Pacific Peoples Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga has welcomed Tongan Language Week, which starts today.
“Tongan Language Week this year focuses on how the loto (spirit) of the Tongan people has contributed to New Zealand. It looks at how Tongan culture has played a major role in shaping modern New Zealand’s pacific identity,” Mr Lotu-Iiga says.
“It is an opportunity to acknowledge, celebrate and promote Tongan language in New Zealand.”
Tongan people are the third largest Pacific group in New Zealand, with just over 60,000 people identifying as Tongan. More than half were born in New Zealand.
“The number of people who speak Tongan has been growing, from just over 23,000 people in 2001 to nearly 32,000 in 2013. It is important to promote the teaching and learning of Lea Faka-Tonga at home, at work and in everyday situations,” Mr Lotu-Iiga says.
This year the Ministry for Pacific Peoples has worked in partnership with Te Papa Tongarewa and Christchurch City Libraries to develop a free education resource that will help with learning Lea Tonga.
“This resource will help extend the reach of the language,” Mr Lotu-Iiga added.
Tongan Language Week / Uike Kātoanga’i ‘o e Lea Faka-Tonga takes place from today until 10 September. A full events calendar for Tongan Language Week and the Tonga language educational resource can be found here.