Hapara Workspace for Professional Learning

Those of you who know me will understand why this reflection is endorsing Hapara Workspace and how fabulous it is for leading professional learning. I have all my badges for Hapara and here is my Hapara Champion Trainer certificate to confirm that I have completed all three levels of training.

I love using Hapara Workspaces for learning and this year I added all our Newmarket School teachers as learners in Hapara Workspace. As part of my Champion Trainer Certification I built a workspace for teachers. However I did not build this from scratch. I took our 2018 PLG workspace that our ISL and I collaboratively created,  made a copy and then ensured that it was framed with Visible Learning Concepts in that all the goals and rubrics were clear and explicit for each section.

Our current workspace ensures that our Newmarket School teachers can learn from the In School Leaders (ISL) in our school and they can do so on their own time, without the need for face-to-face meetings or substitutes. Our workspace allows us to experiment with leading professional learning in our school. Each section is packed with resources including readings and videos to help explain the focus of each professional learning strategy. Each part has a landing page so that everything is one click away. Each part has an assignment that we ask teachers to do to help drive their own learning deeper. These have been framed using a SOLO Taxonomy rubric co-constructed with the ever fabulous Pam Hook.

For us as ISL and ASL in our school we can quickly pull up examples of our teachers professional learning and lessons that are active in the workspace.

Within our workspace, my favourite section for 2019 is our newest section. 

We asked our teachers to ‘To video teaching a targeted strategy which gives attention to student learning.’ and to share the link on Hapara. 

This part has been really exciting because by the end of term 2, all of our teachers had carried out videoing a mathematics lesson and nearly all had shared it on Hapara. My principal asked us how did we manage to get our teachers to do this. My response was, transparency using Hapara Workspace. The goals and the rubric were clear. Also our ISL expected it to happen and continually reinforced this during staff meetings and team meetings.

Our next steps for this is for each team to view team members videos and to give feedback. We also asked that each teacher reflect on the process.

I took many of the ideas from the Hapara trainer course and incorporated these into our workspace.

I have to give a shoutout here for our fabulous Senior Management Team at Newmarket School. They were the first to line up to complete their Champion Educator Certificates using Hapara for teaching and learning. They would never ask us to do something that they were not prepared to do themselves.

@ginnynz01 , myself and @newmarketschool

Also for our teachers at Newmarket School because just about all of them have completed the Hapara Champion Course. Just waiting on a few more then I will get a Hapara Grelfie, ‘Group Selfie’.

I also give a shout out to our ISL leaders @Nikki_From_NZ and @BelindaHitchman who lead professional learning in our school and were the first to get their maths lessons videoed and shared with their teams. Talk about Teacher Agents at Newmarket School. They make things happen. What a fabulous evidenced example of teachers preparing to share their learning with their peers and to give and receive feedback.

I wonder if I can push our teachers just a little further and see if they are willing to take up the Hapara Champion Scholar course. This second course focuses on pedagogy and looks deeply at learning from student perspective. This course also ensures that learning is really transparent for the learner with goals and forms of assessment really clear on their workspaces. They need to be aware that they will get feedback on their workspaces from their peers in the course. I also wonder if our teachers would be keen to video and share a writing lesson.

Imagine the resources being created for our future teachers by our current amazing teachers.


I already have a history with the waka hourua (double hulled canoes).

 In 2011 I was privileged to catch a ride on Gaulalofa. This year I spotted an advertisement on Facebook  for Tirotiro Whetū, a free event offered as part of Matariki and was sponsored by AMI Insurance. The opportunity was too good to miss and so I jumped at the chance to ride another waka hourua.

We climbed aboard Aotearoa One for a special vessel for a three-hour sailing trip out on the Waitemata Harbour. Aotearoa One is a modern take on a traditional hourua (double hulled) waka and was launched in 2003 for Te Wananga o Aotearoa at their Mangere Campus in Auckland. This evening the boat was skippered by Dale and crewed by members of Te Toki Waka Hourua. The main message from Dale was ‘Don’t fall in the water.’

We set out from Orakei Marina and headed out into the Waitemata Harbour. The evening was cold and luckily we had been warned to come prepared. So I did with thermals, a hat, gloves, scarf and a waterproof jacket. On the way the sun went down and the sails were hoisted. We sailed past Auckland Business district to a beautiful display of fireworks for Bastille Day. The sun dipped lower and lower and with it the changing evening colours reflected in the clouds. Eventually we were in darkness and the city lights reflected on the water. 

Unfortunately the sky was overcast but that did not stop the stories. We sailed under the Auckland Harbour Bridge and Ataahua Papa, Matariki Festival Director for Auckland Council, explained the Vector Lights on Auckland Harbour Bridge. She narrated us through the light sequence. She explained how this year’s host iwi for Matariki Festival, Waikato-Tainui, created the stunning display of lights. More can be read here. The full sequence took just over eight minutes.

As we motored back Hoturoa Kerr  shared his knowledge about traditional Maori and Polynesian culture and sailing methods. I loved hearing the stories of my ancestors. With the stories, we were served warm soup and a roll and then a mug of hot lemon drink. This came at a good time because by now the cold was settling in. 

Finally we arrived back at the marina and disembarked. 

My reflection, wow what an incredible experience going out at night on a waka hourua. I felt Manaakitanga as we were taken care of so well by the crew. I felt whanaungatanga as part of the events of Matariki that brings all of us together to share in an experience. I thought about my key word of Turangawaewae where I am learning more about who I am and my place in the world as I learn more about my past.

To everyone involved in the Matariki organisations for Auckland, thank you so much for sharing. Thank you for making this evening possible. To AMI Insurance, please continue with your awesome support within our community. To Ata and Hoturoa and the crew of Aoteroa One extra special thanks go out to you for your time and for sharing your knowledge with us.

Post Graduate Studies

Over the past two years I have been leading the Mathematics Initiative for the Auckland Central Community of Schools. (ACCoS)

This year I wanted to continue to develop and to maintain knowledge and skills relevant for my performance as an Across School Leader of Mathematics in ACCoS.

One of the areas I identified as needing further learning, was growing my own knowledge about Mathematics for learning.

I applied for and received funding support for a Post Graduate Paper in Mathematics.

I was also extra lucky because Virginia, our initiative Champion for Mathematics, is an Adjunct Lecturer for the Auckland University and Newmarket School is a university partner school. Through our school’s involvement with the university, the other part of my paper’s fees were covered.

Together Virginia and I undertook the paper at postgraduate level. EDCURRIC 714: Exploring Mathematical Thinking.

A decade has passed since I have studied at post graduate level and so I undertook the challenge of completing the paper. The extra pressure of having the fees paid for was my greatest incentive to complete the course. I believe that if I had not that incentive I could have very easily given up.

Those of you who know me might have wondered where I had disappeared over the past few months. I have been surviving.

The course overview indicated that we would focus on critiquing historical number systems as a way of illuminating theoretical issues, and informing our teaching practice, around learning number and place value concepts.

I always believe and say that I would never ask teachers to do something I was not prepared to do myself. I am conscious that my maths is not as strong as it could be and I remembered the year I spent extra time learning maths with one of my teachers when I first arrived in New Zealand. I also remembered a high school teacher spending time with me to help strengthen strategies in preparation for school examinations. My brother in law also spent many afternoons helping me with my maths knowledge and I passed high school maths, but only just enough to get me through.

So maths for me has always been a challenge.

This post graduate paper introduced me to Ancient Egyptian Mathematics and Ancient Greek Mathematics. We learnt how our ancient maths ancestors developed their systems of calculations and we made links of how we could transfer this learning for when we teach children. One section of tasks was to test our children and evaluate where their gaps were. The gaps we identified for was Place Value. As educators we must take this part of mathematics seriously because most of maths knowledge hinges on place value knowledge.

What I learnt doing the course was a lot of what I needed could not be googled. I used youtube as much as possible to help with explanations because the research reading we were given made very little sense. Maybe because the topic I chose was not an area of strength, like language acquisition would have been.

Some of what I did to help with clarification and understanding was to use digital readings and flick them through word clouds so that I could identify what the key ideas might be. I also used free summariser to shorten huge reading down into an understandable paragraph. Therefore when I reread the whole article, I had a sense of what it was about.

As assignment deadlines loomed, I also gave up hope of achieving with excellence and just focussed on completing the assignment and uploading it on time.

I created a couple of videos to help me explain thinking, but learnt quickly that one minute of video equals approximately 100 words of writing and yet took a whole day to create.

My learning from completing the paper was identifying gaps in children’s mathematics and what to do about it. But would I do another paper?? Maybe. However I believe my other professional learning developments add to my microcredentialling such as completing Hapara Training where we focussed on Andragogy, or the book I cowrote with Pam Hook using SOLO Taxonomy, or the Global Educator Certificate with Julie Lindsay, or the collaborative projects I lead such as EdBookNZ where I have worked with forty educators to create collaborative books for education, or the TeachMeetNZ project where I have worked with 120 educators sharing their learning in three minute videoed presentations, or all the conference presentations and staff development I have led, as well as twitter for up to date professional readings, have contributed more to my professional learning than completing a written paper on my own. My other challenge with post graduate studies at Auckland University is that none of my other achievements count towards a qualification and yet they accept educators coming in with a Diploma of Education at Masters Level. I wonder what their digital portfolios look like and if they even share them.

I had Ginny with me and we had plenty of discussion which really helped. However more could have happened in a collaborative way. Yes we had group discussions and group problem solving, but we did not take that collaboration further. More could have happened in co-construction and co-creating. The online learning seemed really surface. There is a massive range of tools out there that could be used to help with co-creating. The simplest being google docs. Knowledge is the start and that is what this paper did. But now to take that knowledge and set up ways that our teachers and students can cocreate with it. I have ideas for maths week.

My Cumulative GPA currently stands at 5.361. But that is still not enough just to do the research component, I have to go back and do more university papers at post graduate certificate level and like I said all the other collaborative work I have done makes no difference.

I finish by thanking my school, Newmarket School, the University of Auckland, the Ministry of Education for covering my fees. However my biggest thanks goes to Virginia Kung, our initiatives champion who prodded me into doing more than just leading the Mathematics Initiative.

Yes I did pass.

Dr Patisepa Vaitimu Tuafuti


Dr Patisepa Vaitimu Tuafuti passed away last week.

Not only was she a teacher trainer, she was also a mother, grandmother, tireless community person and a dear friend.

I first met Pati in January 1995, when I undertook my first paper for the National diploma of Education. At that time Pati was Pasifika Education Advisor and worked in the Advisory service at Kohia Teachers Centre. She worked closely with Samoan teachers in the Auckland Region to establish the Ulimasao Bilingual Education Association Inc.

We became firm friends.

Over the years I learnt more about Pati and we connected through several links. Such as connections with our families in Samoa. Historically our Gafa crosses paths in the villages of Afega and Manono in Samoa.

She was one of the few people who did not hesitate to tell me if I she thought I was neglecting my learning. Through Pati’s gentle encouragement I completed my National Diploma of TESSOL whilst raising a young family and working full time. She took me under her wings and encouraged me to further my learning both academically, service to community work, and to growing my Samoan language and culture.

She helped steer me on the path of first language maintenance. When I first knew her my Samoan had become rusty through lack of use. However she encouraged me to present in Samoan and to run teacher workshops in Samoan and to speak at community events in Samoan. My oral Samoan is now very strong.

I was going through my photos of Pati and sure enough it was a real challenge to locate her as often she would hover behind. She would always pushing others to the front. That was her way. Always the mentor behind us. Push is not a strong enough word for Pati. Somehow or other I would always say yes to anything she asked of me. She had a gentle way of persuasion.

Together we visited Samoa in 2000 for the Fagasa annual conference and then visited her sister and family in Savaii and her brother and family in Afega.

We attended the CLESOL conference in Wellington in 2002.

In 2003, we co-presented at the LED conference in Hamilton.

Together we went and presented in Hawaii at the annual Fagasa conference in 2004.

We attended the CLESOL conference in Christchurch in 2004 where she was invited to be a plenary speaker and it was where she shared the earlier research of her PHD.

We were both on the Auckland CLESOL Conference Steering committee in 2000.

We were on the steering committee for both Ulimasao’s conferences. The one held in Auckland in 2002 and the second conference in 2005, one where 200 educators visited Samoa. Both conferences stressed the importance of Bilingualism but not at the expense of first language maintenance.

Over the years we have watched our children grow up. She would often attend my children’s celebrations and I would often be at hers. Over the past few years, celebrations centred around her grandchildren of whom she was immensely proud.

In 2016, Pati graduated with her Doctorate of Philosophy in Education.  Her thesis was titled ‘Pululima Faifai Pea.‘ Her expertise and educational experiences were in the areas of Language Acquisition, Bilingual Education/Bilingualism, Critical Theory & Critical Literacies, Empowerment Education for Minorities and Raising Achievement for Pacific children within the NZ educational system. Her research on bilingualism, empowerment, critical pedagogy and power relation was influenced strongly by the work of Jim Cummins and Stephen May.

‘E i loa le Samoa moni i lana tu ma lana tautala.’

You can tell a true Samoan by behaviour  and speech.

Pati was hugely influenced in fa’asamoa knowledge and epistemologies by experts such as Professor Aiono Fanaafi Le Tagaloa and Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese and many other Samoan elders. She followed their examples of service to the community. She would say to me that alongside research, one must always be an active member of the community being researched. 
Pati, manuia lou malaga ma e fetaui i le Pule muamua i le lagi.

Alofaaatu le uso pele.


Funeral details for Patisepa Tuafuti


Teacher Only Days- reflection


Each year at Newmarket school we usually begin the year with teacher only days. I have been at a school that had them at the end of the year and both times have positives and challenges. This time I was ready for some learning because I have been really busy with family and my garden during the summer holidays. Usually I read heaps in the holidays but this vacation I have not done as much. Below is a summary of what I learnt

Emergency procedures

As a school Wade Harrison from RED Consultancy,  helped us revisit our ‘Emergency procedures’. We began the new year with several new members and so it was timely to go over Planning and preparing for emergencies and traumatic incidents.

PaCT Tool

Three years ago together with several members of staff, I attended my first training with PaCT at the Ministry of Education Symposium held at Ellerslie. Last year our ISL created a Hapara space on our Staff Workspace to guide teachers in using PaCT with mathematics. You can check that link here. The PaCT section is green.

This week we had Nadine Sorresen from evaluation associates run a days professional learning with us using PaCT.

The session with Nadine was just in time learning for me. She took us through the power of PaCT and reminded us about its interrelationship with the Learning Progression Framework.

To explain it simply PaCT is the engine that unlocks algorhythms when we make Overall Teacher Judgements using the Learning Progression Framework.

The Learning Progression Framework Illustrates the Curriculum visually.

Three key words from PaCT to know are

  • Aspects
      • Aspect are the big ideas within each curriculum areas.
      • Some aspects have smaller sets and this indicates smaller increments.
      • The aspects cover learning from Year 1-year 10.
      • They do NOT Correspond with curriculum levels and do NOT increase year by year.
  • Sets
      • Sets are within the aspects and break down those big ideas into smaller increments of learning.
      • Help with decision making as illustration examples are wide and varied.
  • Illustrations
    • Are visual examples of learning at each level so that as teachers we can track and confirm our judgement before using the PaCT tool to give a clearer picture.

Below are the Aspects we make Overall Teacher Judgement on

Writing across the curriculum

  • encoding
  • text features
  • vocabulary knowledge
  • think and organise for learning
  • communicate knowledge and understanding
  • literary purposes
  • influence others

Reading across the curriculum

  • processing system
  • text structure
  • vocabulary knowledge
  • reading critically
  • organise ideas and information for learning
  • using information and ideas in informational texts

My Takeaways

  • All of the Illustrations within a Set weights the Aspect.
  • PaCT does not happen at one sitting but as evidence is gathered over 1-2 terms across the curriculum. Nadine spoke about Naturally Harvesting.
  • Several week before confirming the final indicator within a PaCT a teacher can see where gaps still need to be gathered from.
  • PaCT works well when completed twice a year and is ongoing annually
  • PaCT can be anniversary collated for our year 1-3 reporting cycle.
  • Teachers can track progress of
    • Individual students
    • Class
    • or other groups

Overall PaCT supports teachers to understand how students develop their expertise in learning. Currently PaCT is set up for Reading, Writing and Mathematics.

As we naturally harvest learning we look across curriculum for evidence to help us make our overall teacher judgement.


Last year I worked with a group of students to look at planning for 2019.

Together the children came up with the overall theme of Belonging.

We used SOLO Hexagons to clarify thinking around what we believed to be important ideas for learning. The children wanted to know more about our local history and wanted to know stories about our school and area.

As a school we were fortunate to make connections with Pāora Puru from the Ministry of Education who was then invited to share his historic knowledge about our Maunga, Maungawhau.

As a staff we were going to have the session on the mountain itself however the weather had other plans. So Pāora came to school. Pāora helped define what is unique and distinctive about Auckland.  We garnered information not just about our local area but the whole of Tāmaki Makaurau. He shared rich historic heritage. This heritage reinforces our sense of belonging, our identity as Aucklanders and a sense of pride in our beautiful city.

As a green gold endorsed school this learning enriches our knowledge and pride about our environment.

During his session we had two visiting teachers from Parnell School who are working alongside us as a Green Gold Endorsed school. In addition we had Nicky Elmore our liaison from the Auckland Regional Council.

I cannot wait to share some of the stories I learnt with our children. Every two years we visit our local marae of Orakei and this year is our year so again there will be more to learn and to share.

Teacher only days are usually days of professional learning. At Newmarket School I always enjoy them because of opportunities that are created to make connections with each other. Our Senior Leadership team always ensure that we are well fed and watered both physically and mentally. There are always next steps through Goal Setting and that will come soon. These days give us the chance to reflect on what is coming and to set in motion ideas and opportunities for learning.

This year I am in class with a beginning teacher, I have our support staff programme to oversee and coordinate, I will continue to look at the trends in our ethnic and learning data, I have my across schools role for ACCoS, and I will continue to support the staff wherever I am needed.

I have had a good break and feel refreshed and excited for the new year.

Message for my son


Photo by Margaret

O le a lou manatu i le uiga o le savali i le pogisa faaleagaga?

What do you think it means to walk in spiritual darkness?

One word for 2019


Mā te whakapapa tūhonotia ai ngā mea katoa, whai māramatanga ai hoki ngā kōrero atua, kōrero tuku iho, ngā hītori, ngā mātauranga, ngā tikanga, ngā āria me ngā wairuatanga ki tēnā whakatipuranga ki tēnā (Te Ara 2015). / Whakapapa binds all things and clarifies mythology, legend, history, knowledge, customary practices, philosophies and spiritualities and their transmission from one generation to the next.

(Maori Dictionary)

Every year, I think of a Maori word that I hear in my educational context but do not really understand. I take that word and find out as much as I can about it to deepen my understanding. This year my one word is Wairuatanga.  In Samoan the word is ‘Faaleagaga.’

Last year, I learnt to use my Samoan language to help with unpacking Maori concepts. The challenge I have is that I am not of Maori blood. However I am Samoan and historically we share ancestors and traditional spiritual practices that are intertwined with our environment.

When I refer to the introductory statement in Samoan I think back to Fanaafi, when she wrote:  ‘A leai se gagana, ua leai se aganuu, a leai se aganuu ona po lea o le nuu.’ When you lose your language, you lose your culture and when there is no longer a living culture, darkness descends on the village.

Yesterday at my nephew’s wedding, my eldest son shone a light on our Samoan culture as he proudly stood up in his ‘ie faitaga’ and his ‘ofutino elei’ wearing an ‘ula fala’. He had been practising a translation in Samoan to say at the wedding. And he did it. As a Samoan mum, I could not have been more proud. He had also made some Ula Lole and made a big fuss with presenting them. The couple received 2 strands each and one strand had $10.00 notes in between. So if you can visualise this very handsome young man calling ‘Tiuhoo’ and racing up before the ceremony began to present his gift. Behind the couple we faced the beach so Tagaloa was our backdrop. In front of the couple the ‘Uo ma Aiga’ had gathered and were seated. So we have all the next generation witnessing something like this for their first time and therefore the transmission of a practice. Around us we have our ‘Faalupega’ both living and deceased so there is live history happening.  

At a wedding, the focus is always on the newly wedded couple. However if we dig deeper we can see the occasion as an opportunity to revitalise who we are, make connections to our past, our ‘gagana’ and our ‘aganuu.’ The chance is there to do something about ‘Wairuatanga’. If you just think about it,  the moment to act is soon gone.

The backdrop of Tagaloa is a timely reminder too to act. The wedding allows us the opportunity to reflect about what we say and do. Tagaloa and who we are as Pasifika are so intertwined. As inhabitants of the Pacific Ocean our islands are drowning in plastic and so the reminder is there to look after our natural resource.

So my son our customary practice of gifting ‘Ula Lole’ does need a revamp. Maybe our next ones do away with all the plastic and we just weave money into natural materials. As we sat making them you and I discussed how creating these gifts sets a benchmark for the next wedding in your generation. So let us take up the challenge together and see if we can create something just as stunning, but with a lot less plastic. At the same time, hold your head high. As a young man, you already have all the qualities we hold dear. Your knowledge of our legends, our family history, our customary practices, philosophies and ‘faaleagaga’ holds you up as a light in my heart.

SOLO Taxonomy and reflecting

Yes I know multistructural as in have just listed my reflections. However I am OK with that. So far I have had a lovely break. Caught up with family.

Been riding the busses with mum and that is always heaps of fun. Slept in most days past the dreaded 5.30am alarm.

Major life events that happened over the year;

Notable challenges or mistakes;

  • Lost and regained weight
  • Letting go by building the expertise around us
  • Was really sick
  • Took on Travelwise again for my 7th year.
  • Both boys shifted away
  • Did not escape to Tiritirimatangi because of tooth.


Notable successes.


Parent Engagement and Participation


I learnt how to use this fabulous tool on youtube where the transcript can be extracted. Earlier this week our Across School Leaders in the Auckland Central Community of Schools (ACCoS)  presented their years work as a short video. I exported the transcript into a spreadsheet, removed the times, copied and pasted the text into a doc and then created a word cloud using https://voyant-tools.org.

What came through strongly in the key terms used were agency, teacher, student and school. Other words to be expected were learning, leaders, professional, collaboration, feedback.

However the word I would love to see appear was parents. But this was not. I know in our  Pāngarau/Mathematics  Initiative which I led, we had parents as one of our key areas.

As we move into 2019 I wonder how we can include parents and whanau more into what we do as school leaders. Our initial achievement challenge document included this key area and we fought to have it included and passed for our ACCoS but it seems to have fallen under our headlights.

Maybe each initiative can include our parents and ways to include them as one of their goals when they create their Action Plans for next year.

Again I am looking at this from a leadership view across our schools  but as I dig deeper and push right down into our professional learning groups within schools or PLGs, I wonder what their improvement plans look like and if parents even receive a mention.

We are so much better at focussing on our agency with our children and now our teachers. Maybe it is time to also highlight agency with our parents and families. By stressing a focus in this area, a greater consciousness will be raised of the importance of parents and whanau in their children’s learning.

What are your thoughts? Do your parents and whanau feature strongly in your Action Plans in your Communities of Learning. Can I see this if I search for it?


Timetravel to Canada

First Nation totem poles in Stanley park

With modern flights I left New Zealand on Saturday night and arrived in Vancouver on Sunday just after lunch.

I have always wanted to visit Canada because I had a pen pal who lived here. Mrs Dianne Di Sommer set that up when I was in intermediate. So Canada was on my bucket list. 

The trip far exceeded all my expectations. I traveled with my second sister and we left our eldest sister at home looking after Mum. 

One journey highlight was flying our national carrier and having a comfortable flight over and back.

In Vancouver we were able to tick off many to dos on our list. Such as the Capilano swing bridge where there was information about water conservation, visiting the First Nation totem poles in Stanley park to remind how closely linked original people are with the environment, the Vancouver Aquatic Centre where there was much information on the sad state of our oceans. 

The second day saw us experience an early snow fall on Grouse Mountain. Again reminding me how much we are a water planet. The variety of trees growing on the mountain was again a reminder of how much trees, mountains and water are all interconnected. 

We caught the aqua boat to Granville island and spend a couple of hours wandering the market place seeing and tasting some local produce. 

We were in one of the movie capitals of the world and they were just launching the International film month. 

We stayed at Sutton hotel, just a stone throw from Fremont hotel where ghost busters was filmed. The hotel was clean, quiet and very comfortable. The hotel was centrally located within walking distance from everything we needed. 

My impressions of Vancouver was a feeling of familiarity. The city was just shifting into the autumn season and so the trees were just starting to Change colour so there was yellows, orange and red happening. I looked out for the Anna Hummingbird but this trip was not to be. However my sister took great delight in teasing me about traffic signals that I had earlier on wondered which bird we were hearing. 

We came to Canada prepared for a constant drizzle as had been forecasted and yet, we really only had drizzle the first half day. The rest of our trip was dry and mild. 


One cannot visit a new place without mentioning the food. 

We breakfasted at Bellaggios most mornings where we ate bacon and eggs and bottomless coffee. I was treated to a Mexican dish, Thai and my absolute favourite was eating Canadian Salmon at Earles served with rice and long stemmed broccoli. We finished off our meals with a shared slice of pumpkin pie. 

Being school teacher I had wondered if I could squeeze in a school visit. But for this trip I am glad I did not because the journey was really short. 

Those of you who know me, know my love of numbers. During my short visit I walked just over 67,000 steps covering approximately 44 kilometres. Most nights I slept close to 12 hours. 

Overall I had an amazing time. I spent time with one of my sisters. I was able to visit an amazing city and have a bit of a break from work. 

I forgot to mention. On our last day as we were signing out, a small party of First Nation people in full regalia were just leaving the hotel. I was super excited but restrained from getting a selfie because it just did not seem right. The man had claws on his hands and they both had on beaded national dress. I would have loved to find out more. But again maybe next time. 

Gaualofa: A trip back down memory lane.



What you do out of love will live forever.


Gaualofa in Okahu Bay. I ❤️ this this photo which includes the self made buoys from left over Jandal material and bound in netting. Effective use and repurposing of rubber.

An old school friend Maselina from St Mary’s Savalalo, Samoa tagged me on facebook and said did I know that the Gaualofa was back in Auckland. She suggested I take some time to come down to Okahu Bay and show my support.

I was super excited.  In April 2011 I had been privileged to catch a ride on the Gaualofa. You can read that story here.

The Gaualofa is  an example of Samoa’s double-hulled voyaging canoe. To this day I still have fond memories of the excitement I had sailing on this traditional Va’atele and remembered stories of my great grandmother sailing between islands. You can learn more about the Gaualofa by reading this description.

In 2012 Gaualofa was gifted to the Samoa Voyaging Society by Okeanos Foundation for the Sea founder by Dieter Paulmann and his wife Hanna.

I got the chance to speak with Schannel Fanene van Dijken, President of the Samoan Voyaging Society and who works for Conservation International Samoa. He explained, The Samoan Voyaging Society (SVS) is a non-profit Samoan organisation that is reviving the heritage of traditional ocean voyaging/navigation and environmental stewardship with new generations of Samoans and other Pacific Islanders. The Society is the caretaker of the Gaualofa, a 22-meter Samoan traditional Va’a or Vaka (Ocean sailing double hulled voyaging canoe) which is used as a platform to deliver traditional navigation/way-finding and ocean and environmental education programming around Samoa and surrounding Islands. The Va’s is our floating classroom with our main goal to enhance the environmental knowledge and importance of caring for our environment amongst our Pacific people, provided by our 14 – 16 trained crew onboard. Since 2009, the Vaʻa Gaualofa has sailed more than 40,000 nautical miles. The Society’s work has been recognised and supported by the Samoan Government, the United States, Chinese and NZ Embassies in Samoa, Okeanos Foundation, Disney, and Conservation International.”

Schannel  stressed that “the New Zealand voyage is an important one. Not only does this allow us to honor and celebrate our shared ancestral bonds with our Maori aiga, but also highlight to our Samoan based aiga who we are and what we represent.”

Via Conservation International

The theme of aiga is an important one to the crew and to the wider Aiga Folau because the not-for-profit organisation works not only to revive Samoa’s traditional sailing and navigation skills but also our past stewardship responsibilities that promoted sustainable land and ocean resource use amongst communities.

  • Read Samoa Planets article: Aiga Folau o Samoa bring the Gaualofa to Aotearoa to get an insight into Aiga Folau President Schannel Fanene van Dijken and Vice President of Aiga Folau, and Tulafale for the Gaualofa, Lauaki Lavata’i Afifi Mailagi sharing about the hopes to strengthen bonds with their Maori whanau.
  • Maori TV ran an excerpt on the journey to Aotearoa and the  Samoan Observer followed the conversation of the SVS and the work they to raise awareness about the environment.

The Gaualofa event is also a reminder for us at Newmarket School to continue our enviro work. Our children completed a beach clean up at Okahu Bay a few years ago and it is a timely reminder to keep revisiting our schools goals of being sustainable. I know my recent visit to Tiritirimatangi was a bit of a shock because I was there soon after a storm and spent a few hours collecting plastic off my favourite beach. But not just the soil and water sustainability but also the air because we need clear skies to read the stars. So the sustainable work I have done with my students in regards to clean air all helps.

The crew will spend the next month preparing their vessel and participate at the Auckland Anniversary weekend Tāmaki Herenga Waka Festival.

They will then set sail north to the Bay of Islands for Waitangi Day celebrations on the 6th of February. After that they will sail alongside Haunui and Ngahiraka mai Tawhitithe down the west coast to participate at the Pacific Climate Change conference and the New Zealand Festival in Wellington as they are part of the central participants at the ‘Waka Odyssey in February’. 

The Gaualofa will be in Wellington until 28th Feb then sail up west coast again to Porirua for another set of community events, going into early March. Finally they plan to leave New Zealand from Kawhia mid March and make the 2000 mile voyage home to Samoa in April.

The crew will be engaging with the public and schools during these sails and events. There will be many public sails, school visits with the goal of promoting culture and environment.

Maselina and I spent a few hours down at Okahu Bay catching up.  I have not her seen face to face for forty five years.  But because of social media time is not that important. In addition I met several members of the 2018 custodians of the Gaualofa such as Trevor who comes from the same district of Falealili as my family, Jamal who is from the Tamasese family and Xavier. I found out later that Xavier has one daughter called Nafanua after the Goddess of War. Nafanua’s weapon of choice was known as Ulimasao and that is also my online name.

Later I was also able to meet several of the other crew members. I was super excited to catch up with Fealofani Brunn who now captains the Gaualofa and also Kalolo Steffany who is now the navigator for the Gaualofa.


          Some of the crew enjoying some lunch.                                                  Myself, Maselina and Fealofani.

The current crew of Gaualofa.

Anna Bertram Secretary
Sa’oleititi Caroline Duffy cultural affairs and protocols
Fealofani Brunn Captain
Jamal Tamasese Crew, Recipient of 2017 Environmental Heroes Leadership Programme
Kalolo Steffany Navigator
Kevin Samia
Lauaki Lavata’i Afifi Mailagi Vice President and Tulafale
Maoluma Onesemo Crew Representative on SVS so executive committee.
Roman Waterhouse Crew
Sai Crew
Schannel Fanene van Dijken Conservation International Samoa –

President of the Samoan Voyaging Society

Semo Crew
Seniu Crew
Sose Crew
Trevor Crew
Xavier Lui Membership and outreach officer on SVS executive

To give you an idea of the sort of activities  SVS are doing with the Gaualofa, check out the following links to see the pilot community program carried out earlier in 2017 with taking the Disney movie “Moana” around Samoa.

For more information

To support The Aiga Folau o Samoa and their journey to raise awareness about our ocean 

you can contribute via their website and head along to one of two upcoming fundraising events in January to raise funds for the general maintenance of the Gaualofa and provisioning of the crew.

South Auckland

WHERE: St Mary’s Parish Hall Papakura

WHEN: Friday 20 January 2018

Central West Auckland


Other ways you can help.


Below are some of what I saw that you could help with.

$1000.00 help us replace one of our beams. We have 12 beams that need some loving.
$200.00 helps us buy our weather jackets. We have 16 crew members.
$100 helps us waterproof the storage boxes. We have 4 of those.

Anyone have access to a communications provider that can help them with mobile DATA access?

$100 helps us buy a week’s worth of food provision per member.  Again we have 16 members and we are in Aotearoa for 14 weeks.