Pacific languages

Pacific children’s songs breaking new ground

The collaboration, between local musicians Loopy Tunes, Whānau Āwhina Plunket and Ministry of Pacific Peoples, features interactive songs with ten different Pacific languages.

Whānau Āwhina Plunket Pacific Support Coordinator Natalia Gasu said it’s a wonderful way to help children learn and preserve their Pacific language, and build wellbeing and identity. 

“There has been a loss of Pacific languages in Aotearoa, and we wanted to create a playgroup to support local Pacific families to connect with their culture and language through music.”

Husband and wife write children's books to help keep Pacific languages alive

Deborah Sanerivi says she started writing the books with her husband Oka to help her own family, as well as others.

“I wrote the books simply so I could learn. I couldn’t find resources that were structured in a way that helped me to say the sentences that I wanted to say to my new little girl.

“As she got older and we started to incorporate more sentences and more of the language into her life, we realised there are more families like ours that don’t necessarily have the language base to help them speak our language or their language to their children.”

Languages inspires Pacific innovations

Launched today at the Lalanga Fou Languages and High Tech Fono, the Languages Innovation Fund will be piloted for 12 months.

“The Ministry’s engagements with communities throughout Aotearoa confirmed the significance of Pacific languages and cultures to an individual’s sense of belonging and identity,” says Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito William Sio.

It was announced in this year’s Wellbeing Budget that the Government would allocate $20 million over the next four years to ensure Aotearoa is home to thriving Pacific languages.

Chinese university to offer courses in seven Pacific languages

The Australian National University's Development Policy blog revealed the Pacific Island Country Language-Teaching Programme will be offered at the Beijing Foreign Studies University.

The programme is linked to efforts to facilitate the rollout of the Chinese Government's Belt and Road Initiative in Pacific Island Countries with whom China has diplomatic relations.

Approved by China's Ministry of Education in 2017, Beijing Foreign Studies University started to advertise new four-year bachelor's courses in seven Pacific languages.

Growing number of enrolments for Pacific language classes

The Pasifika Education Centre (PEC) provides free language courses for Tongan, Samoan, Cook Islands, Fijian, Niuean and has recently trialled Rotuman. 

CEO Christine Nurminen says enrolment numbers have doubled over the last five years.

"In 2012 we had just over 400 students that were enrolled, now there's over 1600 students that we're engaging with exclusively around Pacific languages."

She says the increase is an indication that the language is being embraced and valued. 

Labour pledges to review NZ's Pacific migration policy

Labour's Pacific Affairs spokesperson, Aupito William Sio, said the migration policy will be reviewed for small Pacific nations like Tuvalu, Tokelau and Kiribati which feel the brunt of climate change.

He also said the Cook Islands, Niuean, Tokelauan, Samoan and Tongan languages will be made official community languages in the education system.

Aupito said quality language education had a proven record of raising academic achievement.

He also promised Pasifika content in public broadcasting, and goals for Pacific literacy, research and bilingualism.