Cultural relevance to STEM lessons

posted: 10:00 am - 29th November 2018
Atafu Tokelau Community Group

(Picture caption: Victoria University’s Te Rōpū Āwhina featuring Māori and Pacific students enrolled in Science, Engineering, Architecture and Design (SEAD) courses and degrees, facilitate culturally relevant, interactive workshops with Tokelau students to inspire, educate and contribute to the future development and leadership of our Māori and Pacific people in STEM.)

For more than half a century, the Tokelau community has made their presence felt in Porirua, contributing in positive ways to the city’s development and of course, the wellbeing of Tokelau families living in the region.  

Many of the Tokelauan community belong to Atafu Tokelau Community Group which helps to provide cultural, educational programmes, social support services, as well as a community facility in Porirua.

In 2017, Atafu Tokelau launched the Te Kanava Strategic Plan 2017-2021, a guide and blueprint plan which serves as a framework to guide and help Tokelau reinvigorate its dying culture and language to improving social and economic outcomes in New Zealand.

One motivation behind the group is to increase Tokelau youth and their families’ level of awareness about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths), working with STEM organisations and educational providers, Atafu Tokelau Project Coordinator Zechariah Reuelu says.

“We set out to co-design innovative community projects to increase Tokelau and Pacific communities’ technological, digital and scientific knowledge to build solutions which can help future leaders resolve real-world problems of relevance to their families and communities,” Zechariah says.

Through this, the group offers a culturally relevant STEM learning environment and activities with its partners for its young people.

After acknowledging the need to increase Tokelau and Pacific youth’s STEM knowledge and awareness in Cannons Creek and Waitangirua, Eastern Porirua where the majority of Tokelau families reside, Atafu Tokelau Community Group applied for some of the 2017 Toloa Community Fund, supported by the Ministry for Pacific Peoples (MPP).

Without access to adequate educational experiences in STEM fields, Zechariah says large segments of the Tokelau Porirua young people will be ill-prepared to participate effectively in the modern STEM-based workplace.

The group was successful in their application, and the Toloa Community Fund has helped them to strive to improve the quality of and access to STEM education awareness to Tokelau youth, Zechariah adds.

“Funding has allowed for youth-driven exploration which complements school day teaching and learning, and provides students with opportunities to immerse themselves in STEM learning.”


Applications for the 2019 Toloa Community Fund are now open to Pacific organisations, who deliver STEM-based activities and initiatives to Pacific people in Aotearoa.

With $100,000 worth of funding available, Atafu Tokelau Community Group encourages other organisations to apply, to receive assistance in delivering these important initiatives.

“We encourage Pacific community organisation to apply to the Toloa Community Fund because your communities are culturally rich, filled with Pacific values informing how things are done to explore knowledge with Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics in a solution-focused setting,” Zechariah says.

Applications for the 2019 Toloa Community Fund close on December 10, 2018. Apply HERE.