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Tongan Language Week to be celebrated across the country

Hon Hekia Parata

Minister of Pacific Island Affairs

30 August 2013

Tongan Language Week to be celebrated across the country

Pacific Island Affairs Minister Hekia Parata says Tongan Language Week is a great opportunity for the Tongan community to help ensure the preservation of their language and culture in New Zealand.

“Tongan Language Week will run from this weekend on Sunday, from 1 – 8 September with the theme, Fakakoloa Aotearoa ‘aki ‘etau Hiva Fakatonga – Enriching Aotearoa with Tongan Music, providing a strong focus for events around the country. I congratulate the Tongan community for taking great care and ownership of their language and for leading the way for all communities to participate,” says Ms Parata.

“Language is enriching not only because it celebrates diversity but because speaking a second language enhances educational success. Put simply, speaking two languages leads to improved educational outcomes.”

Running from 1 – 8 September 2013, this is the third Pacific Language Week to be held this year following the Samoan and Cook Islands Language Weeks.

“The Tongan community has contributed to New Zealand in every facet of society from academia, arts, sports and culture and Tongan Language Week will provide an opportunity for us to celebrate what our Tongan community brings to New Zealand.

“I encourage you to experience a Tongan Language Week event where you will discover Tongan music, language, culture and contribute to the preserving of Tongan language and culture in New Zealand.”

“I have prepared my colleagues this week by sending all Members of Parliament some key Tongan greetings and sayings for their use during the week. On Monday 2nd September, I will host a Parliamentary Celebration in Parliament for Tonga Language Week in Parliament.”

Tongan Language Week is promoted by the Aotearoa Tongan Teachers Association in partnership with the Human Rights Commission. It is supported by the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs, community members and other organisations.

Census 2006 showed 50,000 Tongans in New Zealand making them the third-largest Pacific group, after Samoans (131,000), and Cook Islanders (58,000). About 80 per cent of Tongans live in Auckland and just over 60 per cent speak the language.

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