Kiribati communities are gearing up to celebrate Tungaru language this week, as Wikin te Taetae ni Kiribati – Kiribati Language Week 2023 gets underway.
“Our Language Week Series provides an opportunity for all i-Kiribati people to celebrate culture, identity and language of the islands,” said Pacific Peoples Minister, Barbara Edmonds.
“This year the theme for the week is ‘Ribanan, karikirakean ao kateimatoan ara katei ma ara taetae ni Tungaru’ which translates to ‘Nurture, enhance and sustain the Tungaru language and culture.’
“Tungaru is the name given to the people of Kiribati by their ancestors, with the Tungaru culture and language playing a pivotal role in identity and wellbeing.
“Of the 3,225 i-Kiribati people who call New Zealand home, 50 percent speak the Tungaru, 20 percent of those born here can speak it, and 24 percent under the age of 15 speak the language,” the Minister said.
“There is a real push by Kiribati groups around the country to keep increasing these statistics, and continue highlighting the importance of sustaining language and culture for next generation.
“Our 2022 Pacific Languages Strategy illustrates that investing in, and growing Pacific bilingual and multilingual speakers is hugely beneficial for Aotearoa.
“It will help lift educational outcomes, enhance employment and earning opportunities, create cultural connections that improve wellbeing, and build the confidence and identity of our Pacific peoples.”
Budget 2023 included an investment of $13.3 million to progress the strategy.
“This week Kiribati groups will be hosting in-person and online events focused on learning Tungaru language through cultural practices, storytelling, crafts, dance and music. A highlight of the week will also include celebrations for Kiribati Independence Day on July 12.”
“I want to encourage all Kiwis to get behind Kiribati Language Week and learn something new about our Pacific neighbours – such as the greetings Mauri (welcome), Ko rabwa (thank you), and Ti a bo (goodbye),” Ms Edmonds said.
Kiribati Language Week runs from 9 to 15 July. More information and resources can be found on the Ministry for Pacific Peoples website.