Samoan Language Week celebrated

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

It's Samoan language week so the Pacific community hopes Talofa Lava which means "Greetings" will be a popular phrase this week. According to Statistics NZ, the Samoan population remains the largest among Pacific Islanders and Samoan is the third most-spoken language in NZ after English and Māori.

This is the week that the Samoan language is celebrated.

Aufono Niko, is a teacher at A'oga Fa'a Samoa, a full immersion Samoan early childhood centre. She says, “Language is the roots of everyone’s identity. If there's no language there's no culture so language and culture go together.”

She also maintains that the Samoan language should be celebrated and instilled in young Samoans in New Zealand as early as possible. She states, “Really important for the children to learn their language while they are young because when they grow up it is there in the mind. It is there because it is a backbone of their heritage, their roots.”

Georgina Pulotu is the leader of the Samoan cultural group at Auckland Girls Grammar School. Today they celebrated Samoan language week with a cultural performance at Auckland War Memorial Museum. She says, “Everyone looks forward to Samoan language week because it's a time when we get to celebrate our country’s independence and so for us Samoans it's really something special and something we keep to our hearts.

Aufono Niko believes that because New Zealand is a multicultural nation, it is important to identify other cultures. She says, “It is not only for us to speak Samoan and to say that Samoan is an important - all languages are important and it is very good and it is very important for us to understand other cultures and to learn their language too.”

Samoan language week runs until the end of the week while next week ushers in the celebrations of the Cook Island language.