Dr Rae Siilata

PhD, MALangTchg, BEd, DipTESSOL, Dip Tchg


Ko Tararua te pae maunga. Ko te Ōhau, ko te Ōtaki nga awa. Ko Tainui, ko Te Arawa nga waka. Ko Ngati Raukawa, ko Tūhourangi nga iwi. Ko Ngāti Kikopiri te hapū. Ko Otaki te turangawaewae. Ki te taha o toku matua, no Otaki ahau. Ki te taha o toku whaea, no Fiti, no Savusavu ahau. Tena koutou katoa. Ni sa bula vinaka.

Rae Siilata is a Lecturer in Biliteracy-Pasifika/TESSOL in the School of Curriculum and Pedagogy, Faculty of Education and Social Work.

Rae's recent research interests centre on effective language and literacy practice for Pasifika bilingual learners in primary schooling, and on professional learning and development (PLD) facilitation for linguistically and culturally responsive teaching and learning. In 2014 she completed her doctoral studies on Pasifika student success in English-medium education.

Formerly a primary ESOL/classroom teacher and principal, Rae is interested in bilingual/biliterate academic outcomes, language teaching and learning, and is committed to teacher professional development in bilingualism/biliteracy and TESSOL.

Research | Current

Research Interests:

  • Applied Linguistics in English-Medium and Māori-Medium Education
  • Bilingualism and Biliteracy
  • Bilingual Education, Second Language Acquisition, Translanguaging


  • Researching effective PLD facilitation for linguistically and culturally responsive teaching and learning. A colloborative project with the Consortium for Professional Learning (CPL), Professor Helen Timperley, Dr. Deidre Le Fevre, Dr. Fiona Ell, Mrs. Kaye Twyford, Dr. Sarah Mayo (2014-2016).
  • Researching effective utilisation of Pasifika dual language/bilingual texts in English-medium new entrant classrooms (2014-2017).
  • Researching the experiences of language teachers in the classroom: Beyond the regular interview. A collaborative project with Dr Susan Gray, Dr Margaret Kitchen, and Maree Jeurissen (2015-2017).
  • Researching effective language and literacy learning through the Arts with Pasifika Arts teachers: Teacher-Led Innovation Fund (TLIF) project: 'Teaching Past the Frangipani: Empowering Pasifika Arts in Niu Sila Schools', with Dagmar Dyck, Fa'afetai Amituana'i, Lily Laita, Viliami Telefoni (2016-2017).

Teaching | Current

  • EDPROFST 226 Introduction to Bilingual Education
  • EDPROFST 227 Language Learning Needs
  • EDPROFST 377 Bilingual Education: Curriculum and Pedagogy
  • EDPROFST 227 TESSOL: Language Learning Needs
  • EDPROFST 373 TESSOL: Language Learning in the New Zealand Context
  • EDPROFST 374 TESSOL: Language Focused Curriculum
  • EDPROFST 318 Language Teaching for ESOL: An Introduction
  • EDPROFST 705 Issues in Literacy Education

Postgraduate supervision

Bilingualism and biliteracy, indigenous education, second language acquistion, Pasifika Education, linguistically and culturally responsive pedagogies in English-medium education, reciprocal family-school partnerships

Doctoral Supervisions

  • 2016 - Jacqueline Tutavake, "Found in translation: The pathway to outcomes in the Cook Islands", PhD co-supervision with AP Eve Coxon and Dr. Rebecca Jesson.

Masters' Supervisions

  • 2016 - Jacinta Loto, "To read is to understand: Literacy teachers exemplary teachers use to teach Pasifika students", co-supervision with Professor Janet Gaffney. [Completed]
  • 2016 - Faleata Ualesi, "Possibilities for Improving Pasifika Achievement: A duoethnographic talanoa study", co-supervision with Dr. Deidre Le Fevre. [Completed]
  • 2016 - Fima Fa'aete'ete, "Investigating high achieving Samoan bilingual girls' perceptions of effective teacher practice in Geography", co-supervision with Dr. Aaron Wilson.
  • 2016 - Martha Aseta, "Samoan constructs of giftedness and talent within a Samoan bilingual educational context", co-supervision with Dr. Catherine Rawlinson. [Completed]
  • 2016 - Charlotte Gipps, "Exploring the alignment between home-school partnership and the social studies curriculum in a New Zealand secondary school", supervision with Dr. Tanya Wendt Samu.



  • Project Director: Pasifika Teacher Aide Project (Ministry of Education contract)
  • Project Director: Pasifika New Entrant Project (Ministry of Education contract)

Areas of expertise

  • Bilingualism and biliteracy
  • Linguistically and culturally responsive leadership and teaching practice

Committees/Professional groups/Services

Faculty Committees

  • Member of the Partnership Board for the Marie Clay Research Centre, University of Auckland (2016-present)
  • Associate Dean Pasifika's representative on the Faculty of Education and Social Work Teaching and Learning Quality Committee (2015)
  • Associate Dean Pasifika's representative on the Faculty of Education and Social Work Education Committee (2016)
  • Member Kainga Pasifika (2011-present)

National Committees

  • Pasifika Caucus representative on New Zealand Association for Research in Education (NZARE) Council
  • Pasifika representative to the Ministry of Education's National ESOL Advisory Committee
  • Pasifika representative to the Ministry of Education's TESSOL Scholarship Selection Panel

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Siilata, R. (2017). Translanguaging and storying with Pasifika dual language texts. Auckland, New Zealand. Related URL.
  • Siilata, R. K., Samu, T. W., & Siteine, A. (2017). The Va‘atele Framework: Redefining and transforming Pasifika Education. In E. McKinley, L. T. Smith (Eds.) The Handbook of indigenous education (pp. ). Singapore: Springer Nature. 10.1007/978-981-10-1839-8_34-1
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Alexis Siteine, Tanya Samu
  • Kitchen, M. C., Jeurissen, M., Siilata, R., & Gray, S. (2015). Diversity is a key to unity?. In J. Morgan (Ed.) The 21st Century Curriculum? (pp. 138-151). Auckland, New Zealand: Edify.
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Margaret Kitchen, Susan Gray
  • Siilata, R. K. (2007). The Pasifika teacher aide handbook: Supporting Pasifika teacher aides in primary classrooms. Auckland, New Zealand: National Migrant and Refugee Education Team, Ministry of Education. Pages: 170.