27 Aug 2019

Call for more reading and literacy in Pasifika homes

10:40 am on 27 August 2019

A senior tutor at the University of Waikato is urging Pasifika parents in New Zealand to encourage and promote literacy at home to prepare their children for tertiary study.

no caption

Photo: 123rf

Mere Taito said many Pasifika university students struggle to write concisely.

Ms Taito, who is also a Rotuman poet, said many students also find it difficult to read academic articles once they get to university.

She said the students, who are mainly second-language speakers, haven't read enough, early enough in their lives.

"That's the foundation for learning. Learning comes from reading. Writing comes from reading. The foundation of writing is actually reading.

"And if you're trying to write without the foundation of reading, it's very difficult. Look at us Pacific islanders, we have this funeral to go to, we have this church activity to go to. I know, we have all those cultural commitments, but we need to do more with reading and literacy at home."

She said the work also needs to be done in schools.

"I think Dr Selina Tusitala-Marsh (Auckland-based Pacific academic) - she's absolutely right in that you need to go to school - you need to go where the young people are.

"And I'm not talking about teenagers who are just about getting into high school. I'm talking about primary school level, nine-year olds, five-year-old, six-year olds, you need to promote that at a very, very young age."

Ms Taito said that while some work is underway, a lot more needs to be done.

"We need to take poetry, creative writing, reading literacy and promote it in our communities," she said.

Rotuman poet Mere Taito says Pacific poetry is alive in New Zealand.

Rotuman poet Mere Taito says Pacific poetry is alive in New Zealand. Photo: Mere Taito/Facebook