Tag Archives: Culture

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.

UC Language and Cultural Exchange programme

Are you thinking about studying abroad, going on an exchange, or travelling overseas?

Or maybe you’re studying language courses at UC?

UC has launched a new programme to help you get together with fellow students to practice your language skills with native speakers and to meet people from international cultures.

UC Language and Cultural Exchange – or UC LACE – gives you the option of two streams to connect with students:

Language Exchange – if you’re enrolled in one or more language courses and would like to meet students from those countries for some language practice.

Cultural Exchange – if you’re looking at studying abroad, going on an exchange, or simply thinking about global travel and want to connect with students from the countries you’d like to visit.

Once you’ve registered to UC LACE, you’ll be matched with another student or group and can start your language and cultural exchange.

Develop global networks and friendships, prepare for an overseas trip and get experience with a new culture!

Read more about UC LACE and register.

International Welcome Day 17.2.15 getting to know each other, C Block lectures, lunch on the lawn.