The launch of Vaiaso o le Gagana Samoa - Samoa Language Week 2021 at Papatoetoe High School in South Auckland yesterday (Sunday) highlights the importance of language in providing a foundation for Pacific wellbeing.
Samoa Language Week, which runs until June 5, is the second of nine Pacific Language Weeks, supported by the Ministry for Pacific Peoples (MPP).
Minister for Pacific Peoples Hon. Aupito William Sio launched the language week, one close to his heart being a proud Samoan.
He says languages are essential to having confidence in Pacific identities.
“They are the lens through which we understand ourselves and the world around us.
“Pacific people thrive when we hear our own stories told in our own languages.”
This year is one of transition for the Pacific Language Weeks series, which among other things, sees all language weeks have their own take on a central theme.
The overarching theme for all the 2021 language weeks is wellbeing.
Minister Sio adds the 2018 Census shows over 60 per cent of Pacific people are born in New Zealand, and Gagana Samoa is the third most-spoken language in New Zealand behind English and te reo Māori.
This year’s Samoa Language Week theme is, Poupou le lotoifale, Ola manuia le anofale, or, in English, Strengthen the posts of your house, for all to thrive.
“It talks about the Samoan fale or house which can only stand strong when the pillars are sturdy,” Minister Sio explains.
“Like a fale, our individual and collective resilience can be measured by our building posts that keep us grounded through the inevitable ups and downs of everyday life.
“Those posts are our languages, cultures and traditions which are reinforced by our families, schools, and churches.”
Poupou le lotoifale, Ola manuia le anofale reminds us coming together to celebrate Samoan culture will strengthen our Gagana Samoa and bring positive benefits for all New Zealanders.
These benefits will not only be felt now, but in the future, the Minister says.
“It is crucial that our Gagana Samoa continues to be used by Samoans in New Zealand, and it is passed on to the generations to come.”
While it is great many people speak Gagana Samoa, Minister Sio says we must actively nurture the language so New Zealand-born Samoans grow up with a firm understanding of the unique culture and traditions which provide the foundation of who they are.
“It is great to see how Samoa Language Week, which started in the Samoan community in 2007, has grown across New Zealand.
“I encourage all New Zealanders to celebrate Samoa Language Week this year by taking the time to support their Samoan neighbours, colleagues and friends to strengthen the posts of their house, or inner-selves, through the celebration of Samoan language and culture.”
As part of Samoa Language Week 2021 celebrations, Samoan Independence Day commemorations will take place on June 1, at Fale Samoa, Māngere.
The nominated 2021 Tautai o le Gagana Language Champion Honours event will take place June 5 at 3pm, held at Fale Pasifika, University of Auckland.