Gagana Samoa is a foundation of Pacific wellbeing

  • Hon Aupito William Sio

Today’s launch of Samoa Language Week highlights the importance of language in providing a foundation for Pacific wellbeing, said Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito William Sio.

“Languages are essential to having confidence in our Pacific identities. They are the lens through which we understand ourselves and the world around us. Pacific people thrive when we hear our own stories told in our own languages.

“Samoa Language Week is the second in a year of transition for the language week series, which among other things, sees all language weeks have their own take on a central theme. The theme for 2021 is ‘wellbeing’.

“The 2018 Census showed that over 60 per cent of Pacific people are born in New Zealand, and that Gagana Samoa is the third most-spoken language in New Zealand behind English and te reo Māori,” said Aupito William Sio.

This year’s Samoa Language Week theme is Poupou le lotoifale, Ola manuia le anofale, or, in English, ‘Strengthen the posts of your house, for all to thrive’. It talks about the Samoan fale or house which can only stand strong when the pillars are sturdy.

“Like a fale, our individual and collective resilience can be measured by our building posts that keep us grounded through the inevitable ups and downs of everyday life. Those posts are our languages, cultures and traditions which are reinforced by our families, schools, and churches.

“Poupou le lotoifale, Ola manuia le anofale reminds us that coming together to celebrate Samoan culture will strengthen our Gagana Samoa and bring positive benefits for all New Zealanders. These benefits will not only be felt now, but in the future.

“It is crucial that our Gagana Samoa continues to be used by Samoans in New Zealand, and that it is passed on to the generations to come.

“Although its great that many people speak Gagana Samoa, we must actively nurture the language so that our New Zealand-born Samoans grow up with a firm understanding of the unique culture and traditions that provide the foundation of who they are.

“It is excellent to see how Samoa Language Week, which started in the Samoan community in 2007, has grown across New Zealand.

“I encourage all New Zealanders to celebrate Samoa Language Week this year by taking the time to support their Samoan neighbours, colleagues and friends to ‘strengthen the posts of their house’, or inner-selves, through the celebration of Samoan language and culture,” said Aupito William Sio.

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