26 Oct 2012

New Zealand to mark Tokelau Language Week

12:21 pm on 26 October 2012

The use of the Tokelauan language in New Zealand is falling and this has prompted next week's first ever Tokelau Language Week.

The Ministry of Pacific Islands Affairs is charged with helping protect Pacific Islands languages and official Hekea Robertson says since the 2001 census there has been a four percent fall in those speaking Tokelauan.

He says now about 40 percent of the about 8,000 Tokelauans in New Zealand are using the language conversationally.

He says there is a strong desire to retain the language but there is a need for more promotion and that's behind the theme, 'hold fast to the treasures of Tokelau.'

"And so that reflects the message by the Tokelau leaders that it is the responsibility of the Tokelau community to keep their language alive, so that is part of the promotion of Tokelau Language Week this year, which is the first ever Tokelau Language Week, to put the message out to Tokelau communities, that hey, if we want our language to survive then we need to take control, we need to be the ones to be responsible for promoting and taking ownership of this."

Hekea Robertson of the Ministry of Pacific Islands Affairs