New Zealand’s future is Pacific, and languages must be part of it

posted: 8:00 pm - 28th October 2019
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(Picture caption: Tokelau Language Week - Te vāiaho o te gagana Tokelau 2019 - the last of seven Pacific Language Weeks - runs from October 28 until November 2.) 

New Zealand’s young Pacific population is growing rapidly, and in the future, it is estimated the nation will look more Pacific, think more Pacific, and speak more Pacific.

At the launch of Tokelau Language Week - Te vāiaho o te gagana Tokelau 2019 on October 29 at Grey Lynn Presbyterian Church, Minister for Pacific Peoples Hon Aupito William Sio says shaping this future for the benefit of all, requires we understand our past.

“To build that understanding, we each need to know what place Pacific languages have here in Aotearoa today; how they have come to face such an uncertain outlook; and why it is so important we continue to speak our languages in future years to come,” Minister Sio says.

Staged from October 27 until November 2, this year’s theme for Tokelau Language Week - Tiutiuga a Tautai ma Figo auā te lumanaki o Fānau or, in English, mastery of traditional knowledge, skills, expertise and leadership help shape the future – encourages us to reflect on the unique place of Aotearoa as a Pacific nation.

What the theme for Tokelau Language Week is asking is we each commit ourselves to ensuring future generations of Pacific people do not lose their identity as they grow and prosper in New Zealand society, Minister Sio says.

“It is saying we have a duty to give them a Pacific cultural foundation from which they can build their future.”

He adds Pacific people in New Zealand have always known embracing their Pacific culture would not hold them back, but rather it would propel them forward.

Minister Sio adds New Zealand is uniquely positioned to build a prosperous Pacific future.  

Tokelau Language Week is the last of seven Pacific Language Weeks supported by the Ministry for Pacific Peoples (MPP), who is pleased with the way in which New Zealanders have embraced Pacific languages weeks this year.

“Celebrations have taken place in workplaces, communities, libraries and schools across the country and it has been inspiring to see so many people take time to learn some simple words and phrases,” Minister Sio says.

“From this can come a deeper appreciation of the depth of meaning and the cultural importance of our Pacific languages, and because of the success of Pacific language weeks this year, more people understand that protecting, nurturing and growing our Pacific languages is a job for all of us.”

Visit MPP for more information.