Activity for ‘Night Fishing for my Birthday’

Night Fishing for my Birthday

by Tuala F. Tiresa Malietoa

 Everyone is a little worried when Sifa asks if he can go night fishing for flying fish, to celebrate his birthday. His Uncle Seti had previously lost an arm when he was bitten by a shark while night fishing once. Despite this, he is allowed to go, and learns what it means to be a true hero when the canoe turns and he is tipped out of the boat. This story shows a unique aspect of Pacific Island culture, and has been illustrated beautifully using pencil and water colours, by Vaioleti Samata Uili.

This book was nominated for the collection because it shows life in the Pacific Islands.

Activity: LANGUAGES OF THE PACIFIC (Learning Languages)

Curriculum Level 1 & 2(see curriculum links at the end of the activity)

NZC Key Competencies

  • thinking
  • using language, symbols and text
  • participating and contributing
  • relating to others


 This book is available in Samoan and English versions, so provides an excellent resource for use in supporting the learning of a new language. It could also be used very effectively with bilingual learners.1. Invite older children or adults from the community, who are able to read and speak in Samoan. You may even have students in the class who are able to read and speak Samoan – and are willing to do so in front of the class (they may not be!). Ask them to come and read the story – first in English, and then in Samoan.Talk about the ideas presented in it. Encourage them to talk about what is happening in the illustrations as they read the Samoan language version, so that children are aware of what is happening in the story, while they are listening to a new language being spoken.

2. Make links to children’s own experiences of fishing – some of them may even have been night fishing themselves. Talk about why it is a potentially dangerous thing to do. Talk about how brave Uncle Seti must have been when he was attacked by a shark!

3. Pick out some key Samoan words from the story to teach children.

Children can make cards with both Samoan and English vocabulary on them, as well as a picture. Use the cards to play memory or snap with a partner.

The following translations might be useful:

Samoan/ English translations:po = night

Atua = God

tama = boy

sami = sea

paopao = canoe

fagota = fishing

lima = arm

malie = shark

4. Ask the visitor to choose a short passage from the story. Have the words of this passage so that they are visible to all students, and have them learn how to read this passage, using correct pronunciation. Children could go away and practice with a buddy, then “perform” the passage to the class and visitor.

Curriculum Links Learning LanguagesProficiency Descriptor

  • students can understand and use familiar expressions and everyday vocabulary (Level 1 & 2)


Selecting and using language, symbols and texts to communicate

  • understand and produce information and ideas (Level 1 & 2)

Participating and contributing in communities

  • use cultural knowledge to communicate appropriately (Level 1 & 2)

Language Knowledge

  • recognise and describe ways in which the target language is organized (Level 1 & 2)
  • compare and contrast languages (Level 1 & 2)

Cultural Knowledge

  • recognise and describe ways in which the target culture(s) is/ are organized (Level 1 & 2)
  • compare and contrast cultural practices (Level 1 & 2)

Links to other books in the PPBC

Watercress Tuna and the Children of Champion Street by Patricia GraceKa’akapera Tikai by Lino Nelisi

Tane Steals the Show by Lino Nelisi

Sione’s Talo by Lino Nelisi

My School Bag, My Preschool, When I go to church by Tolo Pereira

Upside-down Face by Lemalu Ros Afamasaga

The Woven Flax Kete by Angie Belcher

O Le Aso S Pa’eoa’e by Saron Aiono-Iosefa

O Le Fa’aipoipoga by Emma Kruse Vaai

– all of these books are available in dual or multi language versions, to support bilingual and new language learners.

Other ideas

  • Talking and writing about birthday experiences (English)
  • Illustrate a part of the story (Visual Art)
  • Talking and writing about a time when you were really scared (English)