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 “I’ve experienced racism and discrimination. I was made to believe there were certain subjects that I should focus on at school and nothing else. I left school at the age of 16 because I didn’t feel valued in class.”

“More Pacific teachers: Yes, probably most important for me as I believe the more we have in the system, the more propensity for change.” Niuean parent

Are these important to you?

  • There is strong support for all of the areas identified – particular mentions of focusing on racism, getting more Pacific teachers and supporting families
  • Racism identified as systemic so the response must come by changing the system – including how success is defined. We also need to arm students to call it out. It all starts with examining your own bias.
  • Need for home – school partnerships to be more reciprocal. One comment that lack of engagement from parents is a result of colonisation and we need to show parents they are valued and so too is their language and culture.
  • Education opportunities should be co-designed in a way that considers the needs of all Pacific groups (i.e. small island atolls share similar geographical issues of remoteness with other Pacific Island nations but a different scale of exposure to the climate change challenge problem).  For example, the Tuvaluan experience of education in NZ is different to other Pacific groups because a lot of Tuvaluan people generally carry the “over stayer” immigration status.  These issues can impact the Tuvaluan learner in that they cannot access education opportunities beyond compulsory schooling. 
  • Bilingual pathways are important for greater cultural understanding but there is a dire need for more language resources and this needs strong community support
  • There needs to be a deliberate strategy to encourage and attract Pacific people into teaching, not just ‘hope’.
  • Some suggestions that targeted support should start early – Primary school and early learning where it is most critical 

Is there something missing? What would you change about the areas?

  • Palagi teachers need to be re-educated on how to be culturally responsive & eliminate teacher bias
  • The six professional standards from the teaching council should be a mandated requirement to keep teachers accountable for addressing the needs of Pacific learners, like the way Māori are recognised.
  • Pacific qualifications have been devalued over time and eventually discontinued.
  • Need to see data on current numbers of Pacific teachers and what our goal is for raising this and data on bilingualism
  • Enhancing public awareness of Tapasā
  • Working out a way to value cultural expertise and knowledge that sits in the community
  • People generally want more detail regarding what these changes would look like, what the data is that sits behind them to inform the direction etc.
  • This question has largely been interpreted as what people would change if they were going to addressing these areas – i.e. “More Pacific teachers – create incentives”
  • A few comments about paying Early Childhood teachers more fairly
  • Bilingual education (or immersion education service types) requires ECE teachers who can teach through a second language in order for the children to become bilingual.  This is a problem because most Samoan immersion centres are staffed by women over 55 years of age who are either not qualified or are having to make sacrifices in order to become qualified.  We need to create opportunities for Pacific teachers who are fluent in a Pacific language to consider teaching at ECE bilingual or immersion education centres.   


  • Questioning why we don’t address IELTS issue if we want more Pacific teachers. Immersion and bilingual suffering because of this barrier.
  • Who is measuring cultural competence of teachers?
  • How are we supporting Pacific 'over stayer' students to access learning?
  • Does the budget funding contribute to these areas?
  • How do we arm our kids to attack racism and discrimination?
  • How is accountability going to be introduced? What would this look like?

Most common indicators of success (in order)

  • There are strong relationships between Pacific families and place of education
  • Non Pacific educators can teach Pacific learners in a way that values their cultures
  • Pacific learners’ faith and beliefs and cultures are valued in education
  • Pacific learners and their families are free from racism and discrimination in education
  • Pacific learners can learn in their language throughout their education
  • Pacific learners have the skills to succeed in the workforce
  • There are no financial barriers to accessing education for Pacific learners and families

West Auckland Fono Summary [PDF]