Tongan language week was celebrated at Massey University yesterday with speeches and a lively performance by the Northcote College’s student cultural group.
Celebrations have been held across New Zealand this week.
Events to come include a film festival and a day of activities on Saturday.
The celebration was opened by the director of the university’s Pasifika centre, Associate Professor Malakai Koloamatangi.
Guest speaker Siaosi ‘Ilaiū said Tongans should use their most important values to enrich New Zealand society in whatever field.
He said this was in line with the motto of language week which was ‘Nofo-‘a-Kāinga: A Tongan way of enriching Aotearoa New Zealand.’
‘Iliaū is a Phd candidate who has been researching the connections between Tongan philosophy and the ideas of ancient Greek philosophers such as Socrates and Aristotle.
Entertainment for the opening ceremony was provided by selected members of the Northcote College Tongan cultural group, led by Tofia Taufalele.
The group draws in Tongan and part-Tongan students from several schools and is a regular performer at Polyfest.
The group played a number of traditional songs as well as performing several Tongan dances, including the paddle dance.
Guests at the event were invited to join a meal of pork, yam and taro.
One of the highlights of yesterday’s event at Massey was a performance by Soane Tatuila Pusiaki, who played the nose flute, or fangu fangu.
He said the instrument’s name conveyed the idea that the musician breathed in life and blew out a tune.
He said they were traditionally used by about five families who served as court musicians in Tonga.
They would be played outside the sleeping quarters of the royal family to wake them in the morning.
One of his ancestors came from one of these families and so the instrument was handed down to him.
His grandfather taught him to play it.
Pusiaki teaches Tongan at Northcote High and is the only teaching doing this on the shore.
He has 11 students, two of them from Tonga.
He said there was a problem with second generation language loss and said that in some cases if children did not speak Tongan at school they would not speak it at all.
The main points
- Tongan language week was celebrated at Massey University yesterday with speeches and a lively performance by the Northcote College’s student cultural group.
- Guest speaker Siaosi ‘Ilaiu said Tongans should use their most important values to enrich New Zealand society in whatever field.
- Celebrations have been held across Tonga this week.
- Events to come include a film festival and a day of activities on Saturday.
More Tongan language week events
Tonga short films (Friday)
Tongan language week Te Oro arts centre (Saturday)