Pacific languages ground us

posted: 8:15 pm - 13th October 2019
Niue Poster 2019 2

(Picture caption: Niue Language Week - Faahi tapu he vagahau Niue 2019 runs until October 19. Visit MPP for more information and resources you can use to get involved.) 

Language can be a source of strength for Pacific peoples; it can help ground people; and boost their confidence. 

Minister for Pacific Peoples Hon Aupito William Sio says when we speak them, our languages provide us with an immediate and intimate access to our identity and our story. 

“From this comes a clear sense of belonging and that is what the theme for Niue Language Week says to me,” he says. 

This year’s theme for Niue Language Week - Faahi tapu he vagahau Niue is Tokiofa, Ofania, Mokoina e Vagahau Niue, or, in English, Treasure, Love and Cherish the Niue Language.

Fale Pasifika at the University of Auckland set the backdrop for the official launch of Niue Language Week, which will provide people with an opportunity to connect with the history, community, and culture of the beautiful island nation. 

“Most of the people who can trace all, or part, of their ancestry back to Niue now live here in Aotearoa New Zealand,” Minister Sio says. 

“We should remember when they, or their ancestors, left Niue to come to Aotearoa, they brought their language and the stories it holds with them, and we have a chance to pay tribute to these people and those who have continued to ensure this beautiful language has a home here Aotearoa.” 

Niue Language Week is the sixth of seven Pacific language weeks taking place in 2019 and it will run until October 19.

The word “Pacific” is used to identify a group of people from the vast Blue Pacific continent, made up of many different nations spanning thousands of miles.

When we do this, we can often forget the huge diversity in language, culture and custom that exists across the Pacific, Minister Sio says.

“We are lucky in Aotearoa New Zealand, we can find much of this diversity in our communities, our homes and our workplaces.

“Learning more about the many languages spoken here is something we can all do; and it would enable us to talk about our shared history in ways that have greater meaning and significance, connecting us all and our various identities to places and peoples and events.”

Aotearoa is a Pacific nation, not just geographically, but culturally and historically too.

With a rapidly growing young Pacific population, its future is going to be shaped more and more by the Pacific.

“Like any small language, Niue has always sought new ways to be heard,” Minister Sio says.

“This week we have a chance to open these opportunities so a broader audience can hear this wonderful language and see the huge contribution Niue can play in shaping the future of Aotearoa.”