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Woodstock School wins Samoan Language Week Award

Press Release – UNESCO

Woodstock Primary School’s week-long celebration of the Samoan language has seen the Hamilton school win the inaugural Air NZ Award for Best Samoan Language Week Event 2010.Woodstock Primary School wins Air NZ Samoan Language Week Award

Woodstock Primary School’s week-long celebration of the Samoan language has seen the Hamilton school win the inaugural Air NZ Award for Best Samoan Language Week Event 2010.

Hundreds of events celebrating gagana Samoa or the Samoan language took place in schools, churches, sports grounds and homes throughout New Zealand from the 30th May to the 5th June 2010. 

Samoan Language Week aimed to promote the learning of Samoan by Samoan New Zealanders as well as other New Zealanders.   This year the Human Rights Commission, NZ National Commission for UNESCO and FAGASA (Fa’alāpotopotoga mo le A’oa’oina o le Gagana Sāmoa i Aotearoa / Association for the Teaching of Samoan in Aotearoa) helped organise the week and select the inaugural Air NZ Award winner.

“Selecting the best Samoan Language Week event was incredibly difficult as we had more events than ever before,” says Race Relations Commissioner, Joris de Bres.

“Woodstock School stood out because even though people of Samoan heritage make up a small percentage of the local community –families, teachers and students embraced Samoan and celebrated it throughout the week.”

Language based activities including art, song and dance were incorporated into Woodstock School’s curriculum throughout the week .  Celebrations culminated in Friday’s assembly that saw many students from a wide range of cultural backgrounds come to school in Samoan dress and perform cultural items.  The hall was also decorated with the lavalava prints each class had designed and painted.

“Working out how to fasten a Samoan feather “sei” onto a student’s traditional, Muslim “hijab” was just one of  the fun experiences of the day,” says Mr de Bres.

“The achievements of this small school need to be acknowledged and celebrated.”

Woodstock School has a parent cultural support group whose members worked alongside teaching staff to manage the week.  Principal Steve Ostermann says even though the local Samoan population is small organisers felt it was important to promote a language and culture that is very important to New Zealand.

“This has been a week in which some of our exceptional parents have blown us away with their passion and commitment for Samoan: they are truly outstanding ambassadors,” says Mr Ostermann.

“Our Woodstock students are now more aware of a new culture and language thanks to our parent cultural support group.”

This year Samoan Language Week organisers were delighted with the outstanging support given from Air New Zealand – a free trip for to to Samoa ex-Auckland.

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