Tuvalu Language Week

Fākatalofa atu! The fourth Pacific language week of 2017, Tuvalu Language Week, will begin on Sunday 1 October – Saturday 7 October. 2017 marks the fifth annual Tuvalu Language Week held in New Zealand.

Tuvalu Language Week will provide a week of celebrations through music, song, dance, food, crafts and language – with events happening across the country.

For more information please visit the Ministry website or Facebook page. Tuvalu Language Week is promoted by Auckland Tuvalu Community Trust with support from the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs, community members and other organisations.

Events will be held around the country to celebrate Tuvaluan language, culture and contributions to New Zealand. To follow events on social media, use #TuvaluLanguageWeek.

Tuvalu Language Week Theme

The theme of the week is ‘Fano ki mua kae sa puli tou iloga’  — Progress to thrive not forgetting your roots.

The theme for 2016 was ‘Ulu kite fatu e malu ei koe’ which translates into ‘shelter in the rock for your safety’. This encourages Tuvaluans that Jesus is the Rock and the main source of their language, culture and their identity. 

The theme for Tuvalu language Week 2015 was: Tau Gana Ko Tou Iloga – Language is your identity.

The theme for Tuvalu language Week 2014 was: Tuvalu Ko Tou Lagaifakalaga: ke Mau Mai Aulua FoeYour Language Keeps Your Culture Identity Afloat: Continue To Work Together.

Key Tuvalu words and phrases

  • Greetings: "Talofa"
  • Welcome: "Talofa"
  • Goodbye: "Tofa"
  • How are you: "Ea mai koe?"
  • Please: "Fakamolemole"
  • Respectfully: "Fakaaloalo"
  • Thank you: "Fakafetai lasi"

Tuvalu Language Week Events

The key events for Tuvalu Language Week 2016 can be found here.

Tuvalu Language Week Resources

Educational resource

The Ministry has worked closely with community groups and leaders to develop a learning resource. Te Papa Tongarewa has contributed to the resource.

Community poster

Help promote Tuvalu Language Week in your church, workplace, school or community group.

Tuvalu Language Week resources will be added here as soon as possible. 

Tuvaluans in New Zealand

  • There are 3,537 Tuvaluan people living in New Zealand (according to Census 2013). Of these, 72% live in Auckland, 12.5% in Wellington and the rest primarily in Otago. 
  • In 2006, Tuvaluans were the seventh largest Pacific ethnic group in New Zealand, making up 2,625 or 1 percent of New Zealand’s Pacific population (265,974).
  • Tuvaluans born in New Zealand account for 37 percent (954) of the total Tuvaluan population.
  • Of the Tuvaluans living in Auckland, the majority live in the Henderson-Massey Local Board Area – nearly 65%. 
  • Across NZ, there are four Tuvaluan Christian churches and a Tuvaluan playgroup in west Auckland, a Tuvaluan language programme on 531pi and Nui FM radio programmes and representation on Ministers Advisory Council and Auckland Council’s Pacific Panel. 
  • 71 percent (1,632) of the Tuvaluan population in New Zealand who could speak a language were able to hold an everyday conversation in Tuvaluan, which has not changed since 2001.
  • The Ministry has a close relationship with the Tuvaluan Community for many years. For example, in 2011 the Ministry supported the Tuvaluan community to develop their Tuvaluan Community Action Plan, which focused on the development and retention of the Tuvaluan language in New Zealand.

Further information about Tuvalu and the language 

  • Tuvalu is an island nation midway between Australia and Hawaii. It is the fourth smallest country in the world with an area of 26 square kilometres, and has the third smallest population (11,200) ahead of the Vatican City and Nauru. Claimed as a British protectorate in the late 19th century, Tuvalu became fully independent within the Commonwealth in 1978.
  • The Tuvaluan population increased by 34 percent (660) between 2001 and 2006.
  • The median age of the Tuvaluan population (half are younger and half are older than this age) was 20 years. By comparison, the median ages for the Pacific and total New Zealand populations were 21 years and 36 years, respectively.
  • 71 percent (1,635) of Tuvaluans are able to hold an everyday conversation in Tuvaluan. This figure has remained steady since 2001.
  • 96 percent (2,316) of Tuvaluans affiliated with a religion. Of those Tuvaluans who affiliated with a religion, 97 percent (2,244) affiliated with a Christian religion.
  • 59 percent (732) of Tuvaluan adults have a formal educational qualification (secondary school or post-school qualification). The comparable figures for the total Pacific and New Zealand populations were 65 percent and 75 percent, respectively.
  • A higher proportion of overseas-born Tuvaluans than New Zealand-born Tuvaluans were able to speak Tuvaluan (78 percent and 55 percent, respectively).