Samoan language and culture will be celebrated during Samoan Language Week from Sunday 24 May to Sunday 31 May, immediately before Samoa Independence Day on 1 June.
Samoan and Pacific media will have special programming and stories to mark the week, but mainstream media are also being challenged to recognise one of the largest ethnic communities in New Zealand. There are 131,000 Samoans living in New Zealand, making them the fourth largest ethnic group after New Zealand Europeans, Māori and Chinese. The Samoan language is the third most commonly spoken language after English and Māori.
TVNZ’s Tagata Pasifika will feature the week in its 21 May programme, which is re-broadcast throughout the Pacific, Māori TV and TVNZ 7. The Pacific Media Network will promote Samoan Language Week through its programmes on Niu FM, Radio 531 PI, and its website- including short ads, interviews, and language learning material. The Samoa Multimedia Group Ltd (which includes Radio Samoa and the Samoa Times) is launching its new studios for Radio Samoa 1593AM in Auckland during the week, and promoting Samoan Language Week through its networks.
Wellington’s Samoan Capital Radio will be working with the Samoan Teachers Association and the Samoan Studies Centre at Victoria University to encourage young people to text messages in Samoan during the week.
Samoan Language week is being promoted by FAGASA (the Association of Samoan Language Teachers) in association with the Human Rights Commission and a range of Samoan community, media and educational groups.
Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres said that the week provides an opportunity to raise awareness about the contribution of the Samoan community to New Zealand society, as well as to promote the Samoan language and culture. He said that very few people realise that the Samoan community is the fourth largest ethnic group in New Zealand and that the Samoan language is the third most commonly spoken language.
He encouraged mainstream media to feature stories about the Samoan community during Samoan Language Week as well as promoting some basic phrases that everyone can use. Activities will be taking place at schools throughout New Zealand and also in churches and communities. Details of some activities and demographic information on the Samoan community are available on the Samoan Language Week website.