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Tokelau Easter Festival

Friday 21 March 2008 Speech

Tokelau Easter Festival

Winnie Laban with (from left) National Tokelau Association President Tea Aleki Aloisio, and Tokelauan elders Meleane Posini and Foai Foai from Hawaii who are participating in the weekend tournament.


Walter Nash Stadium, Tocker Street, Taita

Malo Ni, te mahutaga tupulaga Tokelau, na malo fakapitoa i matua, temana ma fanau tokelau.

Le mai te pua gagana Tokelau - "Te Uia te ao, Te Uia te po"

Taloha Ni, Talofa Lava, Malo e lelei, Kia orana, Fakaalofa lahi atu, Ni sa bula vinaka, Gud de tru olgeta, Kia ora tatou and Warm Pacific Greetings to you all this evening.

Firstly I wish to thank the organisers from the Tokelau Hutt Valley Sports & Culture Association for inviting me to speak today. It’s an honour to be invited to an event that has its roots firmly in the Easter tradition of gathering.

Thank you our MC's Filipo Lui and Nive Ahelemo for such a wonderful introduction.

I would like to acknowledge our dignitaries and guests - thank you for taking the time to support this wonderful event.

To the elders of the Tokelau Community - I’m sure way back at the first Easter Tournaments in the 1970s, when the first rugby game was played between Tokelau communities, you were on the field showing your prowess. As you sit back now and cheer on your families you can be proud of what’s been achieved.

My great-great-grandfather migrated from Tokelau to Samoa for a better life – that was a giant leap for him I’m sure.

And I’m standing here as testament to his courage – as your children and grandchildren are for you.

Winnie Laban with (from left) Leilanah Suailua, Divah-Shane Laulu, and Keelah Vaovasa from Porirua who are participating in the sports and cultural events at the Tokelau national tournament over Easter.



In New Zealand we have a thriving Tokelauan community – just over 6,800 people. Tokelauans make up New Zealand’s 6th largest Pacific Island community. And around 50 per cent of our Tokelauan community in New Zealand live in the Wellington region.

It is a young population and it is growing.

The population grew by 10 per cent between 2001 and 2006, and the median age of a Tokelauan New Zealander is 19 years – compared with 36 years for the total New Zealand population.
The gathering this Easter reflects the traditional components of fakaTokelau – the core foundation being family – and I know you have adapted this to reflect the rapidly increasing Tokelau youth population of New Zealand.

As Pacific Island Affairs Minister, I know that our young people here today have a very critical role to play in the well-being of our country now and into the future. Our Pacific people are youthful, urban-centred and growing in number.

Your youth are energetic, thriving and full of potential.

Lifting our young' people's participation and achievement in education and training is vital so that they can fully contribute and share in New Zealand's success.

I am excited for our youth by policies like SchoolsPlus. Providing for all young people in school or some form of education or training until the age of eighteen is particularly good news for our Pacific youth and Pacific communities.

Our Labour-led government wants to ensure that our Pacific people are fully equipped to contribute to, and share in, the future economic success of New Zealand. Last year we launched the Pacific Economic Action Plan and the Pacific Women's Economic Development Plan aimed a lifting the economic potential and prosperity of Pacific people in New Zealand over the next decade.

Labour values your contribution, and indeed that which all Pacific communities make to New Zealand’s National Identity.

Last year we launched the Mind your Language project in response to low rates of language retention amongst our Tokelau, Niue and Cook Islands communities in New Zealand.

Today’s event reminds us all that our Pacific languages and Pacific identity are what make our communities special.


These festivals have been around for a long time. They began as Easter Tournaments involving rugby games and have blossomed into the first official Easter Tournament in Auckland in 1981. A year later Hutt Valley was the host and included netball in with the rugby.

Now these ‘Easter Tournies’ are world famous in the Hutt Valley.

This is the 14th Festival hosted by the Hutt Valley. I grew up around these parts and know a thing or two about the reputation of the Hutt Valley Tokelauans, they are a force to be reckoned with! Watch out Auckland!

But its not only sport and performances you will celebrate this Easter.

The Tokelau Hutt Valley Sports and Culture Association has made sure that there are activities organised to meet the objectives you have set for yourselves on youth development through sports participation, role modelling of Tokelau leaders, parents and elders.

You are visionary in your approach to spending this important time as not only a celebration, but also as a time to learn, to teach and to join in spirit.

To our young people here today - be proud of your heritage, your values and your traditions.

I know you are eager to get on with the proceedings.

Ke Manuia te mafutaga a tupulaga i te alha o te Atua


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