Samoan language celebrated in New Zealand

New Zealand residents with Samoan heritage as well as Samoan organisations and communities are celebrating Gagana Samoa this week.

Most of the celebrations are being staged online in order to comply with coronavirus (Covid-19) restrictions that are still in place for New Zealand and other countries in the world. 

Though the celebration of Gagana Samoa originally started in New Zealand, a majority of Samoans from around the globe have also participated through social media posts including Samoans living in the homeland.

Usually, the Gagana Samoa week is another main event for Samoans in Aotearoa to celebrate through events, sports, dancing performances and more. But due to Covid-19, celebrations have been moved online.

As part of the celebrations, the head of New Zealand-based Sosaiete Aoga Amata Samoa i Aotearoa, Salā Pafitimai Dr Fa'asaulala Tagoilelagi-Leota shared a Samoan phrase on social media to be pondered on this week: “Tapena sou ōso mo lau malaga” (prepare yourself a gift for your travels).

A fan of the Samoan language, John Wesley Te’o, also marked Gagana Samoa week with a Facebook post: “Manuia le vaiaso o le Gagana Samoa” (have a blessed Gagana Samoa week).

In an interview with Samoa Observer, he emphasised the importance of the Gagana Samoa in his life as a young Samoan, and as an aspiring Samoan chief he wants to obtain traditional knowledge and learn new Samoan words.

“Gagana Samoa week is like an open book about our Samoan language and as an aspiring matai (chief), I am proud to commemorate the Gagana Samoa week and learn more about our language,” he said.

A mother of three and New Zealand resident, Leota Aliimau Peseta, said she finds the Samoan language inspiring while residing in a non-Samoan community.

Responding to questions by Samoa Observer through Facebook, Leota said her language is a reminder of her family in Samoa.

“I came to New Zealand to find a bright future not just for me but also for my family in Samoa and being reminded of my Samoan culture on this special week annually gives me the best feelings and keeps me closer to home by heart and words of the mouth,” she said.

“I am proud to be a Samoan and acknowledging it in a different country is amazing for our language.”

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