She was the first student to receive the top scholar award for the Samoan language. She credits her late grandma for her success “that’s where it all started.” Her grandma’s rule at home was that only Samoan was to be spoken, no english.
“I spoke it at home and at church and then when I decided to take it up as a subject at school it helped to broaden my knowledge on customs and traditions of my culture”, says Felicity.
Less than half of New Zealand born Samoans said they could speak the language according to the 2006 census and at a time where english threatens a decline in Māori and Pacific languages McAuley High School principal Anne Miles says the language at the school is thriving. They offer at least one Samoan class at each level with about 150 students taking advantage of these classes.
Achieving high marks can be harder for students studying two languages but in the end being bilingual will be a great reward, Ms Miles says.
Felicity won’t be taking her Samoan further because she’s now working toward gaining entry to a bachelor of engineering course next year.
But the rule remains – only Samoan is spoken at home.