The implementation of a junior Samoan language programme in a South Island, New Zealand secondary school context.

Year: 2017

Author: Bland, Angela

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The task of making change in a New Zealand secondary school involves multiple layers of negotiation; including with students, parents, teachers, middle and senior management. As a middle leader, a Head of Department for English as an additional language in a New Zealand secondary school, I have become a participant in my own research trying to make change for Pasifika languages in New Zealand.
The Pasifika Education Plan aims to have 'Five out of five Pasifika learners participating, engaging and achieving in education, secure in their identities, languages and cultures and contributing fully in Aotearoa New Zealand's social, cultural and economic well-being' (Ministry of Education, 2013), and the Pasifika Languages Framework's vision is 'Pacific languages are flourishing' (Ministry for Pacific Peoples, 2012). Harvey (2015) notes that the passive voice is often used in each of the two documents to avoid the 'who' will be doing something, and the role of government is ambiguous. This 'passiveness' is juxtaposed with the fact that New Zealand still does not have a National Languages Policy, despite such recent initiatives as the Auckland Languages' Strategy (Auckland City Council, 2015). Consequently and ultimately whether a high school supports or perpetuates subtractive bilingualism or additive bilingualism (Cummins, 1994) is entirely their choice, knowingly or not.
This research project, as indicated, is participatory action research with a social-constructivist framework which aims to look at a journey of the implementation of New Zealand's most common Pasifika language; Samoan, in a South Island secondary school. The South Island has only 7.1% of the entire Pasifika population in New Zealand. The overarching research question is: What are the challenges and effects of the implementation of a junior Samoan language programme in a South Island secondary school context? The findings show a degree of success the implementation has had and why this has occurred, while at the same time exposing subtractive bilingualism and numerous barriers. The effects of the programme is explained through the concept of building a Pasifika village. The school has seen the potential of the village and we have concluded it is a better to actively, rather than, passively, continue the journey