Activity for ‘O Le Fa’aipoipoga’

O Le Fa’aipoipoga

by Emma Kruse Vaai

Written in Samoan language, this book tells the story of a traditional Samoan wedding. The bright colourful water colour illustrations show classic scenes of a Saoman village getting ready for a wedding celebration – feeding the chickens, mowing the lawns and sewing the wedding clothes… as well as some less classic scenes – like when the groom gets a flat tyre and is late for his own wedding!

This book was nominated because of its interesting illustration and it shows the Teuila (ginger plant) – Samoa’s national plant. It is a great representation of what a Samoan wedding is like.

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


 The text in this story is written in Samoan, so it provides an excellent resource for use in supporting the learning of a new language. It could also be used very effectively with young Samoan speakers.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 and talk about the ideas presented in it. Encourage them to talk about what is happening in the illustrations as they read so that children are aware of what is happening in the story, while they are listening to the Samoan language being spoken.

Children should be encouraged to make connections between the little girls’ experiences in the book, and any of their own experiences they may have of going to a wedding.

  • Ask: is this like a wedding that you have been to? What is the same or different about this wedding and weddings you have been to?

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

The following translations might be useful:

Samoan/ English translations:fa’aipoipoga = wedding

vele = pull up weeds

teuila = flower/ ginger plant

Aso To’ona’i = Saturday

fale = house/ building

mananaia = pretty dresses

telefoni = telephone

ua pā le pa’u o la’u ta’avale = the car is broken

taumafa = food

vai tipolo = homemade limeade/ lemonade

Lale lale! = hurry hurry!

3. Because interaction is an important aspect of language learning, involve students in the following interactive activity:

Ask the Samoan speaker to teach the students how to ask “Can I have a ____ please?” in Samoan. Also teach them Samoan vocabulary for a few different food and drink items, for example, homemade lemonade, water, milk, apple, sandwich.

Have these items available in the classroom, and students can take turns coming and asking for something to eat or drink. Students can also take turns at being the waiter/ waitress – they must listen and understand what is being asked for, and give the correct item.

5. 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 Descriptorstudents 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

– 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 other celebrations (English)