Language critical to Kiribati as it faces challenge of Climate Change

  • Hon Aupito William Sio

Kiribati is on the frontline of Climate Change and language will keep its people rooted to their land and tradition in the coming crisis, said the Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito William Sio.

“Our Pacific nations are the first to feel the impacts of climate change. Kiribati is home to around 116,300 people and is extremely vulnerable to rising sea levels.

“Despite the enormous challenges Kiribati faces as a nation, their language and cultural identity will keep them grounded, and proud of their heritage.

“This is truly evident in the vibrant Kiribati community living here in Aotearoa, and how they celebrate Kiribati Language Week – Wikin te Taetae ni Kiribati,” says Minister Sio.

In 2020, the Ministry for Pacific Peoples (MPP) launched the first official Kiribati Language Week, as part of the Pacific Language Weeks series.

This year, MPP worked alongside the Kiribati Language Week Steering Committee Membership to plan the 2021 Kiribati Language Week and implement the changes to support the Pacific Language Weeks Refresh in 2022.

“This Ministry has been working alongside the Kiribati Language Week Steering Committee Membership to organise events and activities throughout the week, which is based on the theme: Maubonian te teei i nanon te mwenga bon karekean te maiuraoi, te ongotaeka ao te tangira,” says Minister Sio.

“In English, this translates as: The home is where we nurture our children towards a healthy, responsible, loving and prosperous future.

“All the 2021 Pacific Language Weeks have the overarching theme of wellbeing, as language is the key to the definition of our Pacific wellbeing.”

A highlight of the week is Kiribati Independence Day on July 12, commemorating the independence of Kiribati from the United Kingdom in 1979, and the inaugural Language Champion Honours, which will be presented at the closing ceremony in Auckland on July 17.

“I would really like to encourage New Zealanders to embrace this wonderful language and I invite everyone to take the time to learn and use some simple Kiribati greetings and words such as Mauri (welcome), Ko rabwa (thank you), and Ti a bo (goodbye).

The people of Kiribati have a beautiful history and culture, and I am pleased Kiribati is now well and truly part of our Pacific Language Weeks programme,” said Aupito William Sio.

Further information:

Kiribati Language Week will be officially launched online by the Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio, tomorrow at 9am on the Ministry for Pacific Peoples Facebook page. The Kiribati Independence Day celebration will take place on Monday 12 July at 8.30am, held at the Peace Memorial, Te Rauparaha Park in Porirua.

Kiribati Language Week will run from Sunday 11 July to Saturday 17 July 2021.

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