Rev. Paulo Ieriko took the pleasure into putting together our history, laying out the foundation of Aiga Salevalasi; having been there step by step through the creation of one the first Samoan preschool's in New Zealand. Also Paulo Ieriko will mention a heap of names who gave great support to get Aiga Salevalasi A'oga Amata where it is today.
A brief history of The Aiga Salevalasi A'oga Amata
Informal talks and discussions on the possibility of starting a language Nest for Samoan Preschoolers began in 1988. One of the motivating factors at the time was the emergence of the Kohanga Reo movement in New Zealand that sought to promote the Maori language and culture and which established one of its first learning centres in Wainuiomata in 1982.
Mrs. Lusia Aiavao from the Early Childhood Development Unit in Epsom Auckland coordinated a meeting with interested community parents on the future of a Pacific Island Language Nest in West Auckland. Those present at the meeting held in New Lynn on 9 June 1989 were:
-Ivapene Ieriko, Velonika Semau, Faatauala Tuigamala, Filifili Fesolai, Penitala Leuta, Mautaaga Tupai, Seaso Pulelisi Ahmed, Vailili Salima, Rev. Elisara Levao, Rev. Paulo Ieriko.
One of the chief concerns expressed by all the participants was that the next generation of Samoan and Pacific people in New Zealand was in danger of losing the ability to speak the language of their parents and grandparents. The natural flow on from this would be an indifference to the culture of their forefathers, which will ultimately lead to a generation lacking a sense of identity because of this disconnect with their historical roots.
This hope was that by experiencing their own language and culture in a caring environment, children would develop a sense of pride in who they are, and in turn become attracted to positive learning relationship with one another and with staff as well as having support from parents and families.
The language Nest (as ECE Centers were once called) was based initially at 30 Nikau Street New Lynn which used to be a small Anglican Church. It was then moved to a Class room at the New Lynn Primary School for a short period of time and then to 4 Tutuki Street Waterview - a small garage of one of the parents Mr. and Mrs. Salima Utumapu.
A successful application to the Ministry of Education enabled the Language Next to find a new home at the grounds of Glen Eden Primary School where a new purpose built building was completed at the end of 1991 and officially opened in 1992. The Principal John Wilmot and the Board of Glen Eden Primary School at the time were very generous in their offer of the section of land for us to lease.
A bold new venture saw a group of children, staff and parents travel to Samoa in September 1999 during the Teuila Festival. The local community were amazed at the fluency of our Preschoolers' in the Samoa language during an evening performance at the Festival.
In December 2013 we appreciated the great support from, families, parents, and the community at our 25th Anniversary held at the West Auckland Sports Centre in Henderson. Two former Preschoolers' Geraldine Mata and Eneli Mene gave excellent speeches on the day praising the positive influence early childhood leaning has had on their lives.
The original building was upgraded in 2007 and hopefully Management can raise the necessary finance in 2019 to fund our new building project that will increase our roll to 50 children.
Finally, while the journey over the 30 years has not been without difficulties and problems, we are proud to say that staff parents, and managements have been able to overcome each hurdle along the way because of the grace of God and the power of prayer.
May good fortune and success continue on into the future, as together we can all share in preparing our children and Mokopuna to become respected leaders and citizens of Aotearoa New Zealand.
Soifua ma ia manuia.
Rev. Paulo Saulualofaiga Ieriko.