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Samoa Language Week launched

The Samoa Language Week in New Zealand was officially launched online on Sunday by Minister Aupito William Sio and is hosted by the Samoan Congregational Christian Church of Christchurch. 

The week-long event, which will end this Saturday 30th May, celebrates Samoan as the third most spoken language in New Zealand. The celebrations will revolve around the 2020 theme “Tapena sou ōso mo lau malaga,” which translates in English as “prepare yourself a gift for your travels.” 

According to a press release issued by the New Zealand government to mark the occasion, the Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio said that this year’s theme is perfect for Pacific communities coping with the Covid-19 crisis.

“The theme is so appropriate for our times and I believe it will help Pacific peoples of Aotearoa focus on playing a leading and vital part in the Government’s plan of “Rebuilding Together,” said Aupito. “It reminds me that planning is the key to ensuring a successful journey and that with proper planning where our whole community is involved, we can achieve our desired goals and outcomes, and succeed in reaching our planned destination where we can all celebrate our successes together.”

Aupito said that it’s not only about physical wellness but keeping everyone emotionally strong and spiritually well during the difficult post-Covid-19 journey. 

“Covid-19 has prevented Pacific people from continuing our usual practices of pausing, reflecting and celebrating in huge social face-to-face events after each cycle of a journey. We must now undertake these celebrations on digital platforms and still aim to keep everyone engaged, safe, strong and resilient,” he added.

“Our greatest gift for our post Covid-19 journey is preparing our children for the future, and gifting them opportunities to excel and realise their fullest potential to be confident, thriving, resilient and prosperous Pacific Aotearoa.”

In relation to the theme, Aupito added that  Pacific peoples take everything they learn from families and their communities with us when we prepare to travel. What we usually take and share are our gifts (ōso), love (alofa) and prayers (tatalo) with people we meet. Moreover, relationships with family (aiga), churches (ekalesia) and friends (uo) have been built, nurtured and strengthened through these gifts. 

“I encourage all New Zealanders to use some simple Samoan greetings and words this week, to take time to understand what these words mean and the stories they carry, and to take time to speak with Samoan friends, colleagues and neighbours about what their language means to them,” he said.

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