From May 12 until May 19, the spotlight will shine on the Rotuman language and culture, and the need to celebrate and preserve it in Aotearoa.
The Rotuman Community of Aotearoa New Zealand is hosting Rotuman Language Week, centred on the theme: ‘Otom Famori, ‘Otom Aga, ‘Otom Fäega - Our People, Our Culture, Our Language, and culminating with an inaugural Rotuma Pasifika Festival, on May 18.
The week-long celebration of Rotuman culture is being organised by the Auckland Rotuman Fellowship Group Incorporated (ARFGI), and is a fully community-led initiative, supported with their resources and funds.
Chairperson for ARFGI Faga Fasala says language is what makes us who we are, and is part of our culture and identity.
“It is our duty to preserve this invaluable taonga,” Faga adds.
This year is also the United Nations International Year of Indigenous Languages, which makes this Language Week even more important.
The Rotuman community hope the week’s activities will help bring people together, and showcase their Pacific island’s unique culture, Faga says.
“Each day of the week has been allocated to the different groups within our community, with elders, youth, sports, diversity and religious leaders hosting their own day.”
Feature events will be the Rotuma Day celebration on May 13, which will include Ate Fak Rotuma – a traditional feast eaten off banana leaves, with everyone sitting together on mats on the floor – and of course the Rotuma Pasifika Festival.
Most of the language week activities will be staged at Auckland’s Western Springs Garden Community Hall.
Meanwhile, NZ Rotuman Fellowship Incorporated is facilitating events such as a youth-hosted Rotuma, te is ‘otomis haharagi – Rotuma, this is our youth at Fale Pasifika, on May 15 (6.30pm-9pm).
On May 18, Rotuman Kato'aga - Celebrating Culture and Language – the main event of the language week – will take place, with Minister for Pacific Peoples Hon. Aupito William Sio among the guests invited.
It is set to be a showcase of beauty through dance as the national groups combine to perform a Tautoga at Te Unga Waka Marae, in Epsom.
Join NZ Rotuman Fellowship Inc or contact NZRF Secretary Lorelena Kulatea Viki on +64 21 844 538 for more information on events happening during the Rotuma Language Week.
Rotuma consists of the island of Rotuma and its nearby islets, and is located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, about 500km north of Fiji, and 500km west of Wallis and Futuna.
It was annexed by the British on May 13, 1881 (Rotuma Day), and although Rotuma is its own nation, it is currently administered by Fiji as a dependency.
The Rotuman language is listed on the UNESCO List of Endangered Languages as "Definitely Endangered".