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NZ’s future is Pacific and languages must be part of it

Tokelau Language Week starts today and the theme encourages us to reflect on the unique place of Aotearoa as a Pacific nation, now and in the future.

“We are changing as a nation. Our young Pacific population is among the fastest growing in the country, so much so, that in the future, it is estimated that as a nation we will look more Pacific, we will think more Pacific, and we will speak more Pacific,” says Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito William Sio.

“Shaping this future for the benefit of all, requires that we understand our past. And to build that understanding, we each need to know what place Pacific languages have here in Aotearoa today, how they have come to face such an uncertain outlook, and why it is so important that we continue to speak our languages in future years to come.

Tokelau Language Week is the last of seven Pacific Language Weeks that have taken place in 2019 and will run from Sunday 27 October to Saturday 2 November.

The theme for this year’s Tokelau Language Week is Tiutiuga a Tautai ma Figo auā te lumanaki o Fānau or, in English, mastery of traditional knowledge, skills, expertise and leadership help shape the future.

“For me, what the theme for Tokelau Language Week is asking is that we each commit ourselves to ensuring future generations of Pacific people do not lose their identity as they grow and prosper in New Zealand society. It is saying that we have a duty to give them a Pacific cultural foundation from which they can build their future.

“We have always known that embracing our Pacific culture would not hold us back, rather it will propel us forward. Because of the decisions we have taken as a government, we are uniquely positioned to build a prosperous Pacific future for Aotearoa.

“We have been delighted with the way in which New Zealanders have embraced Pacific languages weeks this year. Celebrations have taken place in workplaces, communities, libraries and schools across the country.

“It has been inspiring to see so many people take time to learn some simple words and phrases. From this can come a deeper appreciation of the depth of meaning and the cultural importance of our Pacific languages. Because of the success of Pacific language weeks this year, more people understand that protecting, nurturing and growing our Pacific languages is a job for all of us,” says Aupito William Sio.

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