The 2019 Fijian Language Week theme reminds us how important it is to have something to anchor ourselves to says Minister for Pacific Peoples Hon Aupito William Sio.
“We all need something which helps us pause and feel in control in a rapidly changing world,” Minister Sio adds.
The theme for this year’s Fijian Language Week, which starts on October 6 and runs until October 12, is noqu vosa ai takele ni noqui tovo, or, in English, my language anchors my culture.
Fijian Language Week is the fifth of seven Pacific language weeks planned for 2019.
“Family, culture, faith, whatever it may be, we all need a way to pause, reflect and regroup before we keep going.
“We need these moments so we can connect with our roots, to our origins, our foundations and to the places where our stories began.”
For Pacific people, one of the most powerful anchors that helps to connect them with their roots is language.
Language is our strength; it is our grounding, our confidence, Minister Sio continues.
“When it is spoken and understood, it can give us an immediate and intimate access to our identity and our story – and from this comes a clear sense of belonging.”
Language can provide a sense of self because it helps teach people where they come from, what they have been through and the values they hold onto throughout.
“That’s why we not only want to preserve our Pacific languages for ourselves but to pass on the protection they provide to our children,” the Minister says.
As part of the Wellbeing Budget, the Government has allocated $20 million over the next four years to ensure Aotearoa New Zealand is home to thriving Pacific languages.
The priority here is to make sure future generations of Pacific people do not lose their identity as they grow and prosper in New Zealand society, Minister Sio says.
“It is to give them a cultural foundation from which they can build their future.
“Our children’s story will be different to our own, but we still share the same anchor.
“These roots cannot ever be removed, we can only continue to grow from them and that’s what the theme for Fijian Language Week says to me and I am delighted to be able to share it with you,” he says.
Fijian Language Week was officially launched by Minister Sio on Saturday, in Christchurch.