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Jeanne Teisina, Akoteu Kateu Kato Kakal Manager 10.10.22

Tongan Preschool Manager, Jeanna Teisina writes on continued revitalisation & maintenance of the Tongan language. Jeanne shares with us how COVID- 19 changed the landscape of early childhood education within her community.

"...Akoteu Kato Kakala plays a big role in building strong learning foundations for our Tongan/Pasifika children in Aotearoa to thrive as competent and confident learners..."

Akoteu Kato Kakala was built on the aspirations of revitalisation and maintenance of cultural language and heritage for our fanau and tamariki growing up in Aotearoa NZ.

The Akoteu Kato Kakala (AKK) vision began as a playgroup in a garage in Māngere 23 years ago by my mother Meleane Pau'uvale.

COVID 19 era, will most definitely go down in history as a time to remember. COVID 19 changed the landscape of Early Childhood Education (ECE) and the Education Sector forever, bringing a new realisation for us. We have been involved in ECE for over twenty years and we would say that although there had been changes in our professions in terms of policies and practices, we definitely weren't prepared for this covid19 pandemic. We were used to the routines and the 'certainties' of time and place until Covid-19 arrived and it placed a different perspective on ECE as we suddenly went into lockdown. The resilience of our Pacific people has demonstrated their strengths and potential that we never anticipated.

Akoteu Kato Kakala plays a big role in building strong learning foundations for our Tongan/Pasifika children in Aotearoa to thrive as competent and confident learners. While there may be external factors impacting the way we practice as teachers that are outside of our control such as COVID-19, a lesson learnt is not to let that affect nor jeopardise the children's access to quality education, especially for our Tongan Pasifika children in Aotearoa. The reward for us was fulfilled when our fānau returned with smiling faces after lockdown, because for them we were always there not in persons but in spirit. We never left their sides, our faces and voices were still present in their homes through these connections of vā (online programmes/curriculum/prayers/daily zoom/delivering of wellbeing packs etc) – WE ARE STILL PRESENT!

Written by Jeanne Teisina

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