Monday, February 26, 2024

Niue language ‘vulnerable’ says Minister

The people of Niue have reached a crossroads where the status of the Vagahau Niue language is considered vulnerable and revitalising it is essential for its survival, says Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio.

“Vagahau Niue has been registered with UNESCO as an endangered language, so a challenge we face is the preservation of Vagahau Niue and Niue culture,” the Minister said.

“It is vital we preserve, sustain and maintain Vagahau Niue and its culture for many generations to come.”

This year’s language week theme, ‘Fakatūleva e Vagahau Niue mo e Tau Aga Fakamotu ma e Tau Atuhau, or in English, Sustain Niue Language and Culture for Future Generations’, sums up the importance of preserving the language of Niue now.

According to the 2018 Census, 30,867 Niue people live in Aotearoa New Zealand, and the population in Niue was 1,620.

As a realm nation of Aotearoa, the New Zealand Government is committed to ensuring the wellbeing needs of the large Niue population residing in New Zealand are met, the Minister said.

“­During research consultation in preparation of the Pacific Languages Strategy, the Niue community expressed concern around the decline of Niue people who can speak or use Vagahau Niue, and identified more support in the education curriculum was needed,” he said.

“That’s why this Government invested $20m from Budget 2021 to support Pacific bilingual units, that include Niue as an NCEA subject. This is to develop a Pacific bilingual language education policy within the context of the Action Plan for Pacific Education.

“Meanwhile, young New Zealand-born Niueans told the Ministry for Pacific Peoples (MPP) that Vagahau Niue and Niue culture are avenues to stay connected with their parents and grandparents; these things provide a sense of identity.

“The loss of language is a very real worry for Niue people, so Niue leaders and community groups are working hard to explore, discuss and formulate strategies to ensure Vagahau Niue and the Niuean culture is protected and sustained for future generations.

“I want to assure our Pacific communities that we hear you. We hear the passion and commitment you have for our languages. We hear the call for better pathways in our education system that draw on our Pacific languages as keys to success. That’s why this Government launched the first ever Pacific Language Strategy to ensure Vagahau Niue thrives and flourishes,” Minister Sio said.

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