(Picture caption: Welcome to Uike Lea Faka-Tonga – Tonga Language Week 2023. Visit the MPP website for information and resources to use throughout the week-long event.)
New Zealand’s Tongan community are coming together to promote language sustainability this week, as Uike Lea Faka-Tonga – Tonga Language Week begins.
Minister for Pacific Peoples Hon Barbara Edmonds says for our Pacific communities, language is more than just a means of communication.
“It’s an important way to link generations and maintain connections to our ancestral roots,” Minister Edmonds says.
“This year’s focus is on language sustainability through the theme of 'E tu'uloa 'a e Lea Faka-Tongá 'o ka lea’aki 'i 'api, siasi (lotú), mo e nofo-'a-kāingá, which means, the Tongan Language will be sustainable if used at home, church and in the wider community.
“We’ve heard from our Tongan community that grassroots initiatives, speaking Lea Faka-Tonga at home, and total immersion in culture are important to strengthen and maintain language.”
Statistics New Zealand data shows Tongans are our fastest-growing Pacific population with over 82,000 calling New Zealand home.
Within this group, 40 percent speak the language and only 12 percent under the age of 15 can.
Minister Edmonds says the statistics emphasise the need to understand lea faka-Tonga and use it as much as possible in the home, school, church and the wider community.
Inspired by the UNESCO Decade of Indigenous Languages theme to sustain and revitalise heritage languages, the 2023 Pacific Languages Weeks series works to preserve, revitalise, and promote languages.
“We believe our Pacific communities are vital to the diversity and culture of New Zealand,” the Minister adds.
“There will be a range of activities this week including workshops, storytelling, and activities focused on cooking, dance, and arts and crafts.
“I’m encouraging everyone to join in and celebrate the language and culture of our Tongan community.
“Through our ongoing support of the Language Week series, we’re demonstrating our commitment to ensuring all Pacific peoples thrive.”
Tonga Language Week runs from September 3-9.
Visit the MPP website for more information and resources.