Sunday, July 17, 2011

[pima.nius] Campaign for official NZ recognition of five Pacific languages

1:07 PM |

Campaign for official NZ recognition of five Pacific languages

Updated July 15, 2011 08:14:29

A campaign is gathering pace in New Zealand for recognition of the five main Pacific languages as official minority languages.

At the forefront are Samoan grandparents, Judy and John McCaffery, who want all Pacific children in New Zealand to have the right and the opportunity to grow up speaking reading and writing in their own heritage language/s as well as English.

The New Zealand Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs is currently working on the Pacific Languages Strategy, which is being developed as a framework to protect and promote the use of Pacific languages but stops short of official recognition for the five Pacific languages.

Judy Taligalu McFall-McCaffery says as a grandparent she would like to pass on her knowledge.

Presenter:Geraldine Coutts
Speaker:Judy Taligalu McFall-McCaffery, founding co-chair, Bilingual Leo Pacific Coalition

TALIGALU: It's my desire and wish to pass what I know as a fluent speaker and reader of Samoan, that this opportunity and right also continues on and my responsibility to see that my grandchildren have this as well. And the research also shows that worldwide and within New Zealand that the academic achievement of children can be raised significantly if they're bilingual.

COUTTS: Alright now the languages, which are the five languages you're particularly interested in because your grandparents are Tongan and Samoan and Cook Island children, but the five languages that you're looking at?

TALIGALU: Yes there's Niue, Cook Islands, Tokelau, Samoan and Tongan that came about last year when the Ministry of Education cut the production of the Pacific language readers and the Samoan language journal. And so we focused on those five as the government and the ministry has been producing those for over 20 years to support the bilingual units, the schools, the partnership programs with schools and parents, and resourcing the libraries, the teachers and used by the community and the children. And plus it's also used in the Pacific Islands and also translated into English.

COUTTS: There are schools in New Zealand already, high schools that I think where students can study in Maori all the way through I think, and there are also schools in New Zealand of Samoan languages, you can speak and learn in Samoan in New Zealand as well, is that correct?

TALIGALU: Well there are bilingual units in early childhood schools, but not the same as Maori, and these are the bilingual units are not completely funded by government. So it's a different setup.

COUTTS: Now you also mentioned in there that academically if students are bilingual and use Samoan for instance that they do better academically. Currently only a bit over 27 per cent of Pacific school leavers qualify for university compared to nearly 52 per cent of Pakeha and Europeans. Is that one of the driving forces behind to try and get Pacific Islanders to stay in school and if using languages will do that, that will part of their assistance to do that?

TALIGALU: Well over the years there hasn't been as you know that Maori and Pacific Islanders are at the bottom of this long tail of under achievement, and the education system at the moment hasn't been able to successfully raise the achievement and increase the academic achievement of our Pacific young people, and research has been commissioned by the ministry over the years of how this could be addressed. And a lot of this research, millions of dollars have gone into it, all this research has pointed that it's through bilingual education and that is teaching the children in their heritage languages and English.

COUTTS: Well in spite of this research that you've got, there's been recently a drive by some schools or a plea by some schools because the schools could no longer afford to produce their school books or their story books for children in primary school in Samoan and English because the school couldn't afford to do that anymore, so that's dropped off. So how much of an uphill battle is it to achieve what you're after?

TALIGALU: Well it's not going to be an easy struggle and we're gathering momentum with the Pacific communities here in New Zealand as that is also their desire to see their children and their grandchildren grow up with the opportunity and the right to read, learn and speak in their heritage language and in English and in schools and in their education. So at the moment we've got Pacific languages petition, which is going to be placed in Auckland next week and then presented to parliament early next month on the fourth of August. And so we've also got people and parents and families who have written to the Human Rights Commission about this issue. And we're looking at the bill as the goal after this, because it's not just a cut to the production of the language materials, it's much more bigger than that. It's do with policies.

COUTTS: Well are you getting the support of the government and education department?

TALIGALU: We have been talking to and meeting with the Ministry of Education, parliamentarians.

COUTTS: But are they supportive, through these talks do you get the impression they're supportive?

TALIGALU: Well as you said Geraldine people have differing views on raising the achievement of Pacific children in English literacy and language only, and we have as parents and educators and researchers and grandparents, we know the benefits of having your own language as well as English in your education.

COUTTS: Well I wonder whether that is the case because we had someone on the program yesterday who bemoaned the fact that some parents didn't speak their own language and so sent their kids off to a program and came back speaking the language which the parents didn't understand?

TALIGALU: Yes it's a very complex issue but the thing is that people will be informed of the issue and better informed than their views may be more supportive, so that's the part of the work that we're doing is having these meetings and these forums and making people more aware of the complexities of the issues and better understanding a lot of them because their wish when I've talked to a lot of Samoan parents in seminars and community meetings, their wish is to have their children speaking and maintaining their languages and their cultures, but at the same time they wish them to be successful in the education system, which is mainstream and that is taught in English. So when they're better informed about how you can achieve that in the education system through bilingual education, because that hasn't been informed, well the parents haven't been informed on how that can be done, that can be achieved.


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pacific islands media association
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aotearoa, new zealand
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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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