Here in Central Otago we have many Pacific cultures represented, creating a rich and diverse community.

Language is a key cornerstone for the health and wellbeing of Pacific people.

History shows us that a loss of language leads to a loss of culture and identity.

Minister for Pacific Peoples Barbara Edmonds has highlighted the need to revitalise and sustain languages for future generations.

“Pacific languages are a cornerstone of our health, wellbeing and identity as Pacific peoples. When our languages are spoken, heard and celebrated, our communities thrive,” she said.

“We have seen how crucial supporting our indigenous languages are in New Zealand. During the pandemic and recent extreme weather events, languages played a huge role in keeping our Pacific communities connected.

“I want to encourage everyone to get involved in the Pacific Language Weeks and celebrate each of these unique languages, which enrich and diversify our country,” she said.

This week, from May 28 to June 3, is Vaiaso o le Gagana Samoa — Samoa Language Week 2023.

The theme of the week is: ‘‘Mitamita i lau gagana, maua’a lou fa’asinomaga’’, which means ‘‘Be proud of your language and grounded in your identity’’.

It focuses on the importance of the Samoan language and identity, and impresses on people the need not only to understand the language, but also to use it as much as possible.

When people are proud of their language and can speak it, they will also be more grounded in their identity.

Mitamita i lau gagana, maua’a lou fa’asinomaga encourages Samoan language pride in four key areas:

Be proud of your ancestral language.

Be proud of your spiritual language.

Be proud of your language in your families.

Be proud of your written language.