This year’s Uike Kātoanga’i ‘o e lea faka-Tonga - Tonga Language Week, from September 5 until September 11, will be a virtual affair due to nationwide lockdowns for COVID-19.
Pacific Peoples Minister Aupito William Sio says the Ministry for Pacific Peoples (MPP) has been working closely with the Tongan community ahead of Tonga Language Week, the fifth of nine Pacific Language Weeks to be held this year.
“The community has selected the theme Fakakoloa 'o Aotearoa 'aki 'a e Ako Lelei,” Minister Sio says.
“In English, it means, Enriching Aotearoa New Zealand with education - of course, right now, learning the traditional way – such as attending school or university – is on hold due to the current COVID-19 restrictions.
“Alert Level 4 and 3 means students must learn from home and follow the golden rules: Stay in your bubble, unless you are getting vaccinated, visiting the supermarket or pharmacy, getting urgent medical care; exercising in your neighbourhood, getting a COVID test; or going to work if you are an Alert Level 4 worker and cannot work from home.”
The simplest thing New Zealanders can do to stop the spread of this virus is to stay at home this Language week and go virtual, he adds.
“Education is highly valued in the Kingdom of Tonga and this year’s Tonga Language Week explores the importance of education and how Aotearoa can benefit.
“In fact, Tongans have one of the highest rates of PhDs per head of population.
“Education completes the picture for many people – this knowledge gives them a sense of wholeness, and confidence in their own identity.”
Tongans make up 1.7 percent of New Zealand's population, with our Pacific population expected to reach 414,000 this year.
“By nurturing the language, we nurture the culture, its people and their place in Pacific Aotearoa,” Minister Sio says.