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Tuvalu Language Week celebrates culture and heritage

Hon Aupito William Sio

Minister for Pacific Peoples

28 September 2018

The theme for Tuvalu Language Week 2018 is “Tuvalu faka’na ki te Atua. Fakatumau au tu mo faifaiga. Tautua mo Aotearoa”. “Tuvalu, trust in God. Nurture your cultural values and heritage. Serve Aotearoa”.

“The Tuvalu community is one of our smallest Pacific communities but what they lack in size they certainly make up for in energy. This year language week events are scheduled in Auckland, Wellington, Kapiti and Horowhenua and radio stations will also be broadcasting Tuvalu language programmes. This is a tremendous achievement for such a small community,” says Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito William Sio.

Tuvalu Language Week runs from Sunday 30 September to Saturday 6 October. It is the fourth in a series of seven Pacific Language Weeks the Ministry of Pacific Peoples is supporting this year.

New Zealand’s Tuvalu community is just over three and a half thousand people. With a median age of just over 19 years it is also one of New Zealand’s youngest.

“With such a small and young population Tuvalu’s unique language and culture is particularly vulnerable. Protecting it presents special challenges but the community is resilient with just over 63 percent speaking the language. This is a good showing but it is down three percent from the 2006 census. That’s a small decline but it’s one I’d like to see reversed.

“Almost half of Tuvaluans are also New Zealand born and this trend is bound to increase in the years ahead. That’s why events such as Tuvalu Language Week are so important. It’s an opportunity for young people to connect with their language and heritage.

Tuvalu is one of the world’s smallest nations and the language is classified by UNESCO as vulnerable. Its current population is around 11,000. It comprises nine islands covering a land area of just 24 square kilometres. Its six atolls and three reef islands are scattered over a vast area the Pacific. Its Exclusive Economic Zone covers almost a million square kilometres of ocean.

“This year’s Tuvalu Language Week also marks the 40th anniversary of independence so it’s a double celebration. Although it’s a small nation Tuvalu has taken the lead in promoting global awareness of Climate Change. This is the challenge of our time and Tuvalu’s success on the international stage proves that small nations can make a difference.

During this year’s Tuvalu Language Week, the community will also be launching the Tuvaluan version of the Rt Hon Sir Tomasi Puapua’s autobiography. Sir Tomasi is a former Prime Minister and Governor-General of Tuvalu.

“Tuvalu has an enviable record as modern parliamentary democracy and Sir Tomasi has done much to establish that record. Publishing his autobiography in Tuvalu is a splendid way to mark both Tuvalu Language Week and this historic anniversary of independence,” says Aupito William Sio.


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