A Tuvaluan leader in Aotearoa New Zealand is urging his community to take their eligible family members to get vaccinated against Covid-19.
The call comes as Tuvaluans celebrate Vaiaso o te Gana Tuvalu - Tuvalu Language Week which was launched on Sunday.
This year's celebrations in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland have been moved online because of the lockdown restrictions in the city.
The Tuvalu Auckland Community president Uelese Malaga said the theme is 'Fakaakoigina tou iloga kae tukeli ke magoi mote ataeao' which in English means embracing our culture and a more secure, vibrant future.
Malaga said 'Fakaakoigina tou iloga kae tukeli ke magoi mote ataeao' also highlights the important role language and culture has when securing a vibrant future for Tuvaluans across Aotearoa.
He said it encouraged the language and culture to be embraced to build strong foundations of perseverance, success and health equity.
The weeklong program is expected to encourage Tuvaluans to take a holistic view of their well-being and positive outcomes amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Malaga said the theme also reminded them of the power of embracing both traditional and new ways of doing things amid the global health crisis.
"When my father would teach me how to carve, he would always say: 'action speaks louder than words'.These words give me strength and are words that are still true today," Malaga said.
He said last year, Covid-19 hit the small Tuvalu community hard.
"Our families struggled. Even I found it hard at times.
"But there's one thing I know for sure, after 79 years of my journey in this life, together with faith action and unity all things are possible.
"So let us come together and protect ourselves from Covid-19. Take action - do it for each other. Get your vaccine," Malaga said.
Theme links language to well-being: Minister
Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito William Sio launched the weeklong celebrations.
This year marked the 12th year the Pacific language weeks in Aotearoa, he said.
"This year's theme reflects the over-arching 2021 Pacific Language Week theme of Well-being, by linking the importance of language to overall well-being.
"It encourages language and culture to be embraced to build strong foundations of perseverance, success, and health equity," Aupito said.
He urged Tuvaluans to get vaccinated against Covid-19.
Another Tuvalu community leader, Reverend Suamalie Iosefa Naisali, said he had no idea how many Tuvaluans in New Zealand had received their Pfizer shots
Naisali said he was confident their vaccination rates are good, but there was no data from the government to support that.
Tuvaluans are listed under 'Other Pacific Islands' with Kiribati and Nauru.
Naisali said they had raised their concerns with the Health Ministry which said it couldn't provide data specifically for the Tuvaluan community.
This was because the focus had been on a wider, inclusive approach to vaccinate people from many Pacific nations, the ministry said.
Naisali said they could only track Tuvaluans getting vaccinated through the church and community Fono meetings.
Vaiaso o te Gana Tuvalu - Tuvalu Language Week - ends on Saturday.