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A'ua'u Manaia Culture Group performing at Westfield Manukau. ​​​​​​

A'ua'u Manaia Culture Group performing at Westfield Manukau. ​​​​​​

Photo/Centre for Pacific Languages

Language & Culture

Pacific expert: ‘When our languages are spoken, Pacific communities thrive’

Nine Pacific languages are celebrated with language weeks every year in Aotearoa.

Matt Manukuo
Matt Manukuo
28 September 2023, 5:36pm
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A Pacific language professional says language week celebrations are vital to sustaining Pacific culture in Aotearoa.

Nine Pacific languages are celebrated throughout the year, but the importance of language revitalisation has been questioned by some in the lead up to this general election.

With ACT Party leader David Seymour recently questioning​ whether the Ministry for Pacific Peoples, which provides funding for language week events, is focused on the right types of initiatives.

But when speaking on PMN Niue​, acting Chief Executive for the Centre of Pacific Languages Ron Viviani says these celebrations are crucial for Pacific people who live in the country.

“Those are certainly important celebrations for us to be aware of and to promote the status of our language,” he says.

“If you don’t hear your language, if you don’t know your language you certainly lose a part of your culture and identity in that space.


“When our languages are heard, when our languages are spoken, Pacific communities thrive in Aotearoa.”

The Centre for Pacific Languages (CPL) has advocated for Pacific language revitalisation for over forty years, supporting efforts around the country.

The CPL’s key groups of urgent need for language revitalisation include New Zealand’s realm countries: Vagahau Niue, Gagana Tokelau and Te Reo Maori Kuki Airani.

Viviani says they deliver language learning programmes in eight different languages to help with their efforts of language revitalisation.

“We are working on other programmes with community learning, taking learning outside of classrooms. A lot of learning is online, which has a wider reach that is beneficial.

“We support other groups who offer these programmes out in the community.”

Viviani mentions that the CPL also supports organisations and government agencies with cultural competency programmes, as well as translations for documents or materials.

Though the efforts in communities across the country are strong, Viviani says there needs to be more hands on deck to help strengthen Pacific languages in Aotearoa.

“It’s not something we can do alone, it’s certainly something that needs a wider contribution from different parties. The community has a role to play but also government and non profit organisations.

“A lot of us may be doing work in our own spaces but we need to be able to collaborate where we can.”

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