Year of transition for Pacific Language Weeks

Pacific Peoples

Pacific languages, cultures and identity are essential to the health and wellbeing of Pacific peoples in Aotearoa New Zealand, says Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito William Sio.

“Language is the key to the definition of our overall Pacific wellbeing.”

This year, the Ministry for Pacific Peoples (MPP) will be supporting nine Pacific Language Weeks driven by Pacific communities.

“Language is fundamental to providing Pacific peoples with an anchor to their identity, confidence, and safety as we navigate our way through the economic and social challenges ahead post the COVID-19 pandemic,” Minister Sio says.

In 2020, Pacific Communities displayed their resilience to the COVID-19 environment by moving Language Week activities online. This year will build on last year’s digital successes and with the option to continue online delivery.

According to comparisons from Census 2013 to Census 2018, the proportion of speakers of Pacific languages has declined across the board.

Minister Sio says this loss of language means the loss of history and a wealth of cultural knowledge and intelligence. “It disconnects our past from our present, and will disadvantage future Pacific generations.”

“The 2019 Wellbeing Budget recognised this and provided  $20 million over four years toward the support of Pacific languages and cultures. This will fund initiatives critical to reversing the decline in the use of Pacific languages.”

Recently, MPP carried out the Pacific Language Weeks Tivaivai Review, which has highlighted the changes community groups want to see in the annual celebrations of our nine Pacific languages.

This year signals a year of transition for the Pacific Language Weeks series, MPP will be assessing a themed approach, increase in funding and announcing Language Champion Honours..

Although officially termed “Language Weeks”, many have extended activities throughout the year with language funding support provided by MPP to enable year-long language learning initiatives, which are led by our Pacific communities throughout Aotearoa, New Zealand.

“Vaiaso o le Gagana Samoa began in 2007 founded by Fa’alapotopotoga mo le A’oa’oina o le Gagana Samoa i Aotearoa (FAGASA). In 2009 the Human Rights Commission came on board to support the communities. The Ministry have been supporting Pacific Language Weeks since 2010 and have since grown year on year, promoting and raising awareness of the diversity of our Pacific Languages,” says Aupito William Sio.

Language Week Dates 2021:

  • Rotuman Language Week: Sunday 9 May – Saturday 15 May 2021
  • Samoa Language Week: Sunday 30 May – Saturday 05 June 2021
  • Kiribati Language Week: Sunday 11 July – Saturday 17 July 2021
  • Cook Islands Language Week: Sunday 01 August – Saturday 07 August 2021
  • Tonga Language Week: Sunday 05 September – Saturday 11 September 2021
  • Tuvalu Language Week: Sunday 26 September – Saturday 02 October 2021
  • Fijian Language Week: Sunday 03 October – Saturday 09 October 2021
  • Niue Language Week: Sunday 17 October – Saturday 23 October 2021
  • Tokelau Language Week: Sunday 24 October – Saturday 30 October 2021.

Visit MPP for further information and resources as they become available.