Tuesday, June 7, 2011

[pima.nius] Pacific languages literacy ‘ignored’ in NZ, says Labour MP

1:04 PM |

Pacific languages literacy 'ignored' in NZ, says Labour MP


http://pacific.scoop.co.nz/2011/06/pacific-languages-literacy-ignored-in-nz-says-labour-mp/

Labour MP Carmel Sepuloni ... Samoan Language Week a confidence builder for children. Photo: WCommons

Pacific Scoop:
Report – By Lanuola Tusani

The government has ignored Pacific languages in New Zealand by placing value only on English literacy, says a Pasifika Member of Parliament.

Labour MP Carmel Sepuloni said the government had failed to recognise the evidence supporting Pacific children having a solid grounding in their own heritage.

"They have subsequently devalued our Pacific languages," said Sepuloni.

Sepuloni said celebration of Samoan Language Week – which began on Samoa's Independence Day on June 1 and ends next Tuesday – was an opportunity for children to build confidence in speaking their own language.

The theme for this year is Samoa Ola or Samoa Active and focuses on language, sport and healthy living and links to the visit of Samoa team for the Rugby World Cup.

Sepuloni said language was easily lost between generations and should not be allowed to slip away.

"Not being able to speak your mother tongue language does not make you less of a Pacific person," she said.

But she said it was hard when a person was not a competent speaker of his or her own Pacific language and could not communicate to others in their Pacific community.

'Absolute privilege'
"Knowing the language is an absolute privilege for those that have."

Human Rights Commission communication advisor Kat Ryan said the event built bridges between cultures and ensured that the language continued to be used widely in New Zealand.

Ryan said the Samoan Language Week had been very successful when measured by the wide range of activities across the country and the week was being recognised in Australia and the United States.

A Samoan studies specialist from Victoria University, Galumalemana Alfred Hunkin, said promoting the language in New Zealand was a reflection of the country's support and values the Pacific Islands.

Galumalemana said linguistic ability in the Samoan language would give young Samoans a vital tool to communicate with their elders and understand their culture.

He said Samoan people were the ones to advocate the language and needed to keep it and use it. But the government also needed to have policies to sustain and make it possible.

MP Sepuloni said Labour had always supported Pacific people and languages.

"It was under the Labour that the Pacific Radio Network was started and funded and we will continue to support the Pacific community," she said.

The Samoan language is the third most commonly spoken language in New Zealand after English and Māori.

There are more than 130,000 Samoan New Zealanders. The Samoan community is the fourth largest ethnic community in New Zealand.

Lanuola Tusani is a student journalist on AUT's Graduate Diploma in Pacific Journalism programme. This is her first story for Pacific Scoop.


A community team of Rev Uesifili Unasa (from left), AUT graduate Vaimoana Tapaleao and Auckland Council Tamaki Board member Josephine Bartley use sign language to support their argument in a Samoan Language Week debate at AUT University this week. Photo: Lanuola Tusani  


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pacific islands media association
pima.nius@gmail.com
aotearoa, new zealand
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The pima.nius googlegroup is a facility for discussion and distributing information. Content sent by this googlegroup are forwarded from various networks and media publications.
 
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