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Tokelau Language Week Reminds Us To Stay United And Strong

Staying strong in the face of challenges and being true to our heritage and languages are key to preserving our cultural identity and wellbeing, is the focus of the 2020 Tokelau Language Week.

Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio, says this year’s theme, ‘Apoapo tau foe, i nā tāfea i te galutau. Ke mau mai, ke mau mai’, which means, ‘Never give up hope, even amidst chaos and much uncertainty. Stay united, stay strong’ is a timely reminder considering the difficult times communities have faced due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

“It reminds us we must never surrender to the challenges we face in our lives, but instead we must persevere and overcome them,” says Aupito William Sio.

“The relationship between heritage and language is critical for our Pacific communities to realise their fullest potential of becoming modern-day navigators and explorers, creators and innovators.

“The greatest treasure of Pacific Aotearoa is our cultural heritage which gives us confidence and a unique insight to develop innovative ways to address the challenges we face today.

“Pacific communities have drawn on their confidence and insight, utilising digital technologies such as social media and streamed events to deliver the Pacific Language Weeks programme in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak. They have not only succeeded in that delivery they have expanded the reach beyond Aotearoa, through the Pacific and to the rest of the world.

“This work has been vital to the growth and future of our Pacific languages and cultures and to the health and wellbeing of our Pacific communities. We know that embracing our Pacific cultures and languages will not hold us back, rather they will propel us forward, giving us the ability to determine and lead our futures with the wisdom and understanding of our cultural past.

Made up of 3 coral atolls, Atafu, Fakaofo and Nukunonu which sit on extinct volcano peaks, Tokelau has a total land area of 12 square kilometres. As per Census 2018, there are 8,676 Tokelauans living in New Zealand with nearly half living in the Wellington region. This year, Tokelau is celebrating 72 years since the assent of the Tokelau Administration Act on 29 October 1948 and is a valued member of the Realm of New Zealand.

Tokelau Language Week has been celebrated since 2012 as part of the Ministry for Pacific Peoples’ Pacific Language Weeks programme and is the ninth and final language week to be celebrated this year.

The Language Week will run from Sunday 25 October to Saturday 31 October and is being launched online by the Taupo Tokelau Community Committee via the official Tokelau Language Week 2020 Facebook page, where you can join in a wide range of online activities.

“I would encourage all New Zealanders to use some simple Tokelauan greetings and words during Tokelau Language Week, taking the time to understand and appreciate what these words mean and their cultural importance,” says Aupito William Sio.

For further information and language resources on Tokelau Language Week can be found on the Ministry for Pacific Peoples website here.

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