In New Zealand, we are celebrating the second year of Tongan Language Week which was launched yesterday and it will run until the 8th September. Over the radio airwaves, Dr Linita Manu’atu led the opening of Tongan Language Week which was celebrated with prayer, song and discussions held in the Tongan langauge. The theme of the week is: Fakakoloa ‘o Aotearoa – Enriching Aotearoa with Tongan language and culture. The week is promoted by the Aotearoa Tongan Teachers Association in partnership with the Human Rights Commission, other organisations and members of the Tongan community.
The goals of the week are to:
- celebrate the Tongan language and culture in New Zealand
- promote the teaching and learning of the Tongan language
- raise awareness of the Tongan language as a language spoken by a significant number of people in New Zealand
- promote initiatives to maintain and grow the recognition, learning and use of the Tongan language in the home, in education, at work, in government, in the media, in sport, in the arts, in the church and in the community.
At the time of the last census (2006), there were 50,000 Tongans in New Zealand. They were the third largest Pacific group, after Samoans (131,000) and Cook Islanders (58,000), and the fastest growing group since the previous census. Tongans born in New Zealand account for 56% of the total Tongan population. Around 80% of Tongans live in Auckland. Just over 60% speak the Tongan language, but only 40% of those born in New Zealand do so.
Below is a poster with Tongan words and its English translations:
I am definitely proud of my Tongan heritage and culture and I look forward to celebrating Tongan language week with family, friends and colleagues. Here is a poem reading by one of my favourite Tongan poets, Dr Konai Helu Thaman: