Fiji pride is on display this week.
Photo/ Supplied/ Centre for Pacific Languages
It’s Fiji Language Week, and communities are putting on a show with celebrations and learning opportunities across the country.
‘Me vakabulabulataki, vakamareqeti, ka vakaqaqacotaki na vosa Vakaviti’ - Nurture, Preserve and Sustain the Fijian language.
This is the theme of this year’s Fiji Language Week, or Macawa ni Vosa Vakaviti.
New Zealand is home to 19,700 people with Fijian heritage, but there’s a stark difference in fluency depending on where you’re born. Eighty-seven percent of Fijians born overseas can speak the language, but only 11% of those born in New Zealand can.
Wesleyan Methodist Church minister, Reverend Atu Langi says it’s vital for the older generation to pass on their knowledge.
“Find simple ways, and create an atmosphere, and feed those environments that are very encouraging, rather than complicating things.
“To invite the young generation and keep the continuity is very important.”
Today's events include a Vosa Vakaviti exhibition in Hamilton, and a class on Fijian protocols in Mataura in Southland.
Minister for Pacific Peoples Barbara Edmonds says it’s encouraging to see events being held in smaller communities.
“Each year we’re seeing more regionally based Fijian groups get involved which is hugely empowering to the RSE workers and Fijian families settled in regional communities.
“This is particularly important after the impact extreme weather events have had on the wellbeing of our Pacific people in affected areas.”
There’s been a 3 per cent decline in the overall Fijian speakers in New Zealand. Minister for Pacific People chief executive Gerardine Clifford Lidstone says education is a large part in switching the dial.
“This year’s Fiji Language Week takes place during the school term, so I hope we’ll see lots of students and schools involved, as the future of this language lies with the next generation.”
Macawa ni Vosa Vakaviti - Fiji Language Week 2023 runs from 8 – 14 October.
Information and resources can be found here.