29 May – 4 June marks Samoan Language Week, the first of 7 language weeks dedicated to celebrating Pacific languages in New Zealand, which began in 2007. The Ministry for Pacific Peoples, the Human Rights Commission, other government departments and various organisations work together with Pacific communities to promote these heritage languages and the importance of keeping them alive. The existence of these language weeks highlights the fact that the Pasifika population in Aotearoa is growing steadily and will play a huge role in the future of the country. As well as that, these language weeks encourage us to learn about the history of Pasifika peoples in this country.
Each language week has a theme (and an official poster, disseminated by the Ministry for Pacific Peoples), which acts as a guide for communities when planning activities and events. However, the theme is not intended to limit what people can do as exploration of any aspect of that particular Pacific culture is highly encouraged. If anything, these language weeks act as a platform upon which a deeper understanding of Pacific cultures can be achieved – whether it’s through food, song and dance or through history, art, politics and writing.
The theme for Samoan Language Week is “E felelei manu, ae ma’au i o latou ofaga: Birds migrate to environments where they survive and thrive.” For the first time since its inception, a new language week resource has been co-created by Te Papa Museum and the Ministry for Pacific Peoples. In that resource, there are suggestions about what people might do to celebrate Samoan Language Week and also an explanation of the theme.
Here are the dates for the other 6 Pacific language weeks:
- Cook Islands: Sunday 31 July – Saturday 6 August
- Tonga: Sunday 4 September – Saturday 10 September
- Tuvalu: Sunday 25 September – Saturday 1 October
- Fiji: Monday 3 October – Sunday 9 October
- Niue: Sunday 16 October – Saturday 22 October
- Tokelau: Sunday 23 October – Saturday 29 October
If you’re interested in finding out more about these language weeks, a Google search should do the trick! Otherwise, contact our Pasifika Directorate for more info. In the meantime, ask your Samoan friends to teach you some basic words or phrases, listen to some Samoan sounds or watch Samoan videos on YouTube. Learning about different cultures is always a rewarding and fun experience, and these language weeks are totally the best excuse to do so.
Fa’afetai tele lava!! Ia manuia tele le Vaiaso o le Gagana Samoa.