Gagana Samoa vital for family unity: Minister

Samoan language week has been celebrated in New Zealand with the Minister of Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio, stressing the importance of the language and its significance to maintaining family unity.

Minister of Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio, in a New Government statement released to coincide with the week-long celebration, said the 2018 Census showed that over 60 per cent of Pacific people are born in New Zealand, and Gagana Samoa is the third most-spoken language in New Zealand behind English and te reo Māori.

The theme for the celebration of the Samoan Language Week this year is “Poupou le lotoifale, Ola manuia le anofale”, which in English translates as “Strengthen the posts of your house, for all to thrive”.

It talks about the Samoan fale or house which can only stand strong when the pillars are sturdy.

Aupito said that like a fale, the people's individual and collective resilience can be measured by their building posts which keeps them grounded through the inevitable ups and downs of everyday life.

He said that the posts are languages, cultures and traditions which are reinforced by the people's families, schools and churches.

“Poupou le lotoifale, Ola manuia le anofale reminds us that coming together to celebrate Samoan culture will strengthen our Gagana Samoa and bring positive benefits for all New Zealanders. These benefits will not only be felt now, but in the future,” Aupito said.

“It is crucial that our Gagana Samoa continues to be used by Samoans in New Zealand, and that it is passed on to the generations to come.

“Although it's great that many people speak Gagana Samoa, we must actively nurture the language so that our New Zealand-born Samoans grow up with a firm understanding of the unique culture and traditions that provide the foundation of who they are.”

The Minister said that it is great seeing how Samoa Language Week which started in the Samoan community in 2007 has grown across New Zealand.

“I encourage all New Zealanders to celebrate Samoa Language Week this year by taking the time to support their Samoan neighbours, colleagues and friends to ‘strengthen the posts of their house’, or inner-selves, through the celebration of Samoan language and culture,” he added.

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