For close to three decades, Ioane Aleke Fa'avae (pictured) has served the Niue community wearing several different hats, including as a Tufuga of Vagahau Niue and culture, emerging Academic, Educator, Author, Journalist and Broadcaster among others.
His efforts in preserving and promoting the Niue language and culture have been recognised at the conclusion of Faahi Tapu he Vagahau Niue – Niue Language Week 2021 in October.
Ioane became the inaugural Niue Language Champion in the Adult Male category, an award which he says validates the importance and value of vagahau Niue and culture in Aotearoa New Zealand, and diaspora.
“It is an indication our Tagata Niue is forthcoming to learn and acquire Vagahau Niue and culture,” Ioane says.
The Language Champion Honours were introduced to the Pacific Language Weeks series this year, and have proved to be a highlight of the nine language weeks, supported by the Ministry for Pacific Peoples (MPP).
Currently a Lecturer of vagahau Niue language at Manukau Institute of Technology (MIT) and a Learning Advisor Pacific at Unitec, Ioane is from Mutalau, Niue and migrated with his family to Aotearoa at the age of seven.
A University of Auckland Alumni, Ioane previously worked in media for a decade as a Journalist and Broadcaster before taking up the role as an Academic Development Lecturer at Unitec.
Ioane has proudly served his community in New Zealand for 27 years, through various roles, teaching Vagahau Niue, dances and culture, created and developed resources, facilitating cultural workshops, presenting at conferences, hosting festivals and events and advising for regional and international projects.
“In the many initiatives and projects in the community, I have helped mentor and support the developments of future Niue leaders,” he explains.
“One of those recent achievements is composing the takalo or war dance performed by Ponataki e Atu Toa Niue at the Dawn Raids Apology in August.”
Some of the many highlights of his service include tutoring high school groups which performed at ASB Polyfest Niue stage for 20 years, composing and choreographing dances on behalf of Niue at opening ceremonies of Pasifika Festival for a decade and performing at various festivals and community events around Aotearoa.
“I have co-led a New Zealand Niue delegation to the ninth Pacific Arts Festival, 2004 in Palau and have also been a member of the Niue delegation at the eighth Pacific Arts Festival, in New Caledonia during 2000,” he adds.
Among the many community organisations and groups he has taught Vagahau Niue to, is the Kahurangi Prison and Pasifika Education Centre (PEC).
He has also been tasked to write the PEC handbook for learners of conversational Vagahau Niue. In 2016, Ioane was appointed as an NZQA Review Panelist of Vagahau Niue units standards.
The man of many talents also served as a Trustee who held the portfolio of Arts and Culture in Mutalau Ululauta Matahefonua Trust My for a decade.
In 2014, Ioane authored Uluvehi Pupuo Tapuina: The sacred reef passage of Uluvehi to celebrate the organisation's 10th Anniversary.
The book highlights the history, religion, and migration stories of the descendants of Mutalau village, he says.
While Faahi Tapu he Vagahau Niue is a start, there is far more that can be done to promote the Niue language and culture in Aotearoa, Ioane says.
“This includes vagahau Niue being offered at NCEA to be made compulsory at high school instead of being an option.
“Tagata Niue needs to take ownership of its vagahau Niue and culture by advocating for full emersion programmes and more bilingual units in geographical areas with dense Niue populations.
“We need to initiate projects ourselves with the support of the Government and other agencies that help contribute towards language revitalisation.
“We need to build the capacity of future Niue leaders, academics, researchers, educators, and professionals who can promote and maintain Vagahau Niue.”