The Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio says the 2020 Tuvalu Language Week theme of “Fakatili Te Kiloga Fou” which means “Navigating the changing environment” is a call on all Pacific peoples to be strong and resilient in the face of COVID-19.
“This theme is a reminder to us all of our need to be resilient and future-focussed as we navigate our ever-changing world today, and it truly fits the current environment we’re facing due to the global pandemic,” says Aupito William Sio.
“COVID-19 has challenged us deeply as Pacific peoples. It has made us rethink how we live and work, changed our daily patterns of life, the way we engage and stay in contact with family and friends, and it challenges us on how we practice our cultural events and traditions going forward.
“As challenging as COVID-19 has been, Pacific peoples are strongly in support of the going hard and going early approach, because it saved lives and by getting ahead of the virus enabled us to focus on the rebuild and recovery.
“In support of a response for Pacific communities, the Government allocated $195 million in Budget 2020, to help with the rebuild and growth of Pacific Aotearoa. This funding has already made a difference by resetting how we engage with our Pacific communities, providing for multi-media communications in nine Pacific languages, televised across the nation, and using new technology that many of our elders were unfamiliar with.
Pacific peoples would have also received assistance from the COVID-19 support measures such as the Wage Subsidy, Leave Support Scheme and the Small Business Cashflow Loan Scheme, which is protecting jobs and keeping businesses going.
“The Tuvalu community continues to be responsive to the changing times we face and have been proactive in establishing digital platforms to connect and support their community online. This forward-thinking has enabled the Tuvalu groups in Aotearoa to be a lot more resilient in the face of COVID-19. They have confidently embraced the use of new technology to share their language and culture while also growing their reach of engagement with their community across Aotearoa and with families back in the islands.
Digital communication has been critical in our efforts to stamp out COVID-19. The Ministry for Pacific Peoples organised online Pacific language fonos with all nine Pacific communities, including Tuvalu, utilising digital forums to share information and ideas with Pacific clinicians, government agencies and our Pacific communities to work together to stop the resurgence of COVID-19.
“While COVID-19 is foremost in our minds, Tuvaluan communities in New Zealand are also more keenly aware than most of us, of the impact climate change continues to have on their island home and the future survival of their heritage and language.
“Tuvaluans have made their voices heard loud and clear on climate change. They have taken their message to the United Nations and have played a leading role in awakening the world on the need to address climate change, not just to save Tuvalu, but to save the world.
“New Zealand acknowledges Tuvalu on their courageous voice and we will support the people of Tuvalu to ensure their country has the infrastructure and resources to strengthen their resilience to adapt and pursue mitigation measures against climate change.
“We will stand in support of Tuvalu’s fight to protect their lives, their livelihoods and their right to live on their ancestral island homes, not just from climate change but also from COVID-19.
The Tuvalu Language Week programme will be officially launched on Sunday 27 September at 10am on the official Tuvalu Language Week Facebook page. The Language Week will run from Sunday 27 September to Saturday 3 October and will be hosted by the Tuvalu Auckland Community Trust.
“Tuvalu Language Week is entering its fifth year with the Pacific Language Weeks programme and will deliver a range of interactive, online events which will illuminate the heritage, language and culture of Tuvalu. In conjunction with the week’s events, Tuvalu will be celebrating its 42nd year of independence on the 1 October,” says Aupito William Sio.
For further information and other helpful resources on Tuvalu Language Week can be found on the Ministry for Pacific Peoples website: https://www.mpp.govt.nz/what-we-do/pacific-language-weeks/tuvalu-language-week/