Alualumoana Lakisha Luaitalo
Samoan Language Week this year celebrates 16 years since its inception in New Zealand
Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air
Samoan Language Week this year celebrates 16 years since its inception in New Zealand.
And for Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate Junior School principal Vasati Vaoiva, upholding the values and customs of Gagana Samoa are important aspects of the school curriculum.
Each day the student and staff of the Lumanai bilingual unit start the day off with a lotu (Samoan prayer plus song).
“The importance of children using the language in songs and dance is relevant, to instill the ways taught by our ancestors until this modern day. It is how we celebrate and show that you are a proud teine (girl) or tama (boy) Samoa,” parent Lofi Tauinaola says.
Principal Vasati Vaoiva is proud of being one of the first graduates since the school's establishment in 1986.
“I started my schooling at Clydemore Primary School in its Samoan bilingual unit.
“I then moved to the Samoan bilingual unit at Bairds Intermediate, and then was able to continue learning the language at Hillary,” Vaoiva says.
According to a AUT research, less than half of 36.1% of New Zealand-born Samoans can speak the Samoan language.
“I see the school and parents are supportive in bringing their children to a bilingual unit so that they can finish and achieve their goals for the future and things like that,” says Vaoiva.
"The theme for this year’s Samoan language week is “Be proud of your language and grounded in your identity.”
The government recently announced $13.3 million for the Pacific Languages Strategy and it's believed more funding will go to more initiatives.
Hero Image: Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate Junior School principal Vasati Vaoiva. Photo / Alualumoana Lakisha Luaitalo