(Picture caption: Congratulations to all our recipients of 2021 Language Champion Honours.)
When COVID-19 prevented in-person acknowledgement for five groups of Language Champions last year, an online celebration on Sunday provided the recognition they deserve.
As part of the 2021 transitional changes of the Pacific Language Weeks Series, the Ministry for Pacific Peoples (MPP) introduced the Language Champion Honours in 2021 to be celebrated during the closing ceremonies of the nine language weeks.
However, part-way through the year, COVID-19 restrictions meant five of the nine Pacific Language Weeks shifted online, and 21 Language Champions from Tonga, Tuvalu, Fiji, Niue and Tokelau could not be acknowledged in-person.
On Sunday in an online video presentation, Minister for Pacific Peoples Hon Aupito William Sio made mention of the incredible individuals who advocate tirelessly for Pacific languages in Aotearoa.
He says the awards recognise these individual’s advocacy for the support, revitalisation, promotion and maintenance of their respective Pacific language in New Zealand.
The online presentation means a total of 36 Language Champion Honours have been awarded to individuals in the nine Pacific communities celebrated in the Pacific Language Weeks series.
It is a fitting time to wrap up the 2021 Pacific Language Champion Honours, as Sunday also signalled the launch of the 2022 Pacific Language Weeks with an announcement of the dates.
This year’s series has an overarching theme of sustainability, which aligns with the UNESCO Decade of Indigenous Languages, getting underway this year.
Language is our culture, our values and our identity.
Pacific languages, cultures and identity are essential to the health, wellbeing and lifetime success of Pacific Aotearoa, and MPP is proud to support this wonderful initiative.
The 21 Language Champions acknowledged on Sunday:
Tonga Language Week:
The Pale Fakalāngilangi ‘oe ‘Unuaki Fonua Honours:
Dr Melenaite Taumoefolau
Komiti Ngaaue ‘a e Ta’u & Uike ‘o e lea faka-Tonga ‘i Aotearoa (Language Year and Week Committee)
Tuvalu Language Week Honours:
Male category champion - Vaeluaga Iosefa
Female category champion - Elena Nukulasi
Youth category champion - Savete Sateko-Tealikisele
Fijian Language Week Honours:
Daunivosa Vakaviti Awards
Marama (Female) - Esther Nagera
Turaga (Male) - Peni Seru
Matua (Elder) - Joseph Davis
Youth Gone - Selai Rakulu and Lita Momo
Matua Youth– Adi Losalini Radininatewa Vakalalabure
Waikato University Fijian Students Association (WUFSA)
Niue Language Week Honours:
Man Youth - Monty Lakatani
Woman Adult - Lynn Lolokini Ikimotu Pavihi
Female Youth - Dr Jess Pasisi
Male Adult - Ioane Aleke Fa'avae
Tokelau Language Week Honours:
Tapapa (Elder Male) - Vaha Tuielu
Talatau (Youth) - Nathan Lopa
Fatupaepae (Female) - Novena Petelo