As Tongan Language Week draws to a close, we hear from UC Early Childhood Education student Piliniuote Fifita.
Mālō e lelei!
Born and raised in Tonga has secured my pride in the heart of Tongan language, music, dance, traditional ceremonies and being part of a large group such as family, church and the community (village).
Celebrating the Tongan Language week is an opportunity that allows me to revisit my Tongan roots: ancestors, family, language, culture and art. It also allows me to reflect on the journey I had and how I have kept myself connected to my Tongan roots.
Being a student at the University of Canterbury, an education provider that acknowledges the significance of multiculturalism and the fact that it has a Pacific Development Team that actively supports and keeps me in the loop, has established a greater sense of belonging and confidence in my journey as a student.
It is a great honour to be part of the Tongan Language week’s celebration. Drawing upon ‘revisiting my Tongan roots’, I have found my delightment giving birth to “Revival Tongan values”. This one week celebration is a chance to revitalise and enrich my cultural competencies in a diverse context.
This year’s theme is ‘Fakakoloa ‘a Aotearoa ‘aki ‘a e Loto’i Tonga’ — Enriching Aotearoa with the Tongan Spirit. To mark the importance of this year’s theme, I am going to wrap up the joy of my Tongan pride in celebrating the Tongan Language week, in a short composed Tongan art – Maau (Poem).
Tongan Language Week
You came flashing
As compatibly blazing
Cultural gravity, lifted me within
I blinked and winked to begin
Colour-coding my skin
You came in native words
Uike Lea Fakatonga! Mālō!
Make me a thousand songs
Let’s dance in woven-sarongs!