The newly established Hata Committee is anticipating a more united and community-inspired Rotuman Language Week in 2021.
Rotuman Language Week is the first of the nine Ministry for Pacific Peoples supported Pacific Language Weeks to be staged this year.
Having got underway yesterday (May 9) with a launch Auckland War Memorial Museum, the approximately 1,000-strong Rotuman community in Aotearoa is looking forward to seven days of activities and celebrations.
Chair of the New Zealand Rotuman Fellowship and a Hata Committee member, Maria Fuata (pictured) has been instrumental in the planning and coordinating of Rotuman Language Week, working closely alongside MPP.
Formed this year, the Hata Committee is a collaboration of representatives from the wider Rotuman community in New Zealand, including church groups.
It is a result of MPP’s Review of Pacific Language Weeks, where it engaged with Pacific communities and captured groups and individuals’ recommendations on how to improve the Pacific Language Weeks series.
This year is essentially a transitional phase, which will allow MPP and Pacific communities to test out how future series will look, before the 2022 Refresh.
Maria says the Hata Committee was formed with the overarching purpose of bringing the community together to celebrate Rotuman Language Week as a collective.
“We have been blessed with the support of MPP and other key stakeholders such as the Auckland War Memorial Museum and Te Papa Tongarewa,” she adds.
The committee and the community as a whole have high hopes for this year’s Rotuman Language Week, the second year celebrating it as an official MPP Pacific Language Week.
“Last year was a huge success as our first official Rotuman Language Week which was the first to celebrate via the online format due to COVID-19,” Maria says.
“So, this year is proving to be a highly anticipated week as we hope to celebrate together in person celebrating our unique language and culture but also sharing it with our wider Pacific aiga in New Zealand.
“In light of the recent lockdown in Fiji and Rotuma, we are also hoping to share a lot of our content online to help cheer up our fellow Rotumans back home who will not be able to come together for their annual Rotuma Day katoaga.”
In efforts to include Rotumans across New Zealand, the Wellington Rotuman Community will provide the feature event on Rotuma Day (May 13) at Te Papa Tongarewa.
“The New Zealand Rotuman Fellowship (NZRF) Wellington group is leading that event in partnership with Te Papa, and we are so excited about this milestone, particularly as we celebrate 140 years since Rotuma became a political dependant of Fiji.
“Our Auckland families are also celebrating Rotuma Day with a family fun night hosting quizzes and competition with the battle of the seven Rotuman districts at Pasifika Education Centre (PEC), Manukau.”
In this year of transition for Pacific Language Weeks, Maria says a priority for the Hata Committee was getting the community together to celebrate our language and culture in a more cohesive way during Rotuman Language Week.
“This includes our communities in the South island – as we are a small community in New Zealand, working together enables us to do more as a collective and reach our people better.”
It is a win being able to bring the Rotuman community together to unite and celebrate Rotuman Language Week as one people in New Zealand, Maria continues.
“There are learnings to be had but we are positive and encouraged by what we have achieved so far as a small community in Aotearoa.”