Tongan language week

Tongan communities in NZ acknowledge theme during Covid-19

Fakakoloa 'o Aotearoa 'aki 'a e Lotu Mo'oni, which translates to enriching Aotearoa New Zealand through prayer and faith, was a theme decided upon by the Tongan language week committee in September 2019.

For Dr. Linita Manu'atu, chairperson of the committee, said the term Lotu Mo'oni is more about God's spirit in us.

"With that spirit, people worship God in spirit and in truth and practice God's commandment, that is, love God with all your heart and love your neighbours as you love yourself," she explained.

Enriching Aoteara with the ‘Lotu Mo’oni’ highlights unification of Tonga

Tongan academic and former MP, Dr Sitiveni Halapua, says it was the missionaries' support and advice that made a huge impact on shaping Tonga’s political formation and system.

“Tonga moved very fast. Their constitution was written by the Prime Minister Shirley Baker and other missionaries in 1875 after being declared a Christian nation by Taufa’ahau, who was later crowned as King George Tupou," says Halapua.     

“It made bigger nations like German and the British recognise Tonga as a civilized country and a sovereign nation. 

Enriching Aoteara with the ‘Lotu Mo’oni’ highlights unification of Tonga

Tongan academic and former MP, Dr Sitiveni Halapua, says it was the missionaries' support and advice that made a huge impact on shaping Tonga’s political formation and system.

“Tonga moved very fast. Their constitution was written by the Prime Minister Shirley Baker and other missionaries in 1875 after being declared a Christian nation by Taufa’ahau, who was later crowned as King George Tupou," says Halapua.     

“It made bigger nations like German and the British recognise Tonga as a civilized country and a sovereign nation. 

Tongan Language Week to support NZ community's Covid response

The theme for the 2020 Uike Lea Faka-Tonga is "Fakakoloa 'o Aotearoa aki 'a e Lotu Mo'oni", which in English means "Enriching Aotearoa New Zealand through prayer and faith".

Aupito William Sio said in his experience the Tongan community throughout Aotearoa were deeply spiritual people, and their theme reflected their strong faith-based belief system like many in the Pacific.

"[The theme] underscores the practicality that faith and works must go hand in hand."

Tongan future leaders and public figures embrace their culture

MP Jenny Salesa, who was the first Tongan-born woman to enter the New Zealand Parliament, said as Tongan was her first language it has helped her serve the community effectively.

"You know I see quite a lot of people that come and see me because I am the only Tongan speaking MP.

"They come from all sorts of areas in Auckland, but I also get phone calls from right across Aotearoa because of the language issue.

"So many of our people don't speak very good English," she said.

Universities celebrate Tongan Language Week together

The University of Auckland and Auckland University of Technology are known to have an unspoken rivalry as neighbouring institutions.

The vice president of the Tongan Student Association of the University of Auckland (TAUA) Eleni Lokotui said it was not a dramatic, serious rivalry, but there was always a competitiveness between the two.

Ms Lokotui said the rivalry was more prominent during the annual gathering 'Amatakiloa' which all New Zealand Tongan groups attend.

‘Family values will keep Tongan language alive in NZ’

Tongan Language Week is being celebrated this week and its theme this year theme is 'Fakakoloa Aotearoa 'Aki 'Ae Nofo 'A Kainga' or 'Enriching Aotearoa with our Family Values'.

Sio Kihe La'a Talakai-'Alatini from the Pasifika Education Centre in Auckland said the emphasis on family values was crucial.

"For my children growing up in Aotearoa, this is how I want them to understand the Tongan language, through the values," she said.

She said Tongan values will help keep the language alive.

Learning mother tongue an asset, says Tongan-born NZ MP

Tonga-born MP Jenny Salesa said over her time in parliament she has asked principals and teachers what skills children need when they start school.

She said she had been told too many children of Tongan descent in New Zealand start school at the age of five speaking neither language fluently.

She has been stressing the message that learning Tongan can benefit their education overall.

Tongan language week kicks off in New Zealand

RNZ reports Tongan is the third-largest Pacific group in New Zealand with just over 60,000 people identifying as Tongan.

More than half of them were born in New Zealand.

New Zealand's Minister for Pacific Peoples Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga said the number of people who speak Tongan has been growing, from just over 23,000 people in 2001 to nearly 32,000 in 2013.

He said it's important to promote the teaching and learning of Lea Faka-Tonga at home, at work and in everyday situations.