A new Pacific Language Strategy is being underpinned by a united across all-of-Government approach, says Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio.
Minister Sio said the strategy, announced in Parliament on Friday, demonstrates the Government’s commitment to reverse the declining use of Pacific languages in Aotearoa New Zealand, and ensures Pacific languages thrive and prosper for the sake of future generations’ wellbeing.
The Strategy will be implemented through a Pacific Languages Government Action Plan and ethnic-specific Community Language Action Plans, he said.
“An alarming trend has emerged in the past several decades showing the use of Pacific languages is in decline, and many are in danger of being lost,” the Minister said.
“But we are not alone in this journey, and we acknowledge indigenous languages globally, including tangata whenua of Aotearoa, experiencing the journey of loss and hope in championing te reo Māori.
“I am keenly aware of many Pacific young people who whakapapa Māori, and we have a collective responsibility in our families to encourage and support this generation – Generation 6Bs – to be confident and comfortable in both te reo Māori and their heritage Pacific language.”
The Government’s Pacific Languages Strategy 2022 – 2032 was launched in a cultural ceremony which included Minister Sio gifting the strategy to youth leaders.
It is founded on three key objectives:
- To recognise the value of Pacific languages in Aotearoa
- To strengthen pathways and resources for learning, and learning in, Pacific languages
- To see Pacific languages used more often and, in more spaces.
“Our Pacific languages are a taonga for our people and I am calling on our communities to embrace this strategy and to help ensure our reo can be strengthened, celebrated and passed on for many generations to come,” said Minister Sio.
“When Pacific languages are heard, spoken, and celebrated, Pacific communities thrive; and when our Pacific communities thrive, Aotearoa is a better place for all of us. As the home to one of the largest Pacific populations in the world, New Zealand is well-placed to support Pacific languages to thrive.”
The first comprehensive language survey of its kind in Aotearoa, the Leo Moana o Aotearoa project was launched alongside the Pacific Languages Strategy.
It provides a clear picture of Pacific language use and attitudes across all regions, ages, and ethnic groups, said Minister Sio.
The project will be repeated every four years to monitor progress of the Pacific Languages Strategy, and to help to determine where to direct new investment in Pacific languages.
“We have seen through COVID-19 that Pacific languages are fundamental to the survival of Pacific communities.”
“Evidence tells us that when our people are strong in their languages, as well as English, they are more likely to be strong mentally, culturally, academically and economically,” Mr Sio said.