What might happen if we lose our Pacific languages
Tue, 26 Jun 2012 11:11a.m.
By Falaniko Tominiko
Tena Koutou Katoa, Kia Orana, Malo e Lelei, Fakalofalahi Atu, Nisa Bula Vinaka, Aloha, Iorana, Taloha Ni, Talofa Lava.
Monday of this week was the last day for submissions to the government against its proposed cutting of funds for Pacific language learning resources. This is a slap in the face to the many Pacific children who now, may not have the opportunity to learn their mother language. If you take away the language, you take away the culture. One cannot be sustained without the other. Not knowing one’s own Pacific language can actually create some problems for them. New Zealand born (and even NZ raised) Pacific children who do not know their Pacific culture and/or language can sometimes be alienated in their island homelands, and even by their own extended families, referred to as ‘fia palagi’ (wannabe white) or even worse ‘kinder surprises’ (brown on the outside, and white on the inside). I myself have been on the receiving end of such labelling.
Researches and studies have shown that children who are bilingual achieve better and the government’s move to cut funding to this particular area threatens the ability of current and future generations of Pacific children from having the ability to be bilingual, and as research suggests, “be successful”. There is a popular Samoan saying, “O fanau a manu e fafaga I fuga o la’au, a’o fanau o tagata a fafaga i upu” (the offspring of animals are fed with foliage, while offspring of humans are fed with words). This saying alludes to the importance of language. It is through language that the young generation are fed, nurtured and taught. Without it, one does not grow.
Why must it be that Pacific languages must go under the knife when it comes to government cost cuttings? Do they not know that the Pacific community is the fastest growing community in Aotearoa? Do they not know that the Pacific contains roughly a quarter of the entire world’s languages? Do they not know that Maori te reo, is a daughter language of Proto Polynesian Language, making it a sister language to almost every language in Polynesia? I guess they don’t. If they want to cut costs when it comes to our Pacific languages, then at least stop using it when it comes to speeches etc.
If the government wants to cut money from Pacific language learning resources and plug it into improving English literacy and numeracy, why not put the money into developing the text language curriculum, that way they can save money and kill two birds with one stone.
4exmpl, snce yth r bcumn mo n mo comp n fone savy y not invst $$$ n2 devlpn a lang currculm day can ol undrstnd n snce dis lang uzs bth wrds n nmbrs tz covrs bth litrcy n numrcy. Txtn s d way of d futr cos tz qwik, tz e-z n tz mch mo fun!!! Chncs r dat 1 day dis may bcum d lang f evrydy uz n wen tz duz, tz b 2 l8 2 dz anyfng bout it. So yo wot wld yo wnt, dat we concntr8 n Eng n nd up talkn n wrtng lyk dis, or cntinu supprtn our Pac langs so dat we cn lrn sumfng dat s imprtnt n usfl 2 us.
Post a Comment
Before commenting, please take the time to read our moderation guide
(Won't be published)
16/08/2012 4:23:39 p.m.
Why is it worth protecting PI Language you ask? Akld has the largest Pacific population in the world. NZs 3rd most spoken language is Samoan. About 7% of the NZ Pop are Pacific People and ever increasing. Pacific population is growing faster than rest of NZ Population. NZ also has a special 'constitutional' responsibility to ensure survival of specific PI Languages eg: Cook Is Maori, Niue, Tokelau. Language retention is impt for identity, self esteem and confidence. There are definite economic benefits of this to NZ. For generations PI ppl have made significant contributions to NZ, and today, ever increasing numbers of PI are in the labour market. PI language aids to increase skill levels to increase NZ economy. Bilingualism aids greater educational success. PI language/culture is not above any other language in NZ, but we need to recognise the population of ppl that reside here is growing, and language is not only a means of communication, but it provides a holistic approach to better the individual/community and nation.
5/07/2012 10:43:32 a.m.
If in Samoa (and other Pacific nations), children are encouraged and forced to speak English at schools and places of higher education are primarily taught in the English language, then it is only fair that Pacific languages be promoted and supported here. It is not a racial issue.....
4/07/2012 11:03:37 a.m.
If your in NZ and of welsh ancestry, do you have government funding for your ancestors language? Hardly.Oh wait. If we put money into a european ancestry, that would be wrong, but to hold some small language up above any european ancestry is okay? 100% reverse racism.If someone wants to hold on to culture they can, but the government should be neutral and not support one culture over another which is 100% racist.In the same way, government should be relgious neutral and not hold one religion above others.
27/06/2012 7:49:10 p.m.
Kia Ora Mihingarangi.True, are they really going to save any real money? Who knows?
26/06/2012 12:07:21 p.m.
Mihingarangi Forbes wrote:
Nga mihi o te ngakau ki a koe e Niko,
My oldest children have been blessed with the opportunity to learn two languages having grown up in Kohanga Reo, moving through Kura and now one in Highschool. The difference to other young fair looking Maori is they know who they are through their Reo, where they're from and where they're going. Our baby boy is now starting out his language journey through A'oga. I'm desperate for him to have the same opportunities as his older sisters but absolutely share the same concerns as you do. Why do our children have their resources clipped? It's hardly going to save any real dollars!
Falaniko Tominiko is studying a PhD in Pacific Studies, focusing on Chiefly systems. He discusses the development and changes of the Matai (Chief) system in Samoa.
Copyright © 2013 MediaWorks TV. All Rights Reserved.