#EdBookNZ

In September of 2014 I had been turning a few phrases around as I researched the term Connected Educator.  From there I created a list of current phrases and decided to get some bloggers to unpack and query what these terms meant. Then thought, why not write a book and each blogger contribute their part. Via twitter I out a call out and the following tweeps responded. Each author literally had to take a term that they used and critique why it needed to change. My other stipulation was that they needed a critically friend who would give them feedback before their post went live.

#EdBookNZ 14

Read the Digital Copy- you will need to sign in to download.

https://issuu.com/ulimasao/docs/completed_book__2_

Purchase the paper copy

https://www.peecho.com/checkout/issuu/332766/completed-book-2-

The following year, I thought, let’s do this again.

#EDBookNZ15

Read the Digital Copy- you will need to sign in to download.

http://issuu.com/ulimasao/docs/edbooknz_terms_2015

Purchase the paper copy

https://www.peecho.com/checkout/issuu/332989/edbooknz-terms-2015

At the same time I realised that I needed to seriously look at co-construction. So running alongside the book, I set up the wiki and invited educators in to unpack the Practicing Teacher Criteria. I was aiming for a collaborative definition of each of the criteria. However as is usual I learnt the most as understanding Tataiako helped frame the terms of reference.

Here you can check out the wiki of terms. http://edbooknz.wikispaces.com/

Doing this huge collaborative helped me see where I needed to move with TeachMeetNZ, My ideas appeared so big and daunting that I literally freaked out and shelved TeachMeetNZ under the pretence that I was studying. In some ways there was no way I could carry out what I could envisage. That too and just having a year to percolate my thinking.

In 2016 I put out another call in regards to EdBookNZ as I believe in always giving back. So that was my main claim to collaboration. That and tuning communication systems for our ACCoS Community of Learners.

#EdBookNZ16

Read the Digital Copy- you will need to sign in to download.

https://issuu.com/ulimasao/docs/edbooknz_terms_2016

Purchase the paper copy

https://www.peecho.com/checkout/issuu/332988/edbooknz-terms-2016

  • @leonie_hastings
  • @stuartkellynz
  • @jamesanderson
  • @newmarketschool
  • @AKeenReader
  • @mrs_hyde
  • @nikora75
  • @Doctor_Harves
  • @beechEdesignz
  • @kerriattamatea

 

Now this year,

 

#EdBookNZ17 

I put out another call for EdBookNZ and have my complete list of educators. I am really excited because as usual creating an artifact for the education community pushes me into hyperdrive as I also one of the authors.

With EdBookNZ I had a massive disaster on ISSUU when I accidentally deleted all my collaborative books. I was more gutted in losing the history of downloads.

But in saying that, better things happen and now on ISSUU the books can be purchased or the PDFs download free. However you do need to create an account for the downloads. I also am unsure how to make the paper copy link easily accessible but am working on that.

Finally I am really excited about holding a printed book because I have been trying and trying to do something on Amazon, but found the process of publishing too technical.

I used ISSUU because it was the easiest platform for digital publishing. 

A dear friend and mentor said to me recently, holding the completed #EdBooks in your hands is a powerful example of collaboration.

To finish with, I just have to put a shout out for Saturday’s session of #TeachMeetNZ. This session highlights our ACCoS Kahui Ako. If you register on Eventbrite, you will go in the draw to win another example of collaboration. ‘SOLO Taxonomy and English Language Learners.’

 

 

Outliers

Recently I ran a collaborative project with four amazing educators and learnt from them what happens when we provide conditions, and then learning takes over.

Since then I have been reading the work of Tony Wagner and he writes that

‘isolation is the enemy of improvement’.

http://www.tonywagner.com/1191

Over the years I have read around the following labels for teachers such as

  • Teacherpreneur
  • Connected Educator
  • Disobedient Teacher
  • Outlier Teachers

So focusing on Tony Wagner’s term of Outlier Teachers I put on my SOLO Taxonomy hat and made connections with my situation.

If you used our National standard Data to access us as a school you will quickly see that out the 11 schools in our Kāhui Ako, we appear to fall short. However if you dig deeper into our school’s data, you will see that many of our children have scores that stand up straight as they head towards the national norms. Therefore our children have exponential learning. If you look at our attendance data, we are above the national norms for attendance for our decile rating and for our major ethnic group. Our current ethnic data reveals that our dominant group is 65.1% Asia.

Data.jpg

In addition we have currently surveyed our students using ‘Me and my school’ survey and can see that our children love coming to school, that they know where they are with their learning and that they feel safe and valued as learners. By doing this we listen carefully to our students to better understand their classroom and school experiences.

Most of our learners at our school need time. They need time to learn in their second language of English and they need time to collaborate.

 

Collaboration

Collaboration is essential for professional educator innovation. As an across school leader for our Kāhui Ako, how do we create opportunities for collaboration? Research identifies that the greatest variance happens within a school. Therefore I wonder what our principals and school leaders do to support and create opportunities for collaboration within their own schools. I believe that part of our ACCoS work is to forge across school collaboration yet still be aware of what happens within school.

 

In our school

In our own school we value transparency and communication. Our teams of teachers work together to collaboratively gather data about learning, set goals and plan learning. All data and planning is open across the school. Teams plan learning sessions to develop children’s curiosity and imagination, teaching them the skills and dispositions that matter most. Learners passions often evolve through perseverance, respect and self discipline.

 

One team has been experimenting with developing genuine interests through group projects. When we see this in action there is a genuine love of learning and excitement. Experiences are created that excite the learners both intellectually and emotionally. These teachers  have the courage and sense of urgency needed to make a radical break from the old ways of learning and have encouragement from our senior management  to innovate their practice.  As students undertake new ways of learning they must provide evidence of what has been learnt such as the creating of something useful. One strategy I really like is the peer review that happens. Children give each other feedback on work completed and failure is celebrated if the process has been documented. They are known to take calculated risks and sometimes this has resulted in incredible learning. Problem solving happens across disciplinary boundaries and we can see other curriculum areas as well as key competencies come into the learning. These sessions are noisy and can appear chaotic to an outsider however real learning is happening as passion and purpose develops through this discovery-based learning. The children are intrinsically motivated.

 

Over time the other teams in our school are now beginning to trial and experiment with similar ideas.

 

Placing an arm around the shoulder of disobedient teachers- Digby Wells.

Often when I see teachers experimenting outside normal phenomena I am aware that they can be under constant scrutiny and ongoing questioning. An arm of support that I have given some of these teachers is to share their narrative using #TeachMeetNZ or reflecting via #EdBlogNZ. Often within their own school they fly under the radar but via social media they use technologies to learn from other outliers, connect with them, collaborate with them, and create stunning learning for their learners. They understand the importance of authentic, performance-based forms of learning and show their own learning via their educator digital portfolios. They leave breadcrumbs of learning for other educators to follow. They have a strong sense of service to the education community and often I hear the words justice and citizenship in their discussions. If I dig further I can hear the importance of sustainability and looking after our planet voiced strongly in the work they do. There is also a commitment to diversity and ensuring that all voices are heard. They understand and embed cultural competencies in their pedagogy. Therefore generally out of the norm these teachers have sets of qualities strongly in common with each other. What these qualities are? I am not sure of yet but I am working on my understanding.

 

Leading from the middle

Through the work of Michael Fullan we understand the importance of leading from the middle and that great ideas about education come from all levels and not just at the top. We are currently unpacking the need to work collaboratively and not in isolation. However within our CoL we are still unpacking what this looks like. Pockets of collaboration are happening at teacher level as some professional Innovation surface.

Data2.jpg

Adapted from My NingBo Principals Presentation

 

Where to next?

  • How do we instill the Importance of service and giving back as a driving sense of purpose?
  • How do we develop the In School Leaders (ISL)  that we work with to develop their own sense of purpose?
  • How do we engage all educators within our CoL?
  • Ultimately how do we get our teachers and students working together across our schools?

 

I believe that we can do this through the use of technology to connect, collaborate and cocreate. Face to face connections are a beginning but I believe are not enough. I think we need to push the idea of connections and collaboration  further to include blended connections and blended collaborations through using blended learning spaces.

 

Some ideas for further discussion

Within our school I can see variance between levels. For example our year 3 students have individual google accounts and use these to access their learning. When I look at our junior school there appears to be little preparation for them to move straight into using individual chromes. They use iPads generally as a tool to access apps and the internet. I see little evidence of creating with the apps. Some teachers are beginning to use SeeSaw to share learning and we are in the stage of bringing this into a school account.

When I look at our middle school, I see children using their google accounts for school work but see very little digital collaboration between children. I also do not see much sharing with the outside except via wechat and this is teacher and parent driven. As I look to their future at our school I can see little preparation of what happens at year 5 & 6 where children are expected to plan their day using google calendars. Or when our seniors carry our their critical friends evaluations.

Therefore even within our school transitioning between levels is a huge step up.

Our own ISL have organised our teachers to observe writing at a level above and below of what they teach so that hopefully this begins to address some of the transition gaps. This process has raised some interesting discussion. But as a digitally fluent teacher I wonder why not enough use is made of the technology for learners to see each others work or for them to work together in a visible way. I also wonder why many of our teachers do not show the children their planning via sites.

Sometimes as an observer who sometimes works in class, it is easier to be critical but at the same time as the elearner leader at our school I have worked hard to ensure that all equipment is maintained and working, learning apps are added to iPads that are requested within reason, online learning spaces are available such as Reading Eggs, Edmodo and Wevideo to help with student collaboration, Flat Connections have been used to help raise teacher learning in the use of collaborative learning tools but still there is the usual way of learning that I have observed 5 years and more ago happening. So as a strong digital teacher, if I cannot get our own teachers to move faster how can I get our CoL moving to work across. What I have done is look for my own tribe and that is where twitter has been invaluable. So on twitter I can do heaps more collaboration and co-creation than I can within my own school or across schools.

When I look at the collaboration chart above, I believe that we can move to level 4 where students are working with students across schools with teacher support using the technology. I was asked how did I know that across school collaboration is not already happening. I responded with, ‘If I cannot see evidence of across school collaboration, then it does not exist.’

I know how to get us there but I might loose a few people in the process.  

Show me what you do

  • Can I see your reflections?
  • Can I see your videos?
  • Can I see you chatting with colleagues in a visible way?

Surely by now our own learning portfolios are live and not sitting in a paper folder.

 

#iNZpirED

Today we celebrated #iNZpirED with a difference.

#INZpirED began as a 3 nation collaboration India, Nepal & New Zealand. The main objective is to invite our PLN to chat on various topics.

This week we had four of us work together to create the format for todays session which was live streamed via youtube.

Theme: Wrapping a cloak of support around educators was inspired by the work of Dr Welby Ings. Welby talks about putting an arm around our disobedient thinkers.

Audience participation took place via 

  1. Twitter #iNZpirED share some highlights of where/when  you have felt supported with the NZ Team.
  2. Google Draw- map where you are in the world- Viv

  3. Padlet: upload a photo of a view from your window- Ritu

  4. FlipGrids with -Kerri

    • FlipGrid Disobedient Learning-
    • FlipGrid – Collective Teacher Efficacy

    • Flipgrid – are schools too preoccupied with routine?

Participants were encouraged to comment on each others contribution.

Inzpired

I used https://www.timeanddate.com to identify times for other zones.

I also used CIA Factbook for the different flags. I created this presentation with greetings of languages we have at our school and place them on display. If you want a copy, please help yourself and let me know how you use it.

Initially Ritu approached me to host a session and of course I said yes and we discussed a variety of ideas. The idea of live streaming came up and so we brought in a team to work with us. We prepared for the session by communicating via direct group messaging on twitter. I set up a variety of docs and slides. When we got together for a practice run through, each idea was discussed and modified and that is where Padlet and Flipgrid came in. Because we were broadcasting from New Zealand we thought that it was important to highlight what makes us unique in the world and for us kiwi educators it is our connections with our Te Reo and our environment.
On the morning of the session we were still tweaking and adapting. Ritu accidentally tweeted that we would sing a waiata and so I did a mad scramble to relearn how to play the ukulele because I could not find my guitar. Unfortunately I only know a couple of chords and so I could not transpose the song down. Therefore it was a little on the high side.
Highlights
The exciting part of pulling an event like this together is the learning that we all do. I loved the use of Padlet to make connections and the use FlipGrid to capture thinking. I also really liked the mapping idea and using images to jazz it up a bit.
Breadcrumbs
When we have virtual learning we have the chance to capture digitally what we have done. From the work I have carried out with Julie Lindsay I know the importance of capturing the digital breadcrumbs so that there is a resource for the education community.
Reflecting
From my learning with Pam Hook and SOLO Taxonomy I know the importance of documenting the process and identifying what went well, what was the learning and what needs to happen next time.
The event itself was fabulous and even more so because of the people involved. That Ritu is truly an iNZpirED_udator. Viv brought her facilitator hat to the discussion and helped with the conversation. As for Kerri I really liked the way she kept opening up feeds within the FlipGrid to drive our learning deeper.
The twitter feed was exceptional and we remembered how difficult it is to do both a hangout and tweet at the same time. I give a shoutout to all the tweeps who took part and apologies for not being able to multi task and respond immediately.  I know I did not get to twitter until after the hangout.
When I rewinded the clip, I realised that I had not switched on my camera when sharing the screen so must remember that for next time.
Creating a Hangout is not that difficult. Below are two links on presentation that you might find useful in case you are interested in trying something like this.
Where to next
Soon I will start training any interested teachers in Kahui Ako who would like to take part in a  TeachMeetNZ/ ACCoS session.
Finally
Thanks to all educators who took part today in any of the activities and a special shout out to Dr Welby Ings. Ritu I am holding you to that Flash Mob ukulele idea.

Digital Technologies Hangarau Matihiko

DTlHM (1).jpg

  • Topic: Strengthening Digital Technologies Hangarau Matihiko (#DTlHM) in the curriculum
  • Where: St Cuthbert’s School
  • What: Asking for feedback
  • When: 7th August 2017
  • Who: Principals and School Leaders

Facilitators:

What teachers, leaders & Communities of Learning need to know.

There is a Grassroots movement happening in schools. “Many teachers, schools, kura and Kāhui Ako are already making digital technologies learning part of their teaching programmes. This change to the national curriculum ensures that all learners get these experiences, to prepare them for a world where digital skills are increasingly valuable to the economy and wider society.”  

The consultation session that I attended with my principal was run for principals, and school leaders including Kāhui Ako because the new addition to the national curriculum needs senior management understanding.

The goals for the session were to

  • Understand the nature of the DT|HM areas
  • Understand the various reasons it’s being offered.
  • See ways that we and our students might engage with it.
  • ………. So we could provide information feedback.

DTlHM2.jpg

Wendy and I were particularly interested in the session offered to all schools in Auckland because the official announcement in regards to the addition to the New Zealand Curriculum from Education Minister Nikki Kaye  took place at Newmarket School on the 28th of June. That and because we both have strengths in Digital Technologies with a history of designing and developing digital outcomes for all our learners. We both believe that our pedagogy with digital technologies pedagogy is strong.

However what I found particularly fascinating was the way that both Tim and Hinerangi emphasised the importance of people and how they communicate. They both said the new curriculum was not about computers but was really about computational thinking. How the digital world interacts with the human world.

They both explained that DT|HM curriculum is about human need.

Some of the session focussed on unpacking computational thinking and looking at the technology dealing with digital technology using binary digits. But again there were no digital devices or digital technology used to push the concept of computational thinking. Instead both facilitators took us through basic activities to highlight the Progress Outcomes on Page 17 of the draft. There was a mention of Kāhui Ako and how as educators we need to develop understanding of transitioning so that we can help our learners as they move between the sectors. They stressed the importance of ensuring that our learners understood the why so that we can shift them from not just being consumers of digital technologies but to being creators.

Background and what we need to be know as educators

Digital technology Hangarau Matihiko is to be formally integrated into the NZ Curriculum. DTlHM is the first change to the NZ Curriculum since 2007. By 2018 the addition will be in schools. The subject  will be fully integrated into the NZ Curriculum and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa by 2020.

What is DT|HM

DT|HM is about teaching students how technology works, and how they can use that knowledge to solve problems. This new curriculum  will equip our learners for the increasingly digitalised workplace and society. This will keep New Zealand competitive. Schools will be teaching our young people the computer science principles that all digital technologies are built on. They will be teaching Computational Thinking for Digital Technologies. Computational thinking is when students will develop an understanding of computer science principles that underlie all digital technologies. They’ll learn core programming concepts so that they can become creators of digital technology, not just users.

They will be Designing and Developing Digital Outcomes (learning how to design quality, fit-for-purpose digital solutions) because more and more people need digital technology skills and knowledge to succeed, whether making robots, be a politician, or a farmer. DT|HM is so that our learners become conscious users of the systems.

Again and I repeat the message

DT|HM is not about computers but is about how the digital world interacts with the human world.

What exactly is Digital Technology

Digital Technology is any technology that operates algorithms and uses digits to send messages” a key is to include storage (e.g. a mobile phone can store music, photos and maps as digits, as well as send them). It is any technology that uses digits to store and send information and operates algorithms on them. (e.g. My Fitbit tracking my personal health.)

What impact might DT|HM have on teacher practice?

Many teachers, schools, kura and Kāhui Ako are already making digital technologies learning part of their teaching programmes. This change ensures that all learners get these experiences, to prepare them for a world where digital skills are increasingly valuable to the economy and wider society. Use and understanding of DT|HM can lead to exponential learning.

Positives and negatives of DT|HM

I believe the positives of the draft is the focus on humans and social interaction rather than the technology.  I also really like that there is a separate one for Maori that incorporates Maori World View. However the challenge is developing teacher capabilities as fast as possible as there is a huge shortage in this area in schools. Therefore  professional development needs to be put in place across the sector to teach teachers how to engage their students with the subject. There is a fabulous site to help teachers begin the process of developing understanding around Computational thinking. This is Computer Science Unplugged (CS Unplugged). Yet still schools must find ways of upskilling teachers.

Whose voice is not currently not being heard?

Currently Maori and Pasifika are under represented in studying Digital Technology and in having success in this field. However they are consumers and creators of digital technology and so it is important that they also have access in schools.

Why is DT|HM important?

Technology is our 3rd largest earner and continues to have exponential growth for New Zealand.  By 2020  DT|HM  will be part of schools national curriculum.

Computational thinking will be at the same level of importance as reading, writing and mathematics and will be part of NCEA.

Computational thinking is about getting our learners to think big but without using computers. In order to do this they must understand the concept of algorithms. That is how many steps does it take to solve a problem so attention to detail and being persistent are important strategies to learn.  Algorithms have been around for a long time and the general principles will not change. What is important is that our children understand what is done to them. DT|HM is also that our children learn to create, think about other people, work with each other and develop spatial knowledge. We can do this by helping them to count, sequence, mix colours and develop spatial awareness. Diversity on the team must reflect the user.

We already know the jobs most likely to be exponentially affected by automation and as the saying goes, if teachers can be replaced by digital technologies then we should be.

So just to sum up.

Teachers need understanding to teach DT|HM especially in Computational Thinking and in designing and developing digital outcomes. DT|HM is not about computers but is about how the digital world interacts with the human world. DT|HM is not coming it is here and what is your school doing to ensure it is embedded in your learning by 2020?

As Kāhui Ako how do we ensure that our schools are ready for DT|HM and this is an area to consider when we update our achievement challenges because of its impact on learning.

Tidbits that were highlights for me.

  • Binary Code is still beyond me.
  • Computers search 1000,000,000,000 sites in 40 operations.
  • Cone cells in the fovea that detect colours only sees RBG.
  • Steganography is a a way of sending encoded messages. Here is a fabulous story explaining how.

Sites of interest

CS4HS https://www.cs4teachers.org.nz/events/series/cs4hs/

Computer Science without a computer http://cs-unplugged.appspot.com/en-gb/

Digital Technologies Hangarau Matihiko 

http://nzcurriculum.tki.org.nz/News/Digital-Technologies-Hangarau-Matihiko

Update

Currently the Ministry of Education are consulting with leaders, teachers and whānau about the the Draft of this Curriculum.  The consultation process will run until 3 September. They are particularly keen to hear from the education and technology sectors as well as parents, students and their whānau.

Feedback is welcomed and all submissions will be considered with a report back later this year, prior to the curriculum’s implementation in 2018.

Make a submission using the online survey tool 

Computational Thinking and the NZ Curriculum

EduCampAKL 2017

educamp

EducampAKL began in 2007 as an unconference and was first held at Epsom Girls College.

I attended my first educamp at Point England School in 2009. My memories from that day was meeting the fabulous Lenva Shearing and being introduced to wikispaces.

Over the years I have generally attended the Auckland venues with a couple of years where I went to Wellington for the WellyEd first one and drove to Rotorua for the Minecraft Educamp.

I have learnt so much from attending educamps and am continually surprised that not enough teachers find the time to attend a session in their own locations. Over the years I have managed to persuade teachers from my school to come with me. Partly because I believe they have much to share with the community. However that is still an ongoing discussion.

When I go I usually try and find ways of contributing however to move to this level has taken time and I must admit that during the first few years I would attend for what I would get out of the sessions. Here you can check out the smack down slides.

I like educamps for networking face to face with other educators. I always learn heaps of important information that could affect me, my school and my learners. I find out what is going on in other schools and I get to visit other schools to see what they are like.

This year EducampAkl was hosted at Papakura High on Saturday 29th July 2017. There were about 40 educators present. This year the smackdown session was live streamed. Not many views happened but I am never worried about that because I know that the benefit of live streaming is what happens after when the clip is available for rewinding. I created slides to explain what I did so if you are interested in having a go, it is quite an easy system to set up.

I attended Gerard’s session on CS unplugged and found what he had to share very interesting and timely for us as a school.  Gerard shared that children do not have to programme on a computer. We can be doing and are already doing a variety of activities that help children with their understanding such as

  • Writing instructions for other students because the demonstrates an understanding of sequencing.
  • Creating videos that show understanding of direction and of location.

He clarified that data representation is what can we do with data

  • How do we collect data?
  • How do we sort data using algorithm?
  • How do we verify data?

Gerard took us through parts of Unplugged 2nd version

He has a fabulous blog that I often visit to read and here you can find some of what he does. http://oneteachersview.blogspot.com/ Some of what he shared went over my head but that is OK because I know what I need to do to help learn more.

Some teachers wanted to know more about live streaming so I took them through youtube and google Hangouts.

Overall the purpose of EducampAkl is to bring educators together in an unconferenced way and the best people for sharing are whoever turns up on the day. Connections are made and some collaborations are set up. Some educators go on to create reflections or resources that are shared across the community. Fiona Grant is the overall organiser and archivist for the wiki. Generally different schools take up the challenge to host and organise the event on the day. Maybe one day our little school might have the space and parking to be a host.

I think that Educamps work well for professional learning and believe that all teachers need to add the annual event to their schedule of learning.

Linked In

tags

I was a little surprised to curate some of the labels that people have tagged me with on Linkedin. I have just over 600 followers in Linkedin and many have attached labels to me of what they believe I have strengths in. I am pleased to see Educational Leadership start to feature strongly as well as blended learning. I am also pleased to see instructional design begin to be acknowledged. However I am surprised to see that ConnectedEducator, ESOL, BilingualEducation, SOLOTaxonomy or Collaboration yet to come through. I would also like to add Citizenship and CyberSafety into that mix.

linkedin

So if you have collaborated with me on any of the following online spaces such as TeachMeetNZ, EdBookNZ, EdBlogNZ, Flat Connections are there any positive labels you think I also need to feature? You might have attended an ESOL session or a SOLOTaxonomy session with me and was inspired from the session and can think of some labels.

Maybe too if you are in the Linkedin space and you would like to write a recommendation on my Educator Profile, I would be really grateful. 

Some of you might be wondering how I created the label. I placed each label into a spreadsheet and populated it the number of time featured on Linkedin. Then I copied and pasted the list into wordle. I did not do all the labels because the numbers were too small.

Tama’āiga

tupua2
I read a wonderful tribute by Michael Field  to one of the most amazing academics that I met during my teaching career. Reading the tribute brought back a flood of memories.

His name is Tupua Tamasese Tupuola Tufuga Efi 

I knew him as Tupua and that is how I addressed him. As a child growing up in Samoa we knew the Tamasese family name because they lived up the road from us. My younger sister went to school with one of the boys. I also knew his name because he became prime minister of Samoa a few years after we emigrated to New Zealand.

As a young teacher I was so fortunate to get to first get to know  him when he agreed to be the plenary for our 2002 Ulimasao Bilingual Education Conference in Auckland.

I set up his webpage and this is what I wrote about him.

“Tupua studied law at Victoria University, New Zealand, before embarking on a long career in Samoan politics that spanned almost four decades to the present.  

He became prime minister twice, during which he had been an influential voice on issues concerning Samoa and the Pacific region. Part of Tupua’s present profile is his active involvement in scholastic learning, in his enormous capacity as an experienced politician and man of letters. Tupua has published three books, two in the Samoan language. Occasionally, Tupua is a guest lecturer in Victoria and Auckland universities respectively. Always in high demand for his views as a prolific bilingual speaker and scholar.”

He was our conference dinner speaker and the title was,  ‘In search of Meaning, Nuance and Metaphor.  I was the one chosen to introduce him when he spoke at another session. I was determined to do it in Samoan and so I did. I had heard the term tama’āiga to describe him and presumed it meant like an esteemed family member. However later on I realised how much more of a title that is.

I believe it was this speech that caught his attention because after that he made a point of making me sit with him and talk when I was serving him tea. As is typical Samoan he asked,  “O ai oe? O ai lou aiga. Fea lou nu’u?” (Who are you? Who are your parents and what is your background?)


When he found out who my mum was, then the stories began. He told me that he did not live far from her in Moto’otua where my mum grew up. We shared names and he told me that he knew my aunty Marina and her family and my cousin Patrick who still lives in Moto’otua. He asked me how come I could speak Samoan and I told him that mum insisted on us speaking le gagana at home even as we grew up in New Zealand. I also shared how I actively look for opportunities to speak and listen to Samoan such as through songs or on the radio. He asked me about church and I said that was more of a challenge because mass was always in palagi. He suggested that I  look for one that has a Samoan mass and even if I attended at least once a month to just listen and so I did.

Whenever I found out he was speaking in Auckland, I would find a way to get a ticket to hear him speak. He is an inspirational orator. I really admire him because of the way he instinctively knew that I wanted to practice my Samoan and would converse with me only in Samoan. My vocabulary exploded every time I heard him speak.

When I was in Samoa for the second Ulimasao conference in 2005, he asked me to introduce him to our travelling New Zealand plenary speaker Professor Stephen May and again it was about making connections. He wanted to learn more about our work with Bilingual Education. My cousin Tanya suggested that we sit in the front bar at Aggie’s Hotel and it was a perfect spot because the two academics had a chance to speak with each other and share their stories and of course I had a chance to just sit and listen.

During the time too of our second conference a group of us were invited to his house. My Aunty Marina schooled me up on etiquette before I went. This visit was where I met his beautiful wife, Filia for the first time. I also found out that she is a writer and orator too. Her work is where I got the inspiration for the header of my blog. (Lookup and you can see it.) From her I learnt all about the importance of service as a leader. Filia put on an incredible spread for us of traditional foods and we sat around talking and sharing stories. Again I was in awe sitting with the academics listening to their stories. However on reflection I can now see the importance of always growing the next generation. Again that is something that I now find myself doing.

What struck me most from that visit was the collection of photos that he had documenting Samoan history and the high balcony around his house.

Soon after that my Grandmother Matala’oa passed away and Tupua wrote a heartwarming tribute for her that we read at her funeral. I was so grateful that he took the time to commemorate our own family treasure. I have included this below.

Matala’oa Thompson    (Tusia e Tuiatua Tupua Tamasese _ Samoa – 16 May 2004)

O le matua o la’u fe’au: o le faiva o le Matala’oa e tiu ma afifi.  Pe atonu o le mafuaaga lea o le suafa o le tama’ita’i;  ona o le muafetalaiga e faasino iā Falealili, o se tasi o nuu o le latou aiga.  Ma e masani ā ona faatūtū i le alofa o le matua e faamaopoopo ma aputi lona faiva aua le fanau ma le aiga, o loo faatali mai i se nuu e mamao i uta.

Sa ou iloa Matala’oa ona e nonofo i ga’uta atu o lo matou aiga.  E masani ona usu mai i le taeao i le Misasa i Mulivai ma toe fo’i i lo latou aiga.  Ae ou te le’i mafuta tele i ai vagana ona ua matua.

O mea nei ou te mātauina.  E tāua iā te ia le gagana Samoa.  E tāua iā te ia, o ia o le Samoa. E ma’eu lana gagana aemaise sa ou manatu, ona e nofo i le papalagi ma e nonofo ā lo latou aiga i Leififi, sa fa’ita e ave le faamuamua i le gagana Peretania. E ola lona mafaufau ma e ma’eu lona taofi o mea sa tutupu, tainane ua matua ona tausaga.

A talanoa mai, e talanoa lava o ia o le tinā faamaoni.  E talanoa fiafia ma sanisani.  O le talanoa a le tinā o loo teu afīfī le faiva e faasoa mai i lana fanau.  E le gata i ē na ifo mai i lona manava, ae soo se tama fanau a Samoa.

Ou te manatua pea ia i lona talanoa mai faale-matua iā te a’u.  Ma ou te manatua fo’i lona igoa ma le muafetalaiga e fai iā Falealili:  O le tiu a le matala’oa, e tiu ma afīfī.  Ou te lagona ma le agaga faafetai, o a’u o se tasi o tama fanau Samoa na ia faasoa mai i ai lona faiva.

Soifua.

When Tupua became Head of States of Samoa in 2007 and Filia his Masiofo. I thought about how appropriate this was because they are keepers of our stories and our history. When you read Michael’s Tribute you can see how far Tupua’s spread is. In keeping with Samoan tradition I also think about Filia because behind every successful man sits a strong woman. I also see their time serving our beautiful island as part of our our Samoan genealogy.

To both Tupua and Filia I wish you all the best in your golden years and I look forward to more of your writing and talks. You have so much to share and we still have a lot to learn from you both.