Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Embracing Vosa Vakaviti across New Zealand

A united approach to Macawa ni Vosa Vakaviti – Fijian Language Week will ensure Vosa Vakaviti is taught and spoken more across New Zealand, Pacific Peoples Barbara Edmonds said today. 

“As a diaspora population, our Pacific languages, culture and identity are more important than ever before,” Minister Edmonds said.

“For this year’s Language Week, we’re celebrating the theme of ‘Me vakabulabulataki, vakamareqeti, ka vakaqaqacotaki na vosa Vakaviti’ which translates to ‘Nurture, Preserve and Sustain the Fijian language’.

“The approach taken for the week aligns with National Fijian Wellbeing Plan initiatives – the result of work between Fijian community leaders and the Ministry of Social Development.

“Fijian communities from around the country have collaborated to plan activities which will involve learning through music, health, and wellbeing. It will also see resources created to support long term language planning.”

Statistics New Zealand data indicates that over 19,700 people in New Zealand identity as Fijian, with 24% speakers of their language.

While 87% of Fijians born overseas can speak Vosa Vokaviti, only 11% of those born in New Zealand can. 

“Each year we’re seeing more regionally based Fijian groups get involved which is hugely empowering to the RSE workers and Fijian families settled in regional communities,” Minister Edmonds said.

“We know this is particularly important after the impact extreme weather events has had on the wellbeing of our Pacific people in affected areas.

“Our role as a community is to be united in nurturing our language through creating environments where Vosa Vakaviti is used by more people and in more spaces.

“This year’s Fijian Language Week takes place during the school term, so I hope we’ll see lots of students and schools involved, as the future of this language lies with the next generation,” she said.

Macawa ni Vosa Vakaviti – Fijian Language Week 2023 runs from 8 – 14 October. Information and resources can be found on the Ministry for Pacific Peoples website.

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