25 Oct 2016

Tokelauan leader asks parents to use language more in homes

6:41 am on 25 October 2016

A community leader in New Zealand is appealing to Tokelauans to speak their language in the home all year round and not just during their language week.

Vaiaho o te Gagana Tokelau kicked off with a combined service over the weekend and a flag raising ceremony in Wellington on Monday.

The Reverend Tui Sopoaga said although there are over 7,000 Tokelauans in New Zealand, nearly seven times more than in Tokelau, less than a third can speak the language.

Tokelauan comunity leader, Rev Tui Sopoaga

Tokelauan comunity leader, Rev Tui Sopoaga Photo: RNZI / Koro Vaka'uta

Mr Sopoaga said part of the problem is parents who don't speak Tokelauan in the home because of fears their children's English may struggle.

"We requested to them to speak in our language, Tokelau language at home," he said.

"The children will learn the English language no problem, at school and on the road and everywhere but it is good to maintain the Tokelau language at home.

"That's where the first lessons should be."

Mr Sopoaga said he has seen progress being made since the first Gagana Tokelau week, four years ago, but more needs to be done to save the endangered language.