Climate change continues to present a major risk for the island nation of Tuvalu, which means sustaining te gana Tuvalu both on home soil and in New Zealand Aotearoa has never been more important, says Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio.
The Tuvalu Auckland Community Trust and wider Tuvalu community have selected the Vaiaso o te Gana Tuvalu – Tuvalu Language Week 2022 – theme, Fakamautu ke mautakitaki te gagana Tuvalu mo te atafai, fakaaloalo mo te amanaiagina.
“This translates as, ‘Nurture with sustainability the Tuvalu language, with care, respect and dignity’,” the Minister said.
“This theme also links to the 2022 Pacific Language Weeks overarching topic of sustainability and the launch of the UNESCO Decade of Indigenous languages; as well as the Government’s Pacific Languages Strategy which was launched on Friday.”
“Of those residing in New Zealand, 48% use te gana Tuvalu; while 33% of New Zealand-born Tuvaluans can speak their own language.”
With a 4,653-strong population in New Zealand, it’s important to ensure the Tuvalu language, culture and identity continues to be sustainable in Aotearoa as well, he said.
Tuvalu consists of nine inhabited islands with a population of approximately 11,000. The importance of sustaining te gana Tuvalu is heightened by the unique challenges the planet’s fourth-smallest nation faces with climate change, said Minister Sio.
“I can think of lots of examples where Tuvaluan people come together to speak and utilise their language, through communal gatherings – fakaala, traditional forms of dancing – fatele, songs or pese, lotu and church,” he said.
“The time to act is now, not only in doing our bit to reduce the impact of climate change on our Pacific neighbours, but to support the language, culture and traditions of Tuvalu to ensure its people thrive.
“One way to do that, is get involved in Tuvalu Language Week and immerse yourself in language learning through traditional dancing, songs, cooking, online-videos, teachings, church services and youth activities.”