COVID-19 impacts Samoa Language Week journey

posted: 9:00 pm - 24th May 2020
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(Picture caption: Visit MPP for more information and resources you can use during Samoa Language Week.) 

From May 24-30, New Zealand – and further afield - will embrace and celebrate the third most spoken language in Aotearoa with Samoa Language Week. 

It is the second of nine Pacific Language Weeks this year, supported by the Ministry for Pacific Peoples and facilitated by Fa’alapotopotoga mo le A’oa’oina o le Gagana Samoa i Aotearoa (FAGASA), Sosaiete Aoga Amata Samoa I Aotearoa (SAASIA), and FOTU O MALAMA – the Association for Teachers of Samoan Language (secondary and tertiary).

Samoa Language Week co-organiser Fa’atili Iosua Esera says with COVID-19 changing the way we do things, this year’s Samoa Language Week was launched online, and is being driven from a digital platform.

This means, New Zealand’s Samoa Language Week could potentially attract international attention and interaction by people based overseas.

The week-long celebration was launched online on Sunday, by Minister for Pacific Peoples Hon Aupito William Sio. 

The National President for FAGASA, Chairperson of the Ministry Pa’aga / Partners group and Principal at Sutton Park School started Samoa Language Week in 2006, and the annual event is something he remains heavily involved in.

As FAGASA President, part of his role is to facilitate national conversations to decide the theme for Samoa Language Week, which this year is: Tapena sou ōso mo lau malaga -Prepare yourself a gift for your travels. 

Essentially, this alagaupu or Samoan saying encourages people to be thoroughly prepared for the journey they are about to embark upon, and it highlights the need to honour, respect and share the gifts of our life’s journey. 

It has been a vastly different journey to reach Samoa Language Week this year, with the restrictions imposed by COVID-19, Fa’atili says. 

“It has impacted everything. We were faced with challenges such as limitations under COVID-19 and the rewriting of the narrative around the theme to integrate COVID-19 into the theme,” he says. 

However, Fa’atili says on a positive note, it has provided the opportunity of putting resources and activities on-line for shared use - and this may lead to a new normal for Samoa Language Week in the future. 

One of the main aims of Samoa Language Week is to encourage New Zealanders to embrace the language, culture, and traditions of Samoa, by integrating these things into everyday use. 

“We will do this through speeches, poetry, writing, rap, handicrafts, artwork, performing arts, research, and music (singing). 

“Samoan is worth sustaining and revitalising – why wouldn’t we do this for the third most used New Zealand language.”

Join in the celebration of Gagana Samoa as it begins its second decade with the Pacific Language Weeks programme.

Stay tuned to what is happening on the Gagana Samoa i Aotearoa Facebook page – each of the three community groups have a fantastic programme of events planned.

Visit MPP for more information and resources you can use during Samoa Language Week.