Nelly Cowan has always been intensely aware of the importance language plays in one’s life, having learnt Te Reo Māori from a young age.
Of Māori (Ngati Porou) and Rarotongan descent, Nelly grew up in Wainuiomata, where she attended Kohanga Reo,Kura Kaupapa Māori and Rumaki reo Māori unit at Wanuiomata High School.
In March this year, Nelly took up a role as Senior Advisor - Languages, Policy, Research and Evaluation at the Ministry for Pacific Peoples – not long before the Covid-19 lockdown hit.
It was challenging working from home at times and less than ideal for starting a new role, Nelly says.
However, Nelly has already made waves within the Ministry, with her unfaltering vision to see Pacific people in Aotearoa value their languages and cultures.
“It is my aspiration to see this happen… it is never too late to learn and or pass on language knowledge,” she says.
This aligns with goal one of Lalanga Fou, and the Ministry’s vision to Thriving Pacific Languages, Cultures and Identities throughout New Zealand.
Nelly has contributed to MPP’s goals by helping to set up the Community Language Fund.
The fund supports community initiatives targeted towards Pacific community groups and Pacific families; and which share and pass on Pacific language knowledge; enable accessibility to Pacific language learning; increase the awareness and value of Pacific languages in Aotearoa; and help to increase and grow the number of speakers of Pacific languages in New Zealand.
With Pacific languages in decline both in Aotearoa and abroad, there is a general recognition languages are important for Pacific peoples’ cultural identity and languages and culture are related to a Pacific persons’ sense of belonging and potential to participate with confidence in society.
This funding scheme, along with other initiatives as part of the Ministry’s languages work programme, is aimed at addressing this decline.
With initiatives like MPP’s Community Language Fund, combined with Nelly’s passion and drive, the support is in place to see Pacific languages flourish here in Aotearoa.
Work for MPP
The Ministry for Pacific Peoples is currently seeking a Manager – Community Engagement and Operations – Languages, based in Wellington (secondment or fixed term 12 months).
As a positive and inclusive programme leader, you will manage your team to ensure a seamless and quality delivery of Pacific Language priorities and work programmes are delivered into our Pacific communities.
If you would like more information please email [email protected] quoting the position title in the subject.
Applications close on September 17, at 11.59pm.
Visit MPP for current vacancies.