New Zealand Ministry for Pacific Peoples Announce the Start of Vaiaso o le Gagana Samoa 2023

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28 May 2023, Apia Samoa.  The New Zealand Ministry of Pacific Peoples have announced the start of Samoan Language Week for 2023.

Hon Barbara Edwards in a recorded message said the theme for this year’s Vaiaso o le Gagana Samoa, was Mitamita i lou gagana, maua’a i lou faasinomaga.

“Which in English means, be proud of your language and grounded in your identity.”

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“Our Pacific Language Weeks highlight how important it is to ensure the survival of our Pacific languages,” said the Minister.

Hon Edwards says the Samoan population is the largest of the Pacific peoples in Aotearoa and Samoan is the third most spoken language behind English and Tereo Maori.

The Minister encourages us all, no matter where you are on your language journey, to speak and share our Samoan language as much as possible.

The Ministry’s social media pages will be sharing content on a daily basis throughout the week including a phrase of the day.

The Day 1 phrase was Gagana – Language.

Embrace the power of your mother tongue, express yourself authentically, and cultivate a deep love for your language. Let your words weave a beautiful tapestry of who you are!” the Ministry posts.

“This year’s theme focuses on the importance of the Samoan language and identity. It impresses on us the need not only to understand the Samoan language, but to also use it as much as possible. When you are proud of your language and can speak it, you will also be more grounded in your identity as a Samoan.”

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The NZ Ministry of Pacific People states in a publication that the theme, Mitamita i lau gagana, maua’a lou fa’asinomaga,  encourages Samoan language pride in four key areas:

1. Be proud of your ancestral language

Our ancestral language included symbols, signs, environmental landmarks, events, gestures and other intangible language, serving as a reminder of life from past generations and carrying with it our histories and creation from the minds and mouths of Samoans. Be proud of your language that was created and grown by our ancestors.

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2. Be proud of your spiritual language

The Samoan language is a pillar in our churches and is nurtured in church programmes and activities such as Sunday School, Youth groups, choirs and church services. The church plays an important role in ensuring the Samoan language thrives, and that Samoan people are proud of their language.

3. Be proud of your language in your families

Pride in the Samoan language begins in the home. The family is the first classroom for Samoans. We are first taught in our homes how to speak and show respect to elders and others. You learn how to invite people to eat, as well as know how to acknowledge gifts of food that people bring with them.

When someone is grounded in their languages, it becomes easier to learn other languages, and it contributes positively to wellbeing. If you are strong in your Samoan language, you never have to question who you are as a Samoan, because you understand what it means to be Samoan.

4. Be proud of your written language

We are now seeing that our Samoan language is needing to adapt and change. Our written language is now becoming more valued in schools, workplaces, places of worship, and many other areas of our lives. Therefore, we must be able to read, understand, speak and write Samoan. Be proud of your written language especially with the positive changes we are seeing with the Samoan language.

Go to the Ministry for Pacific People website for resources and activities of Vaiaso o Gagana Samoa – Samoan Language Week.