Ministry for Pacific Peoples — Language provides hope for Tuvalu Language provides hope for Tuvalu Skip to content

Language provides hope for Tuvalu

Language provides hope for Tuvalu

  • 27 Sep 2022
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  • Tuvalu
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(Picture caption: Fakatalofa and Welcome to Vaiaso o te Gana Tuvalu – Tuvalu Language Week 2022! Visit the MPP website for more information and resources.) 

Climate change continues to present a major risk for the island nation of Tuvalu, which means sustaining te gana Tuvalu, both on home soil and in New Zealand Aotearoa, has never been more important.

Minister for Pacific Peoples Hon Aupito William Sio says the Tuvalu Auckland Community Trust and wider Tuvalu community have selected the theme for Vaiaso o te Gana Tuvalu – Tuvalu Language Week 2022, Fakamautu ke mautakitaki te gagana Tuvalu mo te atafai, fakaaloalo mo te amanaiagina.

“In English, this means to Nurture with sustainability the Tuvalu language, with care, respect and dignity,” Minister Sio adds.

The theme also links to the 2022 Pacific Language Weeks overarching topic of sustainability and the launch of the UNESCO Decade of Indigenous languages.

Of those residing in New Zealand, 48 percent use te gana Tuvalu; while 33 percent of New Zealand-born Tuvaluans can speak their own language, Minister Sio says.

“With a 4,653 strong population in New Zealand, it is important to ensure the Tuvalu language, culture and identity continues to be sustainable in Aotearoa as well.”

Tuvalu consists of nine inhabited islands with a population of approximately 11,000.

The importance of sustaining te gana Tuvalu is heightened by the unique challenges the planet’s fourth-smallest nation faces with climate change.

Minister Sio says there are many examples where Tuvaluan people come together to speak and utilise their language, through communal gatherings - fakaala, traditional forms of dancing - fatele, songs or pese, lotu and church.

“The time to act is now, not only in doing our bit to reduce the impact of climate change on our Pacific neighbours, but to support the language, culture and traditions of Tuvalu to ensure its people thrive.

“One way to do that, is get involved in Tuvalu Language Week and immerse yourself in language learning through traditional dancing, songs, cooking, online-videos, teachings, church services and youth activities.”

Visit the MPP website and the NZ Tuvalu Language Week Facebook page for more information and language resources on Tuvalu Language Week, September 25 to October 1, 2022.