New books including bilingual dictionary unveiled

Samoan artist, poet and author Papali'i Momoe Malietoa von Reiche has unveiled a bilingual dictionary and a book titled "O le pusi peti", thanks to funding support from the Australian High Commission’s Direct Aid Programme [DAP].

The books were launched at the MADD Gallery at Motootua on Tuesday morning and are published and made available online by Moabooks, which is a Samoan-based language resource organisation.

Papali'i expressed her gratitude to the Australian Government for its support through the Australian High Commission’s D.A.P.

"This is particularly exciting to have these books printed, and specifically I would like to thank the Australian government for their Development Aid Programme which enabled us to print and publish these books and also our posters in Australia," Papali'i said at the books’ unveiling.

"When you publish a children's book, there is so much process that goes into it that by the end of the time we get the book out we all celebrate.

"You have to go through the author first, to discuss with them, how do they feel what level of childhood that we are aiming this book for and whether we can break it down and make the words simpler or make it to suit the audience that the author is aiming for."

Papalii explained that the book "O le pusi peti" is an adaptation of the song "Pusi nofo”, which she said is sung by choirs all over the world, and people have asked her about the song's meaning.

This led to her undertaking research into the song, thus the publishing of the book titled "O le pusi peti" with the illustrations done by her Australian-based colleague, Adrian Harris.

"It took so long but finally this little book came about and I am so proud of it. It's nothing much to look at but it is a very powerful learning tool particularly for early readers," she added. 

The importance of bilingualism and its connection to early childhood education was also highlighted with Papali'i saying her teaching experiences showed that children will not understand what you are discussing unless there is bilingual education.

"When they do understand both languages, they really accelerate, they accelerate in their learning, they move faster and are more aware of things around them.

"This is why I would like to thank my colleagues here, Marj, Sister Vitolia, Judy and other educators that are here with us today. Thank you always for your support, you are always supporting what I do here, you're supporting literacy in our country and the little things we do here just to support that child that needs our attention, specifically for our language."

Speaking on behalf of the Australian government, the Deputy High Commissioner Julia Wheeler, said they have provided support to community organisations and groups in Samoa through the D.A.P.

"This includes support to many education initiatives and as Papali'i has said it is no secret that a good education has the power to change a life," she said.

"Australia has committed AU$13 million over the next five years to support the Government of Samoa to improve its education sector. In addition through the Direct Aid Programme we have supported education projects with the aim to improve and develop the educational needs of communities in Samoa.

"These projects have included building water sanitation and hygiene facilities for the schools and providing educational resources to enable productive teaching and learning environments in schools, particularly in rural communities. 

“Australia is very proud to partner with Samoa to make sure that children develop the skills they need. Australia and Samoa have stood together and supported each other through bushfires, measles and now COVID-19 and we are blessed to be here today to celebrate the successful completion of the MADD Gallery Direct Aid Programme Project.”

Ms Wheeler also congratulated the MADD Gallery on the project and emphasised that the Australian government was pleased to support it.

"I would like to conclude by congratulating the MADD Gallery on this wonderful project and we are certainly very pleased to be able to support it and I hope you are able to continue to develop readers such as this to share lots of wonderful stories in the Samoan language."

Papali'i told the Samoa Observer that the books will be made available to schools in Samoa but due to the COVID-19 global pandemic lockdown, they have only managed to bring a few into the country.

Briefly speaking on the bilingual dictionary, she said it is an educational tool in both English and Samoan, which is important for children during these times and she advised all teachers to translate everything for the children to better understand.

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