Tongan Language Week encourages Tongan NZers to nurture native tongue

By Numia Ponika-Rangi

As the Tongan community of NZ launch Tongan Language Week, we find that it's not only the language that's been celebrated and taught here, it's also the culture and ancestral beliefs with a spiritual and holistic approach.

There are some students of Tongan heritage born and raised in NZ, under a programme Api Fakakoloa which encourages families and children to learn their language and culture at home.

Barron Tavake Afeaki says that this programme is ultimately a way to enhance learning the language in a Tongan household surrounded by generations of support.

The theme of Tongan Language Week 2014 is aimed at the migrant population here in NZ.

Linda Manuatu, chairperson of Tongan Language Week says , “In Tonga, we say "Fakakoloa o Aotearoa, a ke a lea faka-tonga,” and that's the theme of Tongan Language Week, is to encourage Tongan migrants such as ourselves to think with our children who are now born and raised here."

“The challenge for Tongan migrants here is that everything around us is in the English language,” says Barron Tavake Afeaki.

Tongan Language Week will be full of celebrations, language, culture and songs, and these children will play a part in the survival of Tongan in NZ.