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Tongan Language Week celebrations encouraging non-Tongans to try it

Natasha Hill

Celebrating Tongan Language Week in downtown Tāmaki Makaurau

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

Tongan Language Week has kicked off with a celebration in downtown Tāmaki Makaurau featuring the sharing of traditional Tongan cuisine and the teaching of Tongan greetings.

The theme for this year’s language week is ‘E tu’uloa ‘a e Lea faka-Tongá ‘o ka lea’aki ‘i ‘api, siasí (lotú), mo e nofo-’a-kāingá, which means The Tongan language will be sustainable if used at home, church and in the wider community.

For the Tongan event speaker, Ala Vailala, Tongan Language Week means the celebration and sharing of Tongan culture and language.

She says this year’s theme of preserving the Tongan language comes down to encouraging more people, including non-Tongans to speak the language.

“Seeing non-Tongans give our language and culture a go is very heartwarming because I know that it will be here for the future.”

“It’s important to me because I want to see other non-Tongan people give our language a go, coming together to embrace our culture and share our culture.”

Event organiser Lon Sangster says Tongan Language Week means a lot to her because it’s putting their nationality “out there”.

“It’s just showing the younger generation that we’re still proud of our little islands.”

She says it’s important to celebrate diverse languages in Aotearoa, especially with Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori next week.

“We put more effort into celebrating different cultures because it’s beautiful for the diversity of New Zealand.”

Tongan Language Week finishes this Saturday, September 9.

Hero image: Showing the younger generation. Photo / Natasha Hill

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