, welcome, Alumnae Pasifika student spoke about her life post school, Student Pasifika choir performed an item, grace, food. Then groups split off and led by teacher and senior student led discussion on exam /study tips, answered parents questions, had general discussions. Again, younger students had their own discussion groups led by a senior student.

    Feedback from parents and teachers was that this was a great format to get to know each better in less formal circumstances and we anticipate holding similar evenings perhaps once per term.

    Everyone agreed the key things were: food, student performance and/or in put, parent voice welcomed, not too formal.


  • Gabrielle Smyth (View all users posts) 05 Nov 2014 10:50am ()

    And I should add that we used all communication tools to get the word out.

    Notices in the general newsletter, email invite to parents, letter invite mailed to parents, key contact parents asked to spread the word through their networks, and for the first fono Deans phoned all parents in their year level.

    We felt it best to just get whoever we could to come along, make sure it was a productive evening and word would spread amongst the community and hopefully the evening would grow/evolve over time. We did worry that we might have more staff than parents at the first one, but were pleasantly surprised with a reasonable turnout. Second fono had more parents so hopefully our predictions are panning out!

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