Vetḁkia ‘os Fäega ma Ag fak hanua – Sustaining our Language and Culture is showcased in this year’s Rotuman Language Week – the first of nine Pacific Language Weeks, said Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito William Sio.
“With just 2,000 Rotuman speakers on the islands of Rotuma, nurturing the growing Rotuman identity in Aotearoa is critical. We must continue to work together to revitalise and maintain Fäeag Rotuạm.
“This growth is seen in the 2018 census which showed the Rotuma population in Aotearoa increasing by 25 per cent to 981 and Fäeag Rotuạm.is the only Pacific language which has seen an increase in the number of speakers since 2013.
“While this could reflect migration patterns of older speakers, rather than a growth in the number of younger speakers, the language is classified as endangered by UNESCO and for this reason it is essential it is supported as one of nine Pacific Languages and Pacific Language weeks.
“Because no matter how far we live from our motherland, and culture our Pacific languages continue to help shape who we are as Pacific peoples in Aotearoa,” Aupito William Sio said.
To support the umbrella Pacific Language Weeks theme of Sustainability, the 2022 Gasav Ne Fäeag Rotuạm Ta theme was chosen to build on from last year’s focus on the Four Pillars of Wellbeing.
“The Hata Collective, representing many of the Rotuman communities in Aotearoa, selected the pillar that best supports the concept of sustainability -Vetḁkia – which means to continuously do something without interruption,” Aupito William Sio said.
“Vetḁkia is a word rarely used in the current spoken language, so the use of this word in the theme signals the need for revival of Fäeag Rotuạm ta.”
The Sustainability theme aligns with UNESCO’s international decade of indigenous languages (2022 – 2032) which recognises the right to preserve, revitalise and promote languages, as well as New Zealand’s focus on sustainably rebuilding post-COVID-19.
“We know when you lose your language, your culture soon follows, Let’s prevent that terrible loss by fostering Pacific indigenous languages in our daily lives, ” Aupito William Sio said.