A special trip to Samoa by students in the Samoa Identity Language and Culture Unit at Bruce McLaren Intermediate School has led to a new addition to the school uniform - the lavalava.
The Samoa unit began plans three years ago for a trip that has now led it to adopt new attire called Ie Faitaga (a Samoan wrap-around lavalava with pockets).
Samoan class head teacher Helen Magasiva says that on numerous field trips male students wore Ie faitaga and female students wore Ie lavalava.
However, they wanted it to be a part of their uniform so that they could have something to represent Bruce McLaren Intermediate School.
“We needed to wear something we could call our own so we could represent our school at the same time,” Magasiva says.
“The process started two years ago when the class trip was planned; they’ve been on many trips and class excursions, and usually wear a le faitaga, and a Samoa trip was coming up,” Magasiva says.
Although Covid delayed much of the planning with their school trip to Samoa and the creation of their own le faitaga, they eventually presented the concept to the school principal.
“Our principal agreed,” Magasiva says.
Bruce McLaren principal Liz Wood believes le faitaga and le lavalava are part of the way of being for students in the school’s identity, language and culture class - Ola finafinau (being proud).
“It makes sense to ensure our students have a uniform to be proud of and one that highlights their identity,” she says.
As part of the implementation of their Ie faitaga, they had the opportunity to travel to Samoa, where she joined them.
The purpose of the trip was to immerse the students in Samoan culture and provide them with an authentic experience of Samoa.
They were hosted by four distinct schools, two on the main island of Upolu and two on Savaii.
Being in those classes was a one-of-a-kind experience, as the education system there is quite different from that of New Zealand.
Mrs Wood says “The malaga (trip) to Samoawas an incredible learning experience for staff and students alike.”
“It provided the opportunity to be immersed in the authentic way of life and for students to gain an appreciation of what life and education was like in Samoa.”
Making new connections, meeting aiga (family), travelling and exploring the history and geography, visiting schools and villages was learning in real time, Wood says.