All posts by vpm16

What my Tongan language means to me?

Koe ‘Otua mo Tonga Ko Hoku Tofi’a.

One of the few Tongan phrases I know but the one that speaks to me the most.

Embedded in our deep love for God and Tonga is our language. Our language tells our stories from the sea-farers that came before us, and will be the same language for future generations.

Tongan language is a way for those who are born outside of Tonga to stay connected to our roots. It is our connection to our traditions, culture, and ways of life. Simple words like faka’apa’apa and talangofua hold deep meanings and at times there are no words in the English dictionary that can be used to fully translate such words.

What does Tongan language mean to me?

When I hear the hymns being sung in church, or even a simple conversation, I feel as though I am somewhat proud to be Tongan. Before I moved to Dunedin for University, I can safely say that I was rarely exposed to the Tongan language. I went to church but I did not understand, I sung the hymns but did not understand, I would hear my mother and her relatives laughing over a cup of tea but I did not understand. This never really bothered me until I moved.

For the first time in life I found myself with a group of Tongan friends, who not only spoke in Tongan but actually knew the culture and the traditions. At this point, I learnt that our language carries our culture, traditions and ways of life. Our language is the essence of who we are. When I hear another person speaking Tongan I light up, because there is someone else who I can identify with. Language bring us together, it gives us the opportunity to celebrate our identity, and for that I will be eternally grateful.

By creating safe and comfortable spaces where our Tongan students feel free to speak their language, laugh in their language and interact with each other is important. Within the Canterbury University Tongan Students Association we aim to promote this. Being able to create these kind of spaces creates a home away from home for our Tongan students from all over New Zealand as well as the world.

What my Cook Island language means to me?

Cook Island Language week 2019

My grandmother is a Cook Islander and my grandfather was a Papa’a (NZ European). Both of them could speak fluent Cook Island Māori. As a child I would hear them speaking to each other in this language. As I was nearing the end of my primary school years I became more and more curious as to what it was they were saying when speaking in Cook Island Māori. So I took on the challenge of learning the language myself. As the years went by I could eventually hold full conversations with my grandparents in Cook Island Māori.

The Cook Island Māori language holds significance in my immediate family as my grandmother and I are now the only ones who speak it since my grandfather’s passing in 2016. I have unknowingly helped carry on an important aspect of my grandmother’s life. The feeling of happiness and satisfaction I get when speaking to my extended family, or even just my grandmother, is all because we are speaking in OUR special language. I get an overwhelming feeling of fellowship and love when I hear our language being spoken by others. The language is something I hold close to my heart. For people who feel ashamed for not knowing their mother tongue, it is never too late to learn.

Kia Orana e Kia Manuia

Josua Isaac Owen Sullivan Te Maru Ariki Houghton

Vaiaso o le gagana Samoa – Samoan Language Week 2019

What does my language mean to me?

O la’u gagana Samoa, O la’u Measina lea. My language is my treasure, it helps me to understand and learn the customs and traditions in my culture, through communicating in my mother tongue. One of many significant alagaupu (proverbs) that derived from our beautiful Samoan language. Words of encouragement and blessing from our ancestors which has been passed down to our parents.

Samoan language is very important to me because it is the pearl of my existence as a Samoan girl who was born and raised in New Zealand. The dialect of our language is extremely significant to me as each word connects me to my culture. We are exposed to the uprising changes within our society and yet I try my best to carry and apply this quote to my life because the blessing from our parents shaped and equipped us through our journey. Although I am not fluent in Samoan, I treasure my language every day. Evidently, it is something that I hold dear to my heart, as our forefathers are the grassroots of our Samoan language, which ties myself back to my ancestors and the foundations that they have left for us which is my identity.  

Learning from the proverb above brings a sense of pride and willingness to preserve and treasure the in-depth love that inherited in us by our ancestors. “O ou mama na” (Go well and be blessed).

Manuia le vaiaso o le gagana Samoa! 

Keruby Ioane is studying toward a Bachelor of Arts majoring in English and Human Services with a minor in History.

Find out more about Samoan Language Week 2019 here