Ngāpuhi Rangatahi brings 'nuggets' of knowledge to Samoa

updated By Bronson Perich, Tepara Koti

Fourteen-year-old Epifania Tusani (Ngāpuhi, Hāmoa) is no stranger to charity work.

From a young age, she has worked alongside her friends and whānau to give back to communities in Samoa.

Her latest venture involves repurposing chicken coops and building miniature libraries filled with used and donated books for local children to read.

Affectionately known as 'Epi', the youngster has already produced five mini-libraries with the help of local villagers in Samoa, and a number of businesses both in Samoa and here in Aotearoa.

Epi produced her very first 'chicken coop' library for St Joseph's Primary School in Leauva'a in 2018.  She says she wanted to give back to the children of her dad's village by encouraging them to read.

"I felt good 'cos it was going to the children who needed to read and learn," she explained, "The books were from other people. There were journals and big books."

Epi presents her first 'chicken coop' library to St Joseph's Primary - Photo / Samoa Observer

The year before that, Epi raised funds to donate 'jandals' as school shoes to 150 students at Savaia Primary School in Lefaga. The desire to donate jandals came following a whānau visit to the area where she had noticed the local children were running around 'barefoot'. 

Proud dad, Tuala Tusani says, "We had a discussion when she asked what I used to do because I grew up in Samoa. I said we didn't do much just read books. That's where it kinda started, it wasn't something big and it's half the size of that table, (that was) the first library that started."

Epi and family presenting jandals to Savaia Primary School students - Photo / Samoa Observer

"She made cupcakes and helped sell them at the markets - together with some friends. It was the whole school, we supplied the whole school with school shoes," says Tuala.

Tri-Māori co-founder Ariana Paul (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Maniapoto) visited one of Epi's mini-libraries whilst in Samoa recently visiting the country.

Ariana as part of the ASA Foundation, along with other businesses like Fletcher Construction have been working alongside Epi to further her 'nuggets of knowledge' ideas.

TriMāori co-founder Ariana Paul in Samoa at Epi's Chicken Library - Photo / Supplied

While Epi has been quietly taking her achievements in her stride, dad Tuala says, "If you get to know her she's somebody who doesn't say a lot. But if you see the photos, she works hard."

Epi is now working towards getting three more mini-libraries built, alongside the ASA Foundation for the three main hospitals that have treated measles patients.

The Givealittle campiagn to finance these libraries, has, at the time of publishing raised $390.