New Zealanders encouraged to embrace Samoan Language Week

Le Vaiaso o le Gagana Sāmoa Samoan Language Week:
27 May – 2 June 2012

O le Vāfealoa’i – Strong and Respectful Relationships

One of New Zealand’s most widely used languages, Samoan, is in the spotlight this week as Vaiaso o le Gagana Sāmoa Samoan Language Week celebrations and events take off around the country and internationally. This year also marks the 50th anniversary of Samoan Independence Day (1 June) and the signing of the 1962 Treaty of Friendship, a unique agreement between Samoa and New Zealand.

“Samoan is spoken in communities throughout New Zealand,” said Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres. “Communicating in one’s own language is a basic human right. It is important that that right is supported for Samoans born in New Zealand as well as those who have come here from Samoa. This can be done through early childhood centres, schools, libraries, universities, churches and the media, as well as by supporting Samoan parents to use the language in the home and providing public sewrvice and commercial information in the Samoan language.”

Vaiaso o le Gagana Sāmoa encourages people to learn and use Samoan in their day-to-day lives and in the public sphere. Encouraging and maintaining Pacific languages was noted as a priority in the recently published annual review of race relations, which looked forward to Government approval and implementation of the recently developed Pacific Languages Framework.

This year’s theme is O le Vāfealoa’i – Strong and Respectful Relationships is reflected in the Commission’s work as well as in its continuing support with other language week partners; FAGASA Inc (NZ Association of Samoan Teachers); Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs, UNESCO, and Pasifika Education Centre. Samoan speakers are encouraged to use and nurture their own language and also inspire New Zealanders to learn a little. As the Samoan proverb suggests:  E a le puga nisi, a le ‘ana nisi − Let each do his share of the work.

“Samoan people living in Aotearoa have helped New Zealand to become a strong Pacific nation,” said Sam Sefuiva, Human Rights Commission’s Principal Advisor on Race Relations. “It is up to all of us to support those wanting to preserve, develop and use their heritage language.”

Vaiaso o le Gagana Sāmoa is celebrated around the world in many ways, including through social media channels. Events around the country include:

  • Measina Samoa: Samoan Cultural Treasures at Te Papa: 28 May – 30 May (booking required)
  • Bounty Bars and Coconut Roughs – a photographic exhibition: Reef Gallery, Auckland 5 June – 24 June
  • Samoan Language Week launch at Unitec,  Mt Albert Samoa Fale: 28 May 2012
  • Activities in public libraries in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch

For more events and exhibitions please visit Samoan Language Week website, Samoan Language Week Facebook page and Samoa 2012.

FAGASA Inc, the Samoan Teachers Association, is the lead community and national partner in promoting Samoan Language Week with the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs, NZ National Commission for UNESCO, Pasifika Education Centre Trust (Inc.) and the Human Rights Commission as part of their participation with the NZ Diversity Action Programme.

Try out some basic Samoan phrases

Tālofa lava     Hello

‘O ā mai ‘oe?     How are you?

Manuia fa’afetai     I’m well thank you

O lo’u igoa o …      My name is …

Ou te sau mai …      I come from …

Ou te nofo i  …     I live in …

O lo’u tamā o …   My father is …

O lo’u  tinā o …    My mother is…

Fa’afetai [tele lava]    Thank you [very much]

Tōfā soifua    Goodbye

Back to top