National | Pacific

Reviving the Tokelauan language

According to the New Zealand census, there are more than 7,200 Tokelauans living in Aotearoa.  This week they celebrate their language and culture.

Tokelau community Leader Rob Lui Tuilave says, “I live in a city where there's only a handful of Tokelauans.  I’m always speaking my language to my kids.  It’s hard, but I’m proud of it.”

Tuilave is celebrating his language at the annual Pasifika Festival in the Bay of Plenty.

He says it is vital to hold on to his language because it represents his culture.

“I myself was born here in New Zealand, my children.  I just want to carry on what my family, my parents taught me and I just want to pass it onto my babies” says Tuilave.

The Tokelauan Language Week is the final of seven pacific language weeks held in Aotearoa this year.

Tokelau is a dependent territory of NZ and Tokelauans make up 2.4 percent of NZ's pacific population.

“Being a smaller place there’s that fear, potentially over the next generations," says Tuilave, "You lose an island, you lose the culture there.  Some places around NZ, Hutt Valley community, Rotorua community, Porirua, Auckland, Taupō, they do awesome work for Tokelau.”

Tokelau Language Week finishes on Saturday.