Tuvalu is in the spotlight this week, as communities across New Zealand celebrate Vaiaso o te Gagana Tuvalu, Tuvalu Language Week.
“The Government has a proven track record of supporting Pacific communities and ensuring our languages are more spoken, heard and celebrated,” said Pacific Peoples Minister Barbara Edmonds.
“Many of our islands face the increasing impact of climate change. Tuvalu is no stranger to this harsh reality, with the rise in sea levels and the greater intensity of cyclones. With their identity and culture at stake, safeguarding Te Gana Tuvalu has become vital for communities in New Zealand and their homeland,” she said.
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In 2023, Tagata Tuvalu Otautahi Incorporated and the wider community have selected the theme “Preserve and embrace your language to safeguard our heritage identities”.
Tuvalu consists of nine inhabited islands with a population of approximately 11,000. It is also the fourth smallest nation in the world.
In New Zealand there are over 4,600 people who identify as Tuvaluen and 48% are Te Gana Tuvalu speakers. 54% of the total population was born in New Zealand and only 25% of those under 15 years of age speak this language.
“The Government has a proven track record of supporting Pacific communities and ensuring our languages are more spoken, heard and celebrated.”
“Preserving the Tuvalu language is a call for the community to maintain, embrace and appreciate its value,” said Barbara Edmonds.
Tuvalu community groups are working together to showcase their language through a variety of virtual and in-person activities this week, including: traditional dances, church services, flag-raising ceremonies, craft-making, sessions cooking and children’s activities.
“I encourage everyone to take part in celebrating Vaiaso o te Gagana Tuvalu. Not only will you help keep a language alive, you will help our Pacific community thrive,” concluded Barbara Edmonds.
Tuvalu Language Week is celebrated from October 1 to 7.