Language: Enriching Aotearoa with Tongan Wisdom

Pacific Island Affairs Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga today launched Tongan Language Week at the Tongan Methodist Church in Otahuhu, Auckland.

Tongan Language Week runs from 1-7 September and the theme this year is‘Ko e kai ia ‘a e Tonga: Enriching Aotearoa with Tongan Wisdom.

“This week is about showcasing Tongan culture, pride and most importantly the Tongan language in New Zealand” Mr Lotu-Iiga said

“It is especially significant to launch this Tongan Language Week at an Early Childhood Education (ECE) fun day run by the Church. With over 300 children, parents and community members present, this truly is the future of the Tongan Language in New Zealand.”

Census data from 2013 shows us that there are 60,336 Tongans in New Zealand, making them the third largest Pacific group after Samoans and Cook Islanders. Tongans were also the fastest growing group since the last Census in 2006.

Tongans born in New Zealand also account for 56 percent of the total Tongan population and around 80 percent of Tongans live in Auckland.

“Preserving our culture, heritage and languages is important. This is why our Government continues to support Language weeks, Pacific resources in ECE and events such as the ASB Polyfest and Pasifika Festival.”

This launch also follows a successful Tongan youth rally held at the Lotofale’ia Church in Mangere last night. Over 800 young people and their families attended this event where the Prime Minister was the guest speaker.

“Speaking to the youth group, the Prime Minister and others spoke about attitude, believing in yourself and you get out of life what you put into it.”

“It is great to see initiatives like these celebrating and encouraging our young people to embrace their Tongan culture, heritage and language.” Mr Lotu-Iiga said

“Celebrating and sharing our cultural identity is essential for the wellbeing of our children, families and the wider community. There is an exciting program of events throughout the week and I would encourage all New Zealanders to take part.” Mr Lotu-Iiga added.

Tongan Language Week is promoted by the Aotearoa Tongan Teachers Association alongside the Human Rights Commission. The Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs, community members and other organisations also support this initiative.

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