This year’s Tonga Language Week theme of Fakakoloa ‘o Aotearoa aki ‘a e Lotu Mo’oni, which in English means, Enriching Aotearoa New Zealand through prayer and faith is also the theme the Tongan community will use to underpin their COVID-19 response towards economic recovery and rebuild.
Minister for Pacific Peoples Hon Aupito William Sio says in his experience the Tongan community throughout Aotearoa are deeply spiritual people, and this theme reflects their strong faith-based belief system like the rest of the Pacific population.
“It underscores the practicality that faith and works must go hand in hand,” Minister Sio says.
“We have seen this with the Lotofale’ia Parish of the Tongan Synod of the New Zealand Methodist Church, which has been at the forefront of using their lands in Mangere to build houses in partnership with Housing NZ, which has highlighted a church leading by example to address the immediate practical housing needs of its community,” he adds.
One of the best COVID-19 responses the Minister says he has seen is when the main Tongan churches have held off holding mass church meetings and provided other support to their nationwide membership to reduce the risks of community transmission within the Tongan community.
This has been consistent with the safety approaches made by the Catholic Church and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, along with other mainstream churches where online services and home-based family meetings were held instead of mass gatherings.
It is the 10th year of Uike Lea Faka-Tonga, Tonga Language Week and over the over the past decade, Tongan community groups and organisations have employed a range of initiatives and programmes to support and grow the language and culture of Tonga.
Understanding the need to nurture and support their language every day, the Tonga Language Committee launched a Tonga Language Year programme which is now in its fourth year.
The Tonga Language Week programme is being officially launched online on September 5, at 10am, on the NZ Tonga Language Week Facebook page and will run from September 6 to 12.
“I would encourage all New Zealanders to join in the celebration of the Tongan culture and language online and continue to abide by the safety COVID-19 messages and guidelines,” Minister Sio says.
“New Zealand is fortunate to be a country with so many different Pacific languages and cultures.
“We need to fully embrace this diversity and allow it to enrich all of our lives with the diversity of knowledge and experience from across the vast Blue Pacific continent and beyond.”
Visit MPP for more information about Tonga Language Week 2020 including resources.