Samoan Language Week 2011

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Samoan students carrying on a proud tradition

“O fanau a tagata e fafaga i upu, a o fanau a manu e fafaga i fugalaau”

The young of birds are fed with the blossoms of trees whereas the young of humans are fed with words

Samoan Language Week kicks off at Wellington East Girls College on Tuesday 31 May with students from around the Wellington region celebrating the language of Samoa in song, oratory and performance.

Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres says they carry on a proud tradition.

“The first Samoan scholarship students arrived to board in New Zealand schools more than 55 years ago.  Carrying the hopes of their families and villages many went on to help build the constitution and government of Samoa: the first Pacific nation to gain its independence,” said Mr de Bres.

“Those students who left home in 1945 came to New Zealand with a thirst for knowledge as well as a deep commitment to faasamoa, their culture and language.”

“They have left an impressive legacy of academic and cultural strength.”

Samoan Language Week starts on Wednesday 1 June, Samoan Independence Day.  Hundreds of events are taking place in schools and communities throughout New Zealand, Australia and the United States.  This year the theme for Samoan Language Week is Samoa Ola: Samoa Active, focusing upon language, sport and healthy living.

"As the eyes of the world turn to New Zealand and the Rugby World Cup this year, Samoan Language Week also celebrates Samoan sporting icons who are Samoan language and culture role models."

Samoan is one of New Zealand’s most widely spoken languages and the aim of the week is to celebrate gagana Samoa (Samoan language) in homes, schools, workplaces, government agencies, the media, arts, churches, sports clubs and communities.

Thousands of supporters of the week from around the world are connecting through the Facebook Page set up last year by the Human Rights Commission and the NZ National Commission for UNESCO.

Principal partners for the week are FAGASA (Samoan language teachers association), the Human Rights Commission, UNESCO and the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs.  This Saturday 4 June, Rotorua's Samoan community will host a special event at which Samoan Language Week's 2011 Champions will be announced.

Samoan Language Week was first promoted by Radio Niu FM as part of a series of Pacific language weeks leading up to Māori Language Week. Since 2007 it has been promoted in schools by the Association for the Teaching of Samoa in Aotearoa, FAGASA Inc , Faalapotopotonga mo le Aoaoina o le Gagana Samoa i Aotearoa. In 2009 FAGASA and the Human Rights Commission partnered with other organisations to extend the week to the wider New Zealand community.

The aims of Samoan Language Week 2011 are to:
• Celebrate the Samoan language and culture in New Zealand and globally
• Promote the teaching and learning of the Samoan language
• raise awareness of the Samoan language as one of the most widely spoken languages in New Zealand
• Promote the use of the Samoan language in association with Manu Samoa’s participation in the Rugby World Cup 2011
• promote initiatives to maintain and grow the recognition, learning and use of the Samoan language in the home, in education, at work, in government, in the media, in sport, in the arts, in the church and in the community.

There are over 130,000 Samoan New Zealanders. The Samoan community is the fourth largest ethnic community after NZ Europeans (2,381,000), Māori (565,000), and Chinese (147,000). The Samoan language is the third most commonly spoken language in New Zealand after English and Māori.

Samoan Language Week is an opportunity to celebrate the Samoan language in New Zealand, to recognise the language and culture of Samoan New Zealanders, to build bridges between cultures and to ensure that the language continues to be used widely in New Zealand in the future.

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