NPS, ECE together with RockSteady launch Niumataola and Tama Niue Projects last Friday

RockSteady and Niumataola Project Manager Glen Jackson (Left) and ECE Principal O'Love Hekesi (right)

In efforts to revitalize Vagahau Niue and to create innovative ways for parents to learn and teach their young children at home, RockSteady Entertainment together with Niue Primary School (NPS) and Early Childhood Education (ECE) were able to launch the Niumataola Potaaga Tala Niue Project and Tama Niue Play Hub Project.  

Each project is distinct from one another with unique purposes targeted for children in ECE. However, both were funded and initiated by Plan International Australia and New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (NZ MFAT).

Special guests who attended the launch last Friday included Acting Premier Hon. Sauni Tongatule, Alofi North MP Va’aiga Tukuitonga, NZHC Representative Nigel Ewels and Australian High Commissioner H.E. Louise Ellerton. 

A short and sweet programme which showcased the work put together for each project.

Niumataola Project – Potaaga Tala Niue

Niue is one of three Pacific countries selected to pilot an early childhood educational project along with Samoa and the Solomon Islands. 

In 2020, BCN was approached by Australia Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) as well as NPS and ECE as the initial partners to the project .

After several months of negotiations and looking for donors, the project was finally approved to produce for radio, a children’s programme modelled on the ABC television programme Playschool but importantly to promote the use of the island’s language, targeting children from 5 years or in early childhood. 

With funding by NZ MFAT, the project was finally approved to be implemented by an Australian non-governmental organisation called Plan International Australia to work with local media production company RockSteady Entertainment. 

BCN News was able to speak with the RockSteady and Niumataola Project Manager and Producer Glen Jackson on Tuesday this week who shared more about the initial start of the project.

“Middle of last year, approached by Plan International Australia and they are an agency that looks after the welfare and education of indigenous stories in Australia. They wanted to partner with NZ MFAT in regards to having Niue to create local content and to capture and archive traditional stories. They wanted someone who would not just manage the project but to also produce it as well. And so Rocksteady was able to do that.”

Since March this year, Glen has been working closely with the programme’s featured voices Lavea Puheke and Jessica Sionetuato Pavihi to bring the project to life.

The project was also brought together with the help of knowledgeable and well-spoken Vagahau Niue mentors on the island who brought about the name Niumataola. 

The project includes ten episodes which are thirty minutes long. The episodes will be spread over the next few months and will be aired on Radio Sunshine every day from 3pm. 

RockSteady Entertainment will also be making the episodes available on Youtube and Facebook which include visuals as well as subtitles in Vagahau Niue aimed for the learning of the young children. 

Creating local content was something that Glen has been passionate about and the project gave him the opportunity to bring that passion to life in a way that promoted the use of Vagahau Niue for the young children through digital platforms but also for himself which he acknowledges his lack in the language. 

“The digital future is already here. We need to take advantage of these platforms and to not be afraid of it but to take advantage of how we can push our own Vagahau, our culture, our heritage into the future by embracing the digital platform. And the future is literally here in Niue for us.”

Glen hopes that this project will not only benefit the targeted age group of children five years of age but also for anyone who may be lacking and wanting to learn and strengthen their Vagahau Niue through these episodes which share the traditional stories of Niue. 

Tama Niue Project – Play Hub 

Also last Friday was the launch of the Tama Niue Play Hub Project which was managed and produced by NPS and ECE. 

According to ECE Principal and one of the project leaders O’Love Hekesi, there are three key purposes of the Tama Niue Project. 

  1. Parent Cards (created by teachers with the help of the donors)

“The parent cards have activities, child development areas, things that parents need to know. The activities are to help them also to promote learning in the home.”

“If ever we were to have a lockdown from Covid, we shouldn’t have any problems at ECE on how we can promote learning in the home because the parent cards have activities that can keep you, the parent and your children occupied during that time of lockdown.”

  1. Creating Learning Materials and Toy making

“The advantage of the learning materials is not that you can make it for free but it’s less costly to make the learning materials. And we are able to also use the local knowledge of our young parents.”

  1. Encourage the dads

“Encourage them to take their children to the play groups, to be part of the learning and we also encourage them, because the play groups open once a week, we encourage them to take their children once a week to the play groups.”

O’Love says the Tama Niue project began a few months ago with Niue Primary School Principal Carol Edwards as the project manager along with herself and the teachers of ECE as part of the project committee.  

They were also able to hold training via Zoom sessions with the donors in order to produce the project. 

O’Love hopes that this project will encourage parents to create innovative learning activities for their children at a time when schools will have to shift to remote learning due to Covid-19.

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