McAuley High School comes to build sense of Samoan identity

McAuley High School have come to Samoa in the name of strengthening their sense of national identity - and it's not a task they are taking lightly. 

The High School from south Auckland, New Zealand are in Samoa for a cultural fellowship with the village of Matautu Falelatai over White Sunday on October 13. 

Before that they are making the most of their stay by visiting as much of Samoa as possible and engaging with schools and villages, the National University of Samoa, the home of the elderly at Mapu i Fagaele, museums and Savai'i.

On Friday, the travelling group were treated to an ava ceremony hosted by the National University of Samoa as well as a cultural performances from two schools at the university. 

A Samoan teacher, Tauanu'u Seali'imalietoa Sitagata, who has been teaching for more than 16 years at the school says more than 80 people have come on the trip this year: 40 students, 30 parents, and 11 teachers.

"This is our eighth trip to Samoa, we come every two years," he said.

"In 2017, we had a fellowship with Iva; in 2015, we [partnered] with Manase; and 2013 we had a fellowship with Salelologa."

Tauanu'u said the purpose of the trip is to witness the culture in Samoa first hand, entertain, experience the cooking, participate in White Sunday and take a broader view of Samoa.

"After White Sunday at Matautu Falelatai, then our fellowship kicks off," he said.

"The students always enjoy the abundance of knowledge they return with whenever we come here about the life of a Samoan, especially within families.

"It's the impact of church, and it's influences also which is important for us also over there (New Zealand).

"It's really about strengthening the identity of a Samoan teenager, in terms of manners and speaking, and especially doing traditional speeches."

Tauanu'u has been teaching for about 40 years and was originally an English teacher but has changed to Samoan studies in order to teach his mother tongue to younger generations in New Zealand.

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