Mālo ē lelei!
Hello and welcome to the PILR page.
My name is Annabel and I am the creator of the Pacific Islander Language Resource (PILR) shop.
If you have managed to navigate to my blog, well done!
You have probably spent hours looking for a basic Tongan (or other Pacific) language book for your child or even yourself but have found it difficult to find something appropriate for someone with little or no knowledge of the language. Welcome to my world!
I wrote my first book in 2017 after spending hours looking for a book for my grand-daughter (Lola) who was 2 years old at the time. She is part Tongan, part Samoan and had no idea how to speak either language. I had found a few books online for children but most of them were not written in mind for someone to use that was a toddler and/or unfamiliar with speaking the language. So I thought I should write my own story book for her.
So I did!
It took only a few days to write but it took almost a year to publish.
I had alot of help from friends and family, who volunteered their time and skills to get the first version of the book "Ko fē ho ihu? Where is your nose?" published. The book was released at the end of 2018 and I had really positive feedback from buyers. So I decided to write a second book, "Ko e ha lanu 'eni? What colour is this?". The second book was released mid 2019 and was also received with great feedback from buyers and the community. Both books were also sold and purchased in NZ, USA, France, the Netherlands and even Tonga.
Along with my good friend, Una (Betham) Kilioni, we started a community class in July of of 2017, teaching young children basic Tongan language skills. We called the group Taimi Fanga, which basically means story time. The classes were free and held once a month. The books were used during the lessons (when they were finally published) as well as other resources we had created to help teach the children. We met so many amazing families during the time we ran the program. Unfortunately due to Covid we ceased running regular lessons at the beginning of 2020. So many great memories. We formed a not for profit charity called Learning Oceania Incorporated in 2018 to help raise funds to help to run our programs.
During this period, I received many enquiries and requests from people from other Pacific Islands about my books being translated. So again, with the help of friends and family, volunteering their skills and time, my third and fourth books published were translations of the Tongan books into the Samoan language.
Never in my wildest dreams did I ever even think or imagine I would be doing this. There was an obvious need for a book like this in the community and surprisingly a majority of the buyers were people from other countries that had Pacific Islander partners. Most had said that they had learnt from the books along with their children. How awesome is that! Evidence that more work needs to be done to keep our indigenous pacific languages alive in our community and also with the younger generations.
I myself am a daughter of parents that migrated to Australia. I am amongst the "first generation" of children of Tongan parent, born abroad. So many of us have not been taught the language or have very little knowledge to pass on to our children.What lacks even more so, especially in Australia are the resources to help us teach ourselves and our children.
Im hoping these books spark that little fire to kick start the thirst of knowledge of our Pacific Island languages in our children and serve as a reminder to never let our languages become extinct, like so many other indigenous languages that have disappeared over the years.
The next language books on our PILR page will be translated and published into the Fijian language. We also have translations of Uvean & Futunan coming along soon as well so watch this space.
Let's continue this learning journey together and strengthen our pacific island languages along as our culture and knowledge of our heritage.
Mālo āupito, thank you for reading my first post.
ps Please feel free to comment or email me directly with your feedback or thoughts - email@example.com