Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Tongan Language Week begins

New Zealand’s Tongan community will come together this week to promote language sustainability, as Uike Lea Faka-Tonga – Tongan Language Week begins. 

“For our Pacific communities, language is more than just a means of communication. It’s an important way to link generations and maintain connections to our ancestral roots,” said Pacific Peoples Minister, Barbara Edmonds.

“This year’s focus is on language sustainability through the theme of ‘E tu’uloa ‘a e Lea Faka-Tongá ‘o ka lea’aki ‘i ‘api, siasi (lotú), mo e nofo-‘a-kāingá’ which means ‘the Tongan Language will be sustainable if used at home, church and in the wider community’.

“We’ve heard from our Tongan community that grassroots initiatives, speaking Lea Faka-Tonga at home, and total immersion in culture are important to strengthen and maintain language.”

Stats New Zealand data shows that Tongans are the country’s fastest-growing Pacific population with over 82,000 calling New Zealand home. Within this group, 40% speak the language and only 12% under the age of 15 can.

“These statistics emphasise the need to understand lea Faka-Tonga and use it as much as possible in the home, school, church and the wider community,” said Minister Edmonds.

“The Government believes our Pacific communities are vital to the diversity and culture of New Zealand.

“There will be a range of activities this week including workshops, storytelling, and activities focused on cooking, dance, and arts and crafts. I’m encouraging everyone to join in and celebrate the language and culture of our Tongan community.

“Through our ongoing support of the Language Week series, we’re demonstrating our commitment to ensuring all Pacific peoples thrive,” she said.  

Tonga Language Week runs from 3 September to 9 September. More information and resources can be found on the Ministry for Pacific Peoples website.

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