Te Kete Ipurangi Navigation:

Te Kete Ipurangi

Te Kete Ipurangi user options:

You are here:

Pasifika giftedness: Media gallery

Identifying giftedness at St Pauls' College

A Pasifika teacher outlines the process of how he uses the cultural identifiers for giftedness and applies these identifiers to students that he teaches. The Pasifika teacher also shared his presentation of the process and an explanation of gifted and talented Pasifika students.



In terms of identifying gifted Pasifika students at St Pauls I found it very useful in the past just identifying gifted students has been based purely based on academic success so in terms of the projects and identifying giftedness in the Pasifika sense has definitely kinda opened my eyes to that there are other ways of identifying giftedness not just within the classroom, but particularly in terms of linking Polyfest with academic success -  just looking at giftedness in a whole new light.

I think in terms of shifting my thinking I do always have high expectation of my students but I think just kinda reinforcing that and because here we have streamed classes I think sometimes there is that assumption that the lower streams may not have the same motivation as the higher band. Particularly identifying Pasifika giftedness you know shows that high expectations don’t just apply to those that are in the higher streams but also those in the lower bands.

Yeah in terms of the cultural identifiers that we identified, I think the three that really applied to our school were leadership, commitment to excellence and also church affiliation. We are a catholic school, but in saying that, there are a lot of boys who aren’t catholic, but they have a strong church affiliation so particularly there are a lot of boys who are strongly involved in their church and have a lot of strong church commitments, and particularly with leadership, obviously we have the prefect system here at school, but also for the boys who have quite a strong church affiliation they do have leadership roles within their churches, which we don’t always see at school, but outside of school they have those leadership roles as well, and particularly in the last couple of years in term of our school goals has been to raise achievement, and being a predominantly Pasifika school, our aim has obviously been to raise the achievement of Pasifika boys, so commitment to excellence is something that we’ve developed quite strongly in the past couple of years, and the boys have shown that and it’s been reflected in their results.

Yeah, so at the VPLD Hui, we were given the opportunity to speak to the other people at the conference and I was able to, we were able to, do interviews with our three identified gifted students, Pasifika students, so for that PowerPoint, we shared a PowerPoint where we asked a couple of specific questions in terms of the student voice, so  just asking them questions about how their culture affected them within the classroom, how they were able to relate positive aspects of their culture relating it to their success at school and also the way they apply it to their daily lives at school. It just allowed us to show others an example of what Pasifika students feel and think about their culture and how it relates to them at school. It’s something that they obviously always think about but it’s not necessarily always shown or discussed so I think a big positive with that is that they were able to discuss it openly and honestly.

Student explains his giftedness

A Pasifika student who is able to articulate how his cultural identifiers for giftedness contribute to his world as a learner and how his gifts can be used to help others who rely on him as a role model.



Two identifiers I have been labelled under, is leadership and commitment to excellence. To me it shows me that, it’s not that the bar is too high, and you can’t reach it, it’s that the bar is too low, and it’s too easy to reach. So to me it’s I need to really have smart goals. Being renowned as a gifted leader here at school comes with great humility and expectations. One of the things I love doing here at school is to help others and to guide them. Being a Prefect you gotta be both academically and socially. One of the key factors of being a prefect is you’ve got to learn how to serve, and that’s part of my job as a leader to help others and I can’t do this without my net-group support such as the teachers, my friends and my family. They help me a lot and they also encourage and inspire me with my decisions ‘cause one part of being a leader is you’re self-motivated, you’re able to make your own decisions by yourself.

One of the other leadership roles that I have is church leadership. Being a leader at church, helping out with the youth, looking after little kids. You know, I obviously have that role and expectations to be an example, be a role model for the little kids and some of the students my age, and even the older generation, you know they are looking down at us and expecting us to do the right things.

So being a real good leader comes with expectations, and also the humility. Some examples of commitment to excellent here at school for me, is say for example, my academic work. Sometimes I fail papers. For me, I have to understand and it’s understandable that you do fail a lot, but it only fuels me to aim higher, to work harder, to achieve my goals. For example, outside of school my family mum and dad look up to me to be one of those leaders, when I fail their expectations, it fuels me up to persevere, to meet their expectations, whether it’s at school or at even at my jobs I do at home and you know how I act as a son, or even as a leader here at school. One way I’ll teach the juniors, the younger ones, how to get excellences, whether it’s outside school or in their school work, is that you won’t achieve anything if you don’t work hard and it’s that struggle that you have to suffer through it, cause from suffering comes success.

Being labelled a gifted Pasifika student for me, it comes with great humility. In terms of me wanting to excel, it shows me that I am capable of it, and to me I can also share that to my other Pasifika students, my other brothers, that we too can excel, wherever we want to be, whether it’s being a doctor, or going to university.


The Gifted and Talented Coordinator shares her story about how her involvement with the Pasifika Achievement Coordinator in the Digi Advisor project. The Digi Advisor project helped affirm what Pasifika initiatives the school already had in place to support their Pasifika learners.



Today we’re doing our video diary, I guess, and that’s a reflective tool, which has made me think about what we have achieved so far. So we’ve been working with Manu, Stephanie and I, about how, kind of to enhance our understanding about the Pasifika students at our school. So what we’ve done is we have surveyed the students and we’ve also surveyed their parents to try and understand their notions of giftedness from a Pasifika point of view. And so we’re hoping that will help us to understand the learner better, and therefore, meet their needs. And we’re hoping to understand what values, what Pasifika value, to acknowledge the knowledge that they value, as well, so that we can meet their needs and to really extend students and to help connect with them.

I think the experience that Stephanie and I have gone through, it’s helped us understand the learner, and I think all teachers would benefit from that because we’ve got a student-centred pedagogy, and it helps us to understand where the kids are coming from to provide context which they can connect to, and I think from that students can achieve more highly and to express what they do, know, and understand and to show us what they can do.

Going through this process I’ve found it’s made me more confident to continue engaging with the community. So it’s been really beneficial getting the parents on board, and getting the student voice and that’s something we want to build on. And one thing I also found out was the things that were already happening. So things like the Pasifika Homework Centre, and getting the tutors in to help with Samoan language. So for me, as the gifted and talented coordinator, it’s about acknowledging what is already there and what we can build on. One of the highlights really is getting that voice from the kids and the parents and building that community and for us understanding what’s happening and what needs to happen, again so that the kids can have that more authentic learning experience.


An Auckland Girls Grammar School Samoan language teacher and a non-Pasifika music teacher collaborated on a consensus approach to see which cultural identifiers applied to Pasifika students they taught mutually. The Samoan language teacher acknowledges the value of having a process to identify gifted and talented Pasifika students, providing another avenue or lens to view how Pasifika learners can translate their particular strengths into classroom learning and achievement.



One of the reasons why I drive towards excellence is for my parents. And I hope that all the things that I do, all the things I try and achieve, can be a testament to all their hard work and the times of adversity they’ve been through.

Well, firstly, I’m one of the head girls at AGS, and not only am I a representative for the students at AGS, but especially the pacific island population. There are lots of stereotypes regarding pacific islanders and I want to be a positive representation, and we have a lot of potential to achieve great things. My role as Head Girl, we are constantly on the run and we’re always needed everywhere. You know, one teacher wants you for this reason, and another teacher wants you for this reason, and you know, we go and promote the school, and we try and be positive representatives of AGS, and also when it comes to Pacific Island meetings, I’m always the one called upon to walk with parents, or to just be a presence, a positive presence to other students, and I guess, all my peers.

Something big I have learned at AGS is that no matter what comes your way, if things don’t go your way, if things don’t turn out the way you want them to it’s just always getting back up and stay motivated. I don’t mean to sound so clichéd, but that school motto, “Per Angusta Ad Augusta,” “Through Trials, Triumph,” and I hold that really close to my heart, cause whenever I find myself in situations that I’d rather not be in, I find myself, you know, trying to find some sort of way to motivate myself and especially my parents always being there for me, and friends at school as well. You always there’s support or a form of, I guess, drive, so that you can always keep moving forward and I think that’s something I learned from AGS and home, is that just keep moving forward, and never giving up.

Lineage and birthright / representation

An Epsom Girls Grammar School student discusses two specific cultural identifiers: lineage and birthright that pertain to her upbringing from her family. Notions of cultural identifiers for giftedness are found in the home, and this Tongan student articulates how family and cultural values are used as a foundation to accelerate her learning and achievement at school.



Hi my name is Sela Finau, and I’ll be talking to you about what I think identifies me as a Pacific Islander that is gifted. One of the first things was my lineage and birthright, and this includes obedience, humility and respect. A key example for obedience is especially as a Tongan girl, we have to show our elders and those superior to us a different kind of respect and a different kind of obedience. For example, if I was in a classroom, and my teacher told me to do something, then I’d have obey them straight away just because they, in my belief, hold more superiority than I do and they know what they’re talking about. They are wiser, they have been here longer, we all belong somewhere and we all come from somewhere, and our past defines us. And those our ancestors and those that came before us, they identify who we are today, because without them we wouldn’t be here. Like, my Tongan values, my family’s Tongan values, everything about me is Tongan, so I identify myself as a Tongan. If you know where you came from and you know what you are here to do like, then you can apply that in school. Like for example, when I moved here to New Zealand I knew that it was for my education. And  I knew that if I came here and mucked around then my parents time, my time would be wasted so there’s no point in try to, trying to not try my best because if I didn’t try my best then what was the point of us moving here. I think that it can be applied in school because I think if you’re motivated and you know what you’re here to do then, you’ll be fine, like you know your purpose in this life and you know your purpose at this school.

Obedience for me is quite big because in my family you have to be obedient, no matter if your parents are wrong or right. Like you don’t have a say in saying, “Oh no Mum. I think that’s wrong!” like you have to accept whatever your parents say, like, you have to accept what their verdict of what your actions are. Even though sometimes that can be a disadvantage, I also think that is can build your respect towards others. So for I wouldn’t, for example, I probably have never argued with a teacher because I’ve learnt that from respect from my parents I can apply that to those in the classroom and those who are superior to me.

Relationships? Are…they’re difficult, but I think that you can attain the right kind of relationship. Then you’ll be successful for example, in Polyfest, I was able to become a role model to those girls around me.  And that definitely not only boosted my confidence but it also boosted their confidence because that if they saw someone like them achieving so highly then I think they try a bit more to reach their own goals.  If I succeeded in something then I’d want the girls around me to try and, I don’t know, to get inspired to do their best. Because, to be honest, at the moment a lot of girls aren’t reaching their full potential, and think that with the right person, or the right role model then they could probably fulfil their potential.

Language enhancing the achievement of Pasifika |  Pasifika Education Plan |  Effective teaching for Pasifika students – Strategies for success |  Effective teaching for Pasifika students – Working with students |  Effective teaching for Pasifika students – Stories |  Pasifika and e-Learning |  Engaging with Pasifika parents, families, and communities