Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Digital library could be a game-changer for Pacific Kids Learning

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Hanalei Foliaki | Reporter/Director

In 2014 Evo Leota Tupou, a mother of five, noticed a gap in educational resources for Pacific children while trying to entertain her kids at home. 

Plonking them in front of YouTube, she found a lack of content in Pacific languages. 

This realisation led her to create Pacific Kids Learning (PKL), an online platform dedicated to preserving and promoting Pacific culture through education.

“[I realised] I’m not the only parent that’s actually experiencing this, there’s a whole lot of us who would love to have this kind of content in the digital space,” she says. 

Teaming up with Theresa Tupuola-Sorenson and Tatiana Marich, Evo’s vision for PKL began to take shape. 

Their shared experiences as working mothers underlined the importance of accessible cultural learning, leading them to develop PKL’s diverse range of resources. 

“Evo reached out to me and asked if I wanted to be a part of Pacific Kids Learning where we wanted to take it to the next level,” Tatiana says.

“I’ve always believed in PKL from the very beginning so I was happy to jump on board back then.” 

From animated heritage storytelling by local students to the Pacific Digital Dance Project using 3D motion capture; PKL has been innovative in its approach. But it’s their newest project, the Pacific Digital Library, that promises to be a game-changer. 

The Digital Library aims to engage children in familiar digital spaces, ensuring cultural learning remains fun and accessible. 

Theresa highlights the convenience of a digital library, accessible anytime, anywhere, especially for busy working mothers. 

“There are great programmes out there that might just be during the school holidays, or they might be after school programmes… The beauty of the library is that the parent can access it whenever they’re available to,” she says.   

Tatiana, whose connection to Tonga runs through her children, emphasises the impact such resources could have had on her own children’s language retention.

“We were living in Tonga when my youngest was a baby, she came back to New Zealand speaking Tongan,” she says.

“Now, 3 years later, she’s lost it and I think if we had had content back then, that we’ve created now, it might have just helped to keep that in her everyday language.” 

Despite their achievements, the trio acknowledge the challenges ahead with aspirations to make PKL self-sustainable, creating more resources and economic opportunities. 

While grateful for support from entities like the Ministry of Education and Creative NZ, they’re keen to reduce reliance on government support and increase mainstream recognition of Pacific knowledge and culture.

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