Tongan Language Week which ran from September 4 - 10 was marked with celebrations and cultural activities across New Zealand along with a special celebration hosted by the Wellington Tongan Leaders’ Council in Wellington.
The Secretary of the Wellington Tongan Leaders' Council, Ms Edna ‘Ungatea Tu'itupou says every year the Wellington Leaders’ Council hosts a special celebration to honour their culture, language and traditions and encourages the whole Tongan community in Wellington to participate.
“We want to showcase our culture and most importantly to speak our Tongan language to show that we care and value our native language. Without language, we will lose our culture.
“We had a range of activities over the week and really showed how the spirit of our Tongan people has contributed to New Zealand.”
As part of the promotion, a polotu was held to launch the Tongan Language Week. It was a night of praise and worship attended by 12 different church denominations.
“This year we encouraged parents and families to get involved,” says Edna.
About 400 Tongans participated in the celebrations with over 20 community and congregational groups performing the Tongan dance as a way of embracing the Tongan culture.
Edna says they are part of the Pacific Whānau Ora contract and having this event was a great way to interact with families, elaborate on our role working under the Whānau Ora umbrella and assist parents and children learning and strengthening their identities as Tongans.”
“It warms your heart when you see many Tongans in the Capital with their ta'ovala running around, to hear them speak, on the only week of the year for them to showcase their Tongan identity.”
The number of people who speak Tongan has increased from 23,000 in 2001 to nearly 32,000 in 2013.
This year's language week theme was 'Fakakoloa ‘a Aotearoa 'aki 'a e faiva 'a e loto’i Tonga – Enriching Aotearoa with the Tongan spirit, which ran from 4 September to 10 September 2016.
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