Launch of Samoan Language Week, Fale o Samoa, Mangere

Greetings ile Gagana Samoa

Ae oute le’i la’asia le Uluulutao e pei ole tala i ilamutu ole Laoso. O Tamaita’i o Po ma Ao ma lo la’ua fale na tulutulu i tao, ma puipui i tao.

E muamua ona o’u leu le i’u launiu nai le Fale Tuamasaga, na liliu ai le mana’o sa tilialo ole Malietoa. Aua e faigata ua tagata atoa le vao, pei ole tala ile Taua - o le A’ea i Sasa’e.

O lea fo’i ua atoa ile atutia Aliimau o le vaofilifili o Samoa. O ou paia fa’ale talalelei, aua le va’a ole Ipu ma le Sakalameta o le Feagaiga Fou. Lea ua susu le Susuga ia Motu ma le faletua, le paia ile aufaigaluega o le Atua. O paia fa’alemalo, aua Samoa ma Niu Sila ma ona upufai, lea e afio le Konesula o Samoa, le Afioga ia Faolotoi, faapea foi le tamaitai faipule o le Malo Niu Sila.  Ma paia fa’ale Atunu’u, Aua tulatoa ma le ‘aufueloloa o Samoa.

E leai se vave e fia leo lagona iai. Aua o paia le popo, ma mamalu ua o’o, o Paia mai le vavau, e o’o lava ile fa’avavau. E le toe paopaoina i so matou fa’amatalaga. Nu’unu’u atu ia ile fa’autuga o Ali’i.

Vae atu le afio o lau afioga ile Peresetene o FAGASA, lau tofa Fa’atili o lau tofa ile Aliimau o Faleupolu, le fofoga o le Itumalo ma Samoa atoa aua aiga Salevalasi. Fa’apea foi le mamalu ile laulauafono a FAGASA i Aotearoa nei.

Ae magalo ia se leo, ona ole Eleele ua ou tu ai nei, ole Laufanua na sunu’i ai le sailiga malo o le Malo Samoa aua le fa’amaoopoopoina mai o ona tagatanu’u ua e’e ma papa’a’ao i Niu Sila nei, ma ua avea Niu Sila ma ona nofoaga tumau.

Lea ua avea lava lenei fale Samoa i Magele ma fa’ailo o le agaga Saili Malo o Samoa, aua le puna o upu, ma le puna o tala, e taiala ai se taumafaiga a tupulaga lalovaoa ua avea Niu Sila ma latou nofoaga tumau.

A lea ua fai lava fa’alupega o Magele, e mulimulita’i i fa’avae o Samoa. O le faitoto’a o Niu Sila lenei. O le aai e fa’asolo i tagata talavou, aulelei, ma le atamamai. O le aai foi o siamupini o le lalolagi.

E ui lava o Niu Sila ua tatou iai, aua nei galo e maota tauave Samoa. O measina o Samoa, le tatou gagana ma tu fa’aleaganu’u. Ia aua nei galo i fanau laiti - E te tu, savali,nofo, taoto, tautala – o oe o le Samoa.

Poo lea foi lava le lelei o lau gagu, poo sou manatu o oe ua fanau i Atunu’u o Papalagi. O oe o le Samoa! E fiu lava e fa’alafi le tetea, ae aliali lava. O oe ole Samoa. E fiu lava e fa’alafi le tama’imoa, ae ioio mai lava. O oe ole Samoa.

O le mafuaaga tonu lena o le tatou fesilifaiga i lenei afiafi. A lea ua alalaga ai fetu o le afiafi ma pepese fanau o le Atua.

O le taua ma le autu o le Vaiaso o le Gagana Samoa i tausaga taitasi pea, ia fa’amausali le tatou mau fa’atasi:  O oe o le Samoa.

E ao foi ona fa’amanatu pea, ma soona fa’amatu pea, ia tatou tutu fa’atasi e finau ia taofi mau outou alo ma matou fanau ia fa’aaoga pea le gagana i totonu o aiga, ekalesia, galuega, aoga, i soo se mea o Niu Sila nei.

E iai lau galuega e tatau ona faia, fa’aminisita o le malo Niu Sila. E iai foi la outou pito laau e tatau ona fa’atino, ae maise outou le aupopoto ma le au atamamai o le tatou Atunu’u, i mataupu tau a’oao’oga. E iai foi le galuega e tatau pea ona taulamua ai Ekalesia.

E tatau foi ona tatou galulue fa’apaaga ma latou e le malamalama ile tataou gagana ae fia fesoasoani mai.

O le mea lea tapuai maia, sei ou taumafai atu e fa’asoa atu io tatou malo fa’alealoalogia, uo ma e ua masani o loo opogi ma lagolago malosi mai ile Vaiaso o le Gagana Samoa i tausaga ta’itasi, ae maise lenei tausaga 2018.

 A decade of achievement

 Today we celebrate just over a decade of achievement in our efforts to protect and promote the Samoan Language here in Aotearoa, New Zealand through the use of the Samoan Language Week concept.

There is so much we can all be proud of in our collective efforts to recognize our Samoan language and our bilingual talents as a strength.

 Tonight, as we launch the 2018 Samoan Language Week, to end on the 2nd of June, I want us to take time throughout our various events to recognize these efforts and to celebrate it. To appreciate the wonderful sponsors and supporters of our Samoan and Pacific Language Week events through the past many years. To better understand the theme that has been set out for us to learn and appreciate by FAGASA.

 I would also like for us to reflect on the efforts of those who fought and have left us along the way. People like Tofaeono Tanuvasa Tavale, Faimai Tuimauga ma le tina matua ia Iolesina, and so many, many others who have left us.

 I would also like us to visualize what kind of Pacific bilingual language future we want for ourselves, for our children and the future generations of the new Aotearoa, New Zealand that is fast emerging all around us today.

Samoan Language Week— Vaiaso o le Gagana Samoa — was first celebrated in 2007. This was an important turning point for Pacific languages. It put us on the map. It declared that Samoan and other Pacific languages are an important part of the cultural fabric of modern day Aotearoa-New Zealand. 

This would not have been achieved without the hard work and unfailing commitment of Fa’alapotopotonga mo le A’oa’oina o le Gagana Samoa
 I Aotearoa  or F.A.G.A.S.A for short, —Association for the Maintenance and Teaching of the Samoan Language in Aotearoa.

 I thank FAGASA, and its many leaders & members, past and present, who whenever someone would fall, someone else would pick up the banner each time, and would step forward.

 FAGASA - You kept the flame alive. Your passionate belief in the value and importance of our language has made a huge difference. You have heightened the national profile of Samoan as a language and its importance as the basis of our identity as a Samoan community living in New Zealand.

SPONSORS/SUPPORTERS

The success of the Samoan Language Week, so far could not have been achieved if it were not for so many, many supporters and sponsors.

I acknowledge the Samoan teaching fraternity, FAGASA, Fotu a Malama and SAASIA – the Samoan Association for teaching Samoans to Aoga Amata in Aotearoa.

Thank you also to the Pacific Media Network’s Radio NiuFM & 531pi. My gratitude also to our full immersion Radio Samoa 1593AM in Auckland, Samoa Capital Radio in Wellington, and the Samoan Christchurch radio shows using access radio frequencies across NZ, and now social media.

I acknowledge the Human Rights Commission and the Race Relations Commissioner who have been stalwart champions of upholding the rights of Maori and Pasifika languages.

Our Local Boards, local government, schools throughout the country, the many, many public and private sector organisations, and so many others who have joined up the movement to promote and protect the Samoan language.

You’ve all focused on what counts, what’s essential to us as guardians of our language and culture.

O le loto alofa — the things that sustain our very sense of being Samoan. Le loto alofa – a foundation for building strong families, strong communities, and a strong Aotearoa, New Zealand.

The Theme for 2018

The theme for this year’s language week is ‘Alofa atu nei. Alofa mai taeao’ – ‘Kindness given. Kindness gained.’  There is no better foundation for our contribution to this new Aotearoa – New Zealand.

The theme resonates across many cultures but for me personally- Ole loto alofa, is the fatu (heart) of Samoan culture. Where there is no Alofa, families break up and communities suffer. History records many wars in Samoa and the throughout the world, because there is no Alofa. Ole loto Alofa is more than a feeling or a fleeting thought. In the Samoan world, Alofa must be manifested and reciprocated through the practice of ‘Si’i Alofa’ (formal traditional gifting), or Alofa Fa’atino (the manifestation of Alofa through something tangible).

The theme acknowledges the importance and value of reciprocity within the Samoan culture. It is a perfect fit as we embark on transforming New Zealand to become a kinder more caring society.

Reciprocation is a practice based on the foundations principles of Alofa (kindness or love); Ava Fatafata (mutual respect); and the belief that Samoans are one family. That we are all connected, and all our actions, good and bad, have an effect on people and our community.

Reciprocation recognises the existence of our Le Va (sacred boundaries & connections) between people (tagata), environment (siosiomaga) and the spiritual world. It follows the cultural belief that acts of kindness begets acts of kindness, and that the giver of kindness will always be remembered when they are in their hour of need, or in crisis. ‘For he who comes to my aid in my hour of need, is my kin, my body, my blood and flesh – O e e lavea’i ia te a’u i taimi o lo’u puapuaga, o o’u aiga, o lo’u tino, o lo’u toto ma a’ano.

Therefore when everyone shows kindness and acts with care and compassion towards one another, then individuals, aiga, community – nu’u ma le ekalesia, and the country will thrive and everyone benefits.

We have a big part to play in transforming New Zealand. We are the new Aotearoa, New Zealand that is fast emerging all around us.

 Samoan is our third most commonly spoken language. We are the fourth largest ethnic community and account for almost 50% of New Zealand’s Pacific population. The Pacific community is also the most youthful and fastest growing in New Zealand.

Why language is important

We hold great potential for the future. But if we are to realise that potential we must protect and promote our language.

I like to think of the fale as a symbol of this. I see our language, our contribution to the economy, our family & geneaological connections as the foundation of the fale. The posts are everything we want to achieve as modern day Samoan New Zealanders. What we want to achieve socially and economically so that we may all enjoy purposeful and rewarding lives. And the taualuga of the fale, as the all encompassing shelter of what it means to be vibrant and thriving people of Aotearoa, New Zealand.  That we can thrive as a Samoan community, as Pasifika peoples, within the grand fale of the nation. 

 A people is defined by its language and culture. It’s what make us who we are —our ways of perceiving the world and ourselves. Your language and your culture is your identity.

That is what we are here to celebrate today. Speaking Samoan gives you a wider and deeper perception of the world. It gives you confidence in your Samoan identity and heritage. If we lose those elements, we lose our uniqueness, we lose our Le Va, our sacred connectedness to the environment, to the spiritual world. I want us to stay strong, and to push ahead to protect and nourish your heritage. Believe in yourself and take pride in who you are.

Protecting Pacific languages

It is also why, as Minister for Pacific Peoples, I am committed to protecting our Pacific languages.

This year the Pacific Language Week runs through to October and celebrates not just Samoan but seven Pacific languages including, Cook Islands’ Maori, Tongan, Tuvaluan, Fijian, Niuean and Tokelau.

I am committed to finding ways of providing our languages with more formal government recognition.

Options I’m looking at include expanding the work of the Pacific Radio Trust, adopting a more consistent approach to teaching Pacific languages and formal recognition for five Pacific languages; the three New Zealand Realm countries, Niue, Tokelau, Cook Islands, and Tonga and Samoa.

It is not intended that these should compete with Te Reo Maori as an official language. Te Reo Maori will always be the Official National Language with sign language. Rather, I would like to see Pacific languages formally recognised as official community languages that Government is committed to sustaining for the future.

When Parliament returns in 2 weeks time, the Speaker has agreed that he will have non-executive MPs give the Parliamentary prayer in Samoan. He has also agreeable to allow for an MP to say the Parliamentary prayer using the Tongan, Cook islands, Tuvalu and Niuean languages. I am fearful who might be tasked with giving the prayer in the Fijian language.

Success of Samoan Language Week

Samoan Language Week has done much to raise public awareness of the language’s value and importance.

This year language events are being held in schools, libraries, social clubs and other community facilities right across the country.

FAGASA has done a tremendous job in promoting and developing Samoan Language Week but it’s work also extends right throughout the year. These activities are largely community-led. I thank all of you who have given freely of your time and knowledge to make these activities possible and help preserve our languages and cultural heritage.

Fa’afetai ma ia soifua.