(Picture caption: Fakaalofa lahi atu! Welcome to Faahi Tapu he Vagahau Niue – Niue Language Week 2022. Visit the MPP website for information and language week resources.)
The people of Niue have reached a crossroads where the status of Vagahau Niue is considered vulnerable, and revitalising it, is essential for its survival.
Minister for Pacific Peoples Hon Aupito William Sio says Vagahau Niue has been registered with UNESCO as an endangered language, so a challenge we face is the preservation of Vagahau Niue and Niue culture.
“It is vital we preserve, sustain and maintain Vagahau Niue and its culture for many generations to come,” Minister Sio says.
This year’s language week theme, Fakatūleva e Vagahau Niue mo e Tau Aga Fakamotu ma e Tau Atuhau, or in English, Sustain Niue Language and Culture for Future Generations, sums up the importance of preserving the language of Niue now.
According to the 2018 Census, 30,867 Niue people live in Aotearoa New Zealand, and the population in Niue was 1,620.
As a realm nation of Aotearoa, the New Zealand Government is committed to ensuring the wellbeing needs of the large Niue population residing in New Zealand are met.
During research consultation in preparation of the recently launched Pacific Languages Strategy, the Niue community expressed concern around the decline of Niue people who can speak or use Vagahau Niue and identified more support in the education curriculum was needed, Minister Sio explains.
“That's why this government invested $20m from Budget 2021 to support Pacific bilingual units, and to include Vagahau Niue as an NCEA subject,” he adds.
“Meanwhile, young New Zealand-born Niueans told the Ministry for Pacific Peoples that Vagahau Niue and Niue culture are avenues to stay connected with their parents and grandparents; these things provide them with a sense of identity.”
He says the loss of language is a very real worry for Niue people, so Niue leaders and community groups are working hard to explore, discuss and formulate strategies to ensure Vagahau Niue and the Niuean culture is protected and sustained for future generations.
“I want to assure our Pacific communities that we hear you.
“We hear the passion and commitment you have for our languages and the call for better pathways in our education system that draw on our Pacific languages as keys to success,” Minister Sio says.
Faahi Tapu he Vagahau Niue – Niue Language Week 2022 which runs from October 16-22, is an opportunity to promote the island nation, and its culture, and to practice using simple phrases and words to help promote and boost the language.
Visit the MPP website for information and language week resources, and connect online by visiting the official NZ Niue Language Week Facebook page.