The Auckland-based Pasifika Education Centre (PEC) is the only NZQA Registered PTE offering NZQA approved training schemes for community Pasifika language courses in six languages and across all levels. These courses are made available to Pasifika Aotearoa for free, with the goal of achieving thriving Pasifika languages, but they are also freely available to all New Zealander’s who may have an interest in Pasifika languages and cultures.

And now, with the exception of the Samoan Oratory class, all of the courses are available online.

The Minister for Pacific Peoples, Hon Aupito William Sio, launched the digital platform, funded by a grant of $3.9m over 4 years, on July 16.

The online learning platform, PolyeLearning, is powered by MOODLE.

Learners using PolyeLearning are able to access teaching materials, talk directly with their tutor in a private and secure environment, and contribute to class talanoa via group chat. Personal videos can also be shared.

People wanting to learn online must enrol with the PEC then they can start the 10-week two-hour ZOOM class which runs live from 6–8pm.

Between classes learners are expected to do at least 1-hour self-directed learning.

The courses are based on key themes, such as salutations and greetings, numbers and counting, telling the time, counting money, days of the week and months of the year, food etc.

PEC Chief Executive, Tuiloma Gayle Lafaiali’i, says that the pandemic has made the transition from physical classroom learning to e-learning a smooth process: “Covid-19 has had an impact in how people look at doing things online such as education. A lot of people realised that actually it’s okay to join a class from the comfort of my own home using digital technology. Three weeks prior to launching our online programmes we had over 500 people register to enrol, which shows demand for online programmes. Yes! We had 500 plus enrolments before day one.

“Being able to offer our services online means that we are now able to extend our reach, not only across all regions in Aotearoa, but also the wider Pacific. Aucklanders too are benefitting. There’s a phenomenon in Auckland where people prefer not to cross town particularly in peak traffic, and so if we had a course on a Monday, some will say they can’t come Monday, but we don’t have capacity offer another day. So now they too have the option of learning online.”

Since it was first established over 40 years ago, the PEC has been providing ACE for Pacific people – initially teaching skills to assist Pacific migrants with job and life skills such as English, job searching and cooking, and later teaching Aotearoa-born Pacific people with classes in their Pacific language and culture – skills and knowledge that actively support their general wellbeing and identity.