17 Mar 2021

New champion honours to launch on NZ's Pacific language weeks

1:26 pm on 17 March 2021

The 2021 Pacific language weeks in New Zealand will see the introduction of Language Champion Honours.

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Photo: Jogai Bhatt

The Ministry for Pacific Peoples [MPP] carried out the Pacific Language Weeks Tivaivai Review, which highligted the changes community groups wanted to see in the annual celebrations of the nine Pacific languages.

2021 signalled a year of transition for the Pacific Language Weeks series, MPP would be assessing a themed approach, increase in funding and announcing Language Champion Honours.

Although officially termed "Language Weeks", many Pacific communities extended activities throughout the year with language funding support provided by MPP to enable year-long language learning initiatives.

Aupito William Sio said he wanted the Language Champions to be part and parcel of the Pacific Communities response.

"This began when The Pacific Aotearoa Lalanga Fou Report captured community voices. They affirmed that Pacific languages and cultures provide a strong foundation for their sense of wellbeing, and the importance of promoting Pacific role models.

"Pacific Language Weeks provides an opportunity to value and give status to Pacific languages in Aotearoa," he said.

Niueans celebrate their culture and language with songs and dances.

Niueans celebrate their culture and language with songs and dances. Photo: Ministry of Pacific Peoples

The inclusion of Language Champion Honours as part of the Pacific Language Weeks closing ceremonies was one of three key transitional changes that would be introduced and implemented this year.

Pacific communities expressed, through engagement with the ministry, the need to acknowledge the significant contribution, service and leadership, made by Pacific pioneers, past and present, who had championed languages in Aotearoa.

Aupito said the new honour was an opportunity to recognise these community leaders.

Each community will co-design with the Ministry, the selection criteria and process to honour language champions as part of their language week programmes.

Language Week Dates 2021:

- Rotuman Language Week: Sunday 9 May - Saturday 15 May

- Samoa Language Week: Sunday 30 May - Saturday 05 June

- Kiribati Language Week: Sunday 11 July - Saturday 17 July

- Cook Islands Language Week: Sunday 01 August - Saturday 07 August

- Tonga Language Week: Sunday 05 September - Saturday 11 September

- Tuvalu Language Week: Sunday 26 September - Saturday 02 October

- Fijian Language Week: Sunday 03 October - Saturday 09 October

- Niue Language Week: Sunday 17 October - Saturday 23 October

- Tokelau Language Week: Sunday 24 October - Saturday 30 October