Tanielu Tele’a photographed by Chris Skelton
Ten-year-old blogger Tanielu Tele’a and his fellow Pt England Primary colleagues achieve celebrity outside the classroom
Got people following and commenting on your blog daily from around the world? Check. Interviewing the likes of The Warriors and Ruben Wiki? Check. You’re number one in a Google search? Check. You’re ten years old?
That’s Tanielu Tele’a, New Zealand’s youngest up-and-coming sports reporter. (Or rugby star—he hasn’t decided yet.) Tele’a and his colleagues at Auckland’s Point England Primary have been utilising new technology since they were five. As the first New Zealand school to produce its own podcast, and the only primary school with a regular spot on free-to-air TV, Point England students are learning in the 21st century, says technology teacher Dorothy Burt.
What’s particularly exciting about the podcasting and blogging is the voice it gives the students. Tele’a says he likes the chance to have his say—his specialties are our national obsessions, sport and politics—and receive responses from around the world. After a slow start, once the Olympics rolled around “I got really into it,” he says. Tele’a started evaluating athletes’ performances and ran a popular poll on who is the bigger star: sprinter Usain Bolt or swimmer Michael Phelps. Bolt won by a nose, but because of the number of people searching the Olympics online at the time, Tele’a’s blog was noticed and followed by thousands around the world. “He was hooked,” says Burt.
Now the ten-year-old is blogging on everything from Asterix to politics, even writing during the school holidays. “Man, isn't that strange—I thought that Helen Clark did a pretty cool job but John Key from National actually won it!” Tele’a wrote during the election. “They’re both pretty good at talking about what New Zealand needs to be a better country.”
“It’s great that he’s taking it a step further from just being descriptive,” says Burt. “He’s making a comment on society, and analysing events.”
Fellow students at the decile 1 school in Glen Innes are also achieving a level of celebrity with their work. Sela Pamaka has been podcasting about New Zealand books since she was six, and the podcasts that she and her classmates are producing have been so successful that Kiwi authors now send advance copies of their books to the school for preview. Author Robyn Kerr even involved the students in her last books, getting them to comment on her story ideas. Pupils Helen Tuipoloa and Paulita Peleti front the school TV shows, producing news broadcasts for classrooms, other schools and the weekly Triangle TV slot. And that’s just the start—students are recording music on GarageBand, creating graphics, and working on editing and design.
But it’s not just the reading and writing that these students excel at. They’re masters of marketing, even if they don’t know it yet. It’s one thing to share your thoughts, but quite another to build a profile and an audience. “I use hyperlinking, tags and keywords to make sure as many people as possible read my blog,” says Tele’a proudly. Watch out Peter Ropati.