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Bilingual book keeps students connected

Published: 1 June 2021

A bilingual Samoan-English book by students at Ōtara’s Tangaroa College shares how they keep connected to their culture while living in Aotearoa New Zealand.

The book, titled La’u Penina Tautele My Pearl of Great Price, is funded by Auckland Council Libraries and contains stories written by senior students who have recently arrived from Samoa.

The stories range from describing objects of significance through to memories of home. 

The project was led by Tangaroa teacher, author and publisher David Riley, also known as the Reading Warrior.

Year 10 student Petala Nanai says she enjoyed working on the project and hopes that this book will help Samoan youth cherish their roots.

“Wherever in the world you go, you're always going to be Samoan,” Petala says.

Tangaroa College teacher, Debbie Riley says the students who took part in this writing project have faced many challenges as migrants to Aotearoa, with one of the main ones being English literacy.

“Working together on this book has enabled the students to explore the act of writing in English, while at the same time celebrating their identity and the beauty of their culture.”

Having the stories translated into Samoan means that the book can also be enjoyed by the wider Samoan community. 

Auckland Council Libraries has recently launched a publication strategy to encourage more community-based stories to be shared through the library network.

Councillor Alf Filipaina, Chair of the Parks, Arts, Community and Events Committee, highlights the importance of growing the library collection to better reflect Tāmaki Makaurau.

“A lot of reading material comes from places like the US and the UK. We want to see more content that reflects Aotearoa and the incredible stories and people who call here home.”

Auckland Council Libraries Publishing Partnership Lead, Anne-Marie Shepherd agrees:

“We are committed to supporting the sharing of diverse perspectives in our communities and increasing the amount of Pasifika content available.

“Our goal is to see more content in our libraries that our communities can relate to.”

The book will be launched at Tupu Library in Ōtara at 6pm on Friday 4 June where the book will be available to the public to borrow.

Read more: Libraries Community

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