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"O le Pepe" by Ester Temukisa Laban-Alama

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Ester Temukisa Laban-Alama

Learning Contexts:
Singing; Literacy; Learning languages; Dance; Visual arts
Learning Contexts:
Singing; Literacy; Learning languages; Dance; Visual arts
YEAR/S: 1-3 DURATION: 4 - 8 sessions
Values highlighted in this unit How will these values be encouraged?
Excellence Commitment to correct pronunciation and beautiful in-tune singing reflecting the mood of the song.
Innovation, inquiry and curiosity Opportunities to pursue other lines of inquiry resulting from this song. E.g. Sāmoan drumming and dancing.
Diversity Developing an understanding of the significance and value placed on music in the Sāmoan culture.
Equity Developing a sense of belonging in children from Pacific cultures.
Community and participation Full participation by all children and sharing of ideas. Supporting each other.
Care for the environment The importance of the natural environment in Sāmoan culture and the use of imagery from nature in their visual art.
Integrity Respecting cultural knowledge. Openness to new learning.
Key Competencies highlighted in this unit How will these competencies be encouraged?
Managing self Staying focused – knowing when to lead and when to follow.
Relating to others Supporting others in learning new skills. Being open to new learning.
Participating and contributing Active participation in all activities. Willingness to contribute ideas.
Thinking Asking questions to enhance learning. Drawing on previous knowledge of Pacific cultures.
Using language, symbols and texts Correct pronunciation of Sāmoan language. The use of song for storytelling in the Cultures of the Pacific.
Achievement Objectives highlighted in this unit
  • Understanding Music - Sound Arts in Context (UC)
  • Developing Practical Knowledge in Music - Sound Arts (PK)
  • Communicating and Interpreting in Music - Sound Arts (CI)
  • Developing Ideas in Music - Sound Arts (DI)
Learning Outcomes

In this unit the children will develop the ability to:

  • Identify the musical features that tell us this song is from Sāmoa. (UC, PK)
  • Sing rhythmically, with expression and in tune. (PK, CI)
  • Sing Sāmoan children’s song as a celebration of Pacific culture. (UC, PK, CI)
  • Create appropriate movements to express ideas in dance. (PK, CI, DI)
Information for teachers

This gentle song provides an opportunity for children to practise pronouncing Sāmoan words and would link to a class topic about life in Sāmoa. It’s important for the children to sing the words with understanding, appropriate expression and correct pronunciation. With practice and careful listening they will be able to pronounce the words and become confident with the rhythm. (If there are Sāmoan-speaking children in the class, they will be able to lead the way).

O le Pepe

Va’ai ‘i le pepe, va’ai ‘i le pepe.
E lelelele solo ma fa’apepepepe
E pei se manulele, e pei se manulele
             B7           E
Mānaia ona lanu ‘ese’ese.

E           B7          E
E lele ‘i ‘î, ma lele ‘i ‘ô,
            B7      E
‘Ae leai, leai se pa‘ô.
E       B7          E
E lele ‘i ‘î, ma lele ‘i ‘ô,
         B7         E
‘Ae leai, leai se pa‘ô.

This is an easy song to play on ukuleles using Chord 1 and Chord V7, for example, C and G7 or F and C7.

The translation of this song is:

See the butterfly,
see the butterfly
It flies and flutters about
Like a bird, like a bird,
Colourful and beautiful
It flies here and there,
But it doesn’t make a sound at all
It flies here and there,
But it doesn’t make a sound at all.

Here is a festival performance of this song with the actions included.

Games and Starters


Get the children to make siren sounds moving their body up and down with their voices.

Join the dots

(exploring pitch)Draw a dot on the white board, then draw another dot some distance away from the first. Ask a child to join the two notes together with a straight, jagged or wiggly line. The class then sings the line making their voices go up and down to match the shape of the line. One child can conduct.

Whose name is?

Using the soh-me interval, sing to each child. For example, “Whose name is Maru?” then Maru sings back “My name is Maru” and the whole class sings, “Her name is Maru.” Some children will need support to sing their solo line.

Crazy sounds

(exploring sound possibilities)Model a four beat pattern using crazy sounds that explore the range of the voice for children to echo. For example, “woop, woop, sh, sh”, or “eek, eek (very high) ugh ugh” (very low). Give children an opportunity to lead.

Learning experiences
  • Set the scene for the song by listening to the instrumental version and discussing with the children where they think this song might come from. What instruments can they hear? If they close their eyes what image does this music conjure up in their imagination?
  • Sing “Sāmoan Words” to focus on pronunciation.
  • Learn “O le Pepe” focusing on correct pronunciation and expressive, tuneful singing.
  • Relate the melodic contours of the song to the flight of a butterfly and encourage children to draw in the air and move their bodies as the melody rises and falls.
  • Discuss how songs like this would be used in ceremonies and festivals to celebrate the natural environment.
  • Draw the children’s attention to the bell-like tune at the beginning, which suggests the movement of butterflies flitting from flower to flower. The children could make butterfly hand movements during this part of the song.
  • See if the children can identify the different voices singing the song. (First, female voices singing the melody of the verse. Other voices, including a very low sounding male voice, join in the chorus adding harmony).
  • Ask the children to listen to the guitar in the accompaniment. They could pretend that they are strumming a guitar as they listen.
  • Encourage the children to play along to the beat of the song with woodblocks and claves.
  • Invite a person from the Sāmoan community to help develop some graceful dance movements that express the words and feeling of the song. When they are confident with the song, the children can move as they sing.
  • Introduce other Sāmoan songs for the children to listen to and sing. For example “Siva Mai” from Kiwi Kidsongs 40 or Kiwi Kidsongs 16.
  • Make flower or candy lei for the children to wear and share with their audience.
  • View some examples of Sāmoan singing, dancing and drumming . There are many other examples on YouTube.
  • Link the song to your visual arts programme. The children could draw butterflies and flowers from their local environment and use these forms to paint large-scale butterflies on fabric. They could use the fabric to make lavalava to wear when they perform the song. They could talk about the way Pacific artists use flower imagery in their paintings and tapa making, with particular attention to the works of Sāmoan artist Fatu Feu’u.
  • Teach the children a sāsā. This exemplar of teaching sāsā to junior school children may be useful.
  • Explore other aspects of Sāmoan dance.



Giving positive, specific feedback about a child’s progress in singing is the most effective way to develop a confident singer.

Identify the musical features that tell us this song is from Sāmoa (PK, UC)

  • How well can the children discuss the features of Sāmoan music?

Sing rhythmically, with expression and in tune (CI)

  • Can the children sing in time with the accompaniment and with each other?
  • Can they sing in tune with the accompaniment and each other?
  • Does their singing reflect the gentle, expressive style of this song?

Sing Sāmoan children’s song as a celebration of Pacific culture and the natural environment (CI, UC)

  • Do children understand the way songs are used for celebration?
  • How well can they discuss the features of this song – its meaning, style and significance?

Create appropriate movements to express ideas in dance (DI, UC)

  • Do their movements reflect the words and mood of the song?
  • Have the children drawn on cultural knowledge to create their movements?


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