The Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio says the 2020 Tonga Language Week theme of “Fakakoloa ‘o Aotearoa aki ‘a e Lotu Mo’oni”, which in English means “Enriching Aotearoa New Zealand through prayer and faith” is the theme the Tongan community will use to underpin their COVID-19 response towards economic recovery and rebuild, as they enter the 10th year of Uike Lea Faka-Tonga, Tonga Language Week.
“In my experience the Tongan community throughout Aotearoa are deeply spiritual people, and their theme reflects their strong faith-based belief system like the rest of the Pacific population, and underscores the practicality that faith and works must go hand in hand,” says Aupito William Sio.
“We have seen this with the Lotofale’ia Parish of the Tongan Synod of the New Zealand Methodist Church, which has been at the forefront of using their lands in Mangere to build houses in partnership with Housing NZ, which has highlighted a church leading by example to address the immediate practical housing needs of its community.
“One of the best COVID-19 responses I’ve seen is when the main Tongan churches have held off holding mass church meetings and provided other support to their nationwide membership to reduce the risks of community transmission within the Tongan community. This has been consistent with the safety approaches made by the Catholic Church and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, along with other mainstream churches where online services and home-based family meetings were held instead of mass gatherings.
“Over the past ten years, Tongan community groups and organisations have employed a range of initiatives and programmes to support and grow the language and culture of Tonga. Understanding the need to nurture and support their language every day, the Tonga Language Committee launched a Tonga Language Year programme which is now in its fourth year.
The Tonga Language Week programme will be officially launched online tomorrow, Saturday 5 September at 10am, on the Tonga Language Week 2020 Facebook page and will run from Sunday 6 September to Saturday 12 September.
“I would encourage all New Zealanders to join in the celebration of the Tongan culture and language online, and continue to abide by the safety COVID-19 messages and guidelines.
“New Zealand is very fortunate to be a country with so many different Pacific languages and cultures. We need to fully embrace this diversity and allow it to enrich all of our lives with the diversity of knowledge and experience from across the vast Blue Pacific continent and beyond,” says Aupito William Sio
Tonga, officially the Kingdom of Tonga, is a sovereign state and archipelago comprising 169 islands of which 36 are inhabited. The total surface area of Tonga is about 750 square km. spread over an area roughly 700,000 square km in the southern Pacific Ocean. As of 2016, the state had a population of 100,651 people of whom 70% reside on the main island of Tongatapu.
Further information about Tonga Language Week 2020 including resources, can be found here.