National | Language

Tonga Language Week celebrates 10th year

Uike Lea Faka-Tonga, Tonga Language Week, starts this weekend with the official programme launched online Saturday morning.

Now in its 10th year, the event aims to support and grow the language and culture of Tonga. This year's theme has a focus on prayer and faith as a response to the impact of Covid-19.

The Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio, says the theme of “Fakakoloa ‘o Aotearoa aki ‘a e Lotu Mo’oni” - which in English means “Enriching Aotearoa New Zealand through prayer and faith” - is the theme the Tongan community will use to underpin their Covid-19 response towards economic recovery and rebuild.

“In my experience, the Tongan community throughout Aotearoa are deeply spiritual people, and their theme reflects their strong faith-based belief system like the rest of the Pacific population and underscores the practicality that faith and works must go hand in hand,” says Minister Sio.

“We have seen this with the Lotofale’ia Parish of the Tongan Synod of the New Zealand Methodist Church, which has been at the forefront of using their lands in Māngere to build houses in partnership with Housing NZ, which has highlighted a church leading by example to address the immediate practical housing needs of its community.

"One of the best Covid-19 responses I’ve seen is when the main Tongan churches have held off holding mass church meetings and provided other support to their nationwide membership to reduce the risks of community transmission within the Tongan community."

Minister Sio is encouraging New Zealanders to join in the celebration of the Tongan culture and language online.

“New Zealand is very fortunate to be a country with so many different Pacific languages and cultures. We need to fully embrace this diversity and allow it to enrich all of our lives with the diversity of knowledge and experience from across the vast blue pacific continent and beyond.”

The Tonga Language Week programme runs from Sunday 6 September to Saturday 12 September and will be officially launched at 10am today on Facebook.