Bringing Pasifika Music to Playcentre

Bringing Pasifika Music to Playcentre

Talofa lava, kia orana, fakaalofa lahi atu, talofa ni, mālō e lelei, ni sa bula, greetings, tēnā koutou katoa!

Earlier this year I had the pleasure of attending a Pasifika music play workshop at Shirley Playcentre. A group of enthusiastic parents came together to discuss the benefits of using Pasifika music with our tamariki and to learn a few songs we could each take away with us. Following the workshop I asked the facilitator, Janita Patrick, a few questions about her passion for Pasifika.  

Firstly, I asked Janita where her passion for Pacific cultures came from. “I lived in Samoa for 5 years, so the Samoan culture is very much part of me. My husband was born and bred in Papua New Guinea & my brother and family have also just come back from living in Fiji for 2 years. So we have some connections with the Pacific even though it’s not blood related”.

Janita began sharing her experience by running activities for the parents and tamariki at Redwood Playcentre, which she attends. “When Samoan language week came around I thought it would be nice to share a bit of what I knew on session and set up some activities.”

“Samoan is the third most spoken language in New Zealand”, she continues, “and although we identify as a bicultural nation, we encounter more and more cultures in our everyday lives. I think representing Pasifika cultures at Playcentre diversifies us and celebrates learning about other languages and ways of life.”

Janita told me about her current favourite Pasifika resources. “Kiwi Kids’ Songs 16 is a collection of songs with a Pacific theme. One copy is available free to every Playcentre and school through Down the Back of the Chair, the Ministry of Education Resource Centre for books and music. There are also many other resources available free to centres.” (See

As part of the play workshop we used many of these resources to learn songs and, ultimately, perform them for the other groups. Unfortunately, while I love singing and learning songs, the performance aspect felt daunting, especially as my group ended up with the longest song. We embraced the challenge of singing in another language, mindful of the spirit and positivity that Janita had engendered, and harmonised as well as we possibly could. The tamariki present joined in, pounding along with drums and other instruments.  

While the performing aspect wasn’t exactly easy for many of us, we left with no shortage of ideas about how to make the songs engaging for the children back at our centres. We all agreed that music is ideal for all ages and - with the help of percussion instruments, a few props, and CDs - an absolute blast can be had by everyone.

Of course, there’s more to learning a song in another language than just stumbling over unfamiliar words. There are myriad benefits to sharing this music with our children at Playcentre, as it allows us to understand a language, culture and view of the world far more deeply. It makes our tamariki open-minded, tolerant and welcoming of others.

I am grateful for Janita’s passion and inspiration and delighted to have some new ideas to share on session.

If you’re interested in upcoming play workshops or other Playcentre education opportunities keep an eye on or the Canterbury Playcentre Association website.

Frances Martin

Posted: Monday 10 April 2017