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Future of Pacific languages in your hands

Future of Pacific languages in your hands

  • 11 Oct 2021

Have your say on the future of Pacific languages in Aotearoa. Consultation on the Pacific Languages Strategy is open until November 12.

The cornerstone of wellbeing for Pacific peoples, language affirms Pasifika identity and strengthens communities.

Currently, everyone in Aotearoa has a chance to have their say on the future of Pacific Languages in this country, with consultation on the Pacific Languages Strategy, open until November 12.

The Ministry for Pacific Peoples (MPP) has developed a draft Pacific Languages Strategy for targeted consultation, informed by community feedback, discussions with relevant Government agencies, as well as local and international research and literature.

Comparisons from Census 2013 to Census 2018 data shows the proportion of speakers of Pacific languages in Aotearoa has declined yet the importance of language for our wellbeing was re-enforced when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, says Minister for Pacific Peoples Hon Aupito William Sio.

“Our Pacific communities have told us how important our beautiful languages are to their wellbeing, and nothing has brought that home more strongly than COVID-19,” he says. 

“Using Pacific languages to share key information has been essential for stopping the spread of the virus in our communities.

“Unfortunately, we also know that fewer people are using our Pacific languages in Aotearoa than they did a couple of decades back.”

The Pacific Languages Strategy aims to increase the use of Pacific languages, and to revitalise those most at risk.

It will allow for more effective leadership and co-ordination across government and supporting communities in all efforts to drive language revitalisation, the Minister explains.

“The strategy will support our communities to drive and lead the urgent work that is needed to increase the use of Te Gagana Tokelau, Vagahau Niue, Te Reo Māori Kuki ‘Āirani, Gagana Samoa, Lea Faka-Tonga, Te Gana Tuvalu, Vosa Vakaviti, Fäeag Rotųam and Te taetae ni Kiribati.

“These nine Pacific language groups are diverse with different needs, strengths, and challenges, and each group deserves a tailored approach.”

The prioritisation of the language groups MPP endorses are based on three factors – the relationship between Aotearoa and that country; language vitality; and the demographic population.

Key actions to increase the use of Pacific languages in New Zealand are outlined in the strategy and include shifting perspectives to ensure Pacific language use is valued; increasing opportunities and pathways for learning Pacific languages; and creating environments for Pacific languages to be used more often, and in more spaces.

Public input on how we can carry out these actions throughout Aotearoa is vital, and MPP is encouraging as many people as possible to provide feedback on the strategy.

The Ministry is hosting Zoom fonos with target groups to gather information, and you can also provide written feedback on our website, or by emailing [email protected]