11 Apr 2012

Samoans challenged to use language more

8:46 pm on 11 April 2012

The Government is challenging the Samoan community in New Zealand to use its language more.

The association of Samoan language teachers says New Zealand's third most common language will keep slowly dying until it becomes more widely taught in schools.


The call was made at a meeting, or fono, of about 30 experts and teachers from Samoan language organisation FAGASA in Dunedin on Wednesday.

Association president Galumalemana Alfred Hunkin says surveys show the proportion of New Zealand-born Samoans who can speak the language has fallen to about 40%.

Mr Hunkin there are 86 full immersion Samoan and bi-lingual early childhood centres, but the Government's resources are being wasted because fewer than 30 schools provide further education.

He says English gets millions of dollars of resources, while Samoan slowly dies.

But National Party MP Sam Lotu-Iiga told the fono the Government cannot justify a large intervention and the community must do more for itself.

Mr Lotu-Iiga says the language is a living, breathing entity which must be used more in community events at churches and in people's homes.

The Government will keep trying to make its language programmes more effective, but does not hold the main keys to its survival, he says.