Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

A journey of faith for the Manurewa High School Samoan group

Avatar photo
Neueli Mauafu | Reporter

“For my group, every year the purpose is always the same. It’s always about glorifying God first”

There is no questioning how much fa’asamoa means for Manurewa High School’s Samoan group as they headed into this year’s ASB Polyfest.

Having taken out first place in the previous year, the group ran a tight ship making sure that everything is perfect for their performances this year.

But as head tutor and teacher John Lafaele stated, sometimes Polyfest is not always about first place.

“There’s that perception that it’s about the competition and then it gets heated up and there is always drama and stuff that happens online and outside polyfest,” Lafaele says.

“For my group, every year the purpose is always the same. It’s always about glorifying God first and giving him thanks for everything that we have and for blessing us with this culture.”

Lafaele first began his tutoring journey with Manurewa in 2011 and has been with the school ever since.

From 2011 to now, he has seen many of his former students who were in the Samoan group, expanding their knowledge in the Samoan culture through various avenues.

It’s something that he believes is a key part of Polyfest.

“I see some of my ex-students go off and tutor other schools or do other stuff culturally. 

“Some of them have been encouraged to go and do classes like Samoan classes or night take Samoan papers in uni,” Lafaele says.

“Knowing that we planted that seed here at Manurewa for them and then they’re going out and branching and making something of it is just a great feeling.”

Heading into this year’s Polyfest, Lafaele joined forces with his tutoring group, going through countless hours of practice to perfect their cultural set.

Helping him through their preparations were student leaders Teleise Solomona – who was also the ‘taupou’ for the group – and Milleta Komisi.

“From the start till now, there was ups and downs” Teleise says.

“But our job was to stand firm so that whenever we went through the downs they’d lean on us. It’s a bit rocky but we made a lot of progress.” 

For Milleta, this year’s leadership role was a personal journey for herself.

“I was leader last year, but I had the help of someone who had heaps of experience. And this year it was finally like, now it’s your turn to finally step up. But I’m always up for a challenge,” Milleta says. 

On performance day at the Manukau Sports Bowl the skies opened up trickling down light showers.

Although it may have dampened the stage and grounds, it did not hold back family members and the community coming out to support Manurewa High.

And as their community cheered them on, the group performed with grace and elegance showcasing their love for the Samoan culture.

“They’ve come a long way, and journeys been long and tough,” Lafaele said at backstage

“All the long hours they have put into practises and stuff and I am just proud of them and their efforts, they’ve given 100 percent and I know for sure they’ve been doing it for their reason and their why.”

For Teleise and Milleta both in their last years of school and polyfest, the pair are proud for what they have achieved.

“Good job, we made it! Yeah it was really rocky and the progress was… but it’s progress. But yeah good job Rewa,” Teleise says.

“I will miss the feeling of being in school. Being with my friends during the long hours of practises,” Milleta added

“Being part of a family. A family outside of mine. Being part of something where you can embrace your culture.”

As another year concludes for Polyfest Lafaele hopes that people will understand the value of these events for the welfare of students, enabling  them to immerse in their pacific cultures.

“With everything that is going on, in our country right now like ram raids like fighting and online bullying and all of that, is disappointing to see,” he says.

“But opportunities like this help prevent that. Having something where the students can come together, be together and fellowship and working together to a goal that’s the main thing.”



Stay Connected

Subscribe to our mailing list to receive daily updates direct to your inbox!

*we hate spam as much as you do