Tonga Language Week creates cultural connections
‘E tu’uloa ‘a e Lea Faka-Tongá ‘o ka lea’aki ‘i ‘api, siasi (lotú), mo e nofo-‘a-kāingá – the Tongan language will be sustainable if used at home, church and in the wider community.
Uike Lea Faka-Tonga – Tonga Language Week, which runs from September 3-9, brings together Tongan communities across Aotearoa to connect through events, storytelling, and shared activities highlighting the importance of preserving this indigenous Pacific language.
Ben Tameifuna, Senior Manager Disability and Public Health, opened Tonga Language Week at Le Va by introducing the theme for 2023: ‘E tu’uloa ‘a e Lea faka-Tongá ‘o ka lea’aki ‘i ‘api, siasí (lotú), mo e nofo-‘a-kāingá, meaning the Tongan language will be sustainable if used at home, church and in the wider community.
The Le Va team celebrated with a Tongan morning tea for their Harakeke House colleagues, sharing ‘otai (fruit drink), pineapple pie, and keke ‘isite (doughnuts). Max Tuipulotu, Senior Project Coordinator at Le Va and an experienced dancer and choreographer, demonstrated Tongan dance moves and blessed the food.
Later in the week, Le Va’s Tongan staff, including Chief Executive Denise Kingi-‘Ulu’ave, shared a presentation with their colleagues on their family backgrounds and Tonga’s history and culture. The feast that followed was full of laughter, music and fellowship.
In the lead up to World Suicide Prevention Day on 10 September, Le Va is highlighting the top five tactics for preventing suicide for Pasifika people. One of those tactics is ‘Cultural Identity’, with evidence showing that culture gives a sense of belonging and pride and is a protective factor for suicide.
The Pacific Language Weeks, supported by the Ministry for Pacific Peoples since 2010, are an opportunity to celebrate and promote the diversity of Pacific languages in Aotearoa, strengthening those cultural connections for our teams and for our communities.