Tag Archives: UC students

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.

Rising star Q&A: Kate Walsh


The Rising Star column profiles students who have had close contact with the UC Sustainability Office and have graduated from UC, or will graduate very soon. In this column they share what they are currently doing and what their plans are for the future.

This edition’s Rising Star is Kate Walsh, who did an internship at the Sustainability Office focused on understanding students’ access of healthy and affordable food  and is now living in Melbourne.

When were you at UC? What did you qualify in?  I studied at UC from 2013 to 2015 and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Geography.

What have you been doing since you graduated? I have recently moved to Melbourne! It is the world’s most livable city and I wanted to experience that! While I was at University I watched a movie called The Human Scale. It explored how people relate to their cities and public spaces. An example was the re-energizing of Melbourne’s laneways – something that has really drawn me to this city. The public transport and cycling infrastructure is great, the markets are fantastic and there is always something happening. I recently visited CERES Community Environment Park – such an interesting and exciting place.

What are you doing in your current job? What are you most excited about? I am currently working for a social enterprise in Melbourne. It provides homeless and marginalised youth with a supported pathway from the streets to a sustainable job in the hospitality industry through youth programs and experience in cafes. I am excited to learn more about how the hospitality industry can address issues in society and actively do something about it.

What did you do with/for the Sustainability Office? I completed an internship in my final semester with the sustainability office and the food resilience network. My project was to understand students’ access to healthy and nutritious food. I also went to them to ask for advice and to talk about other projects and they were always so helpful and positive about what I was doing. (For an idea of the work Kate was involved in, see here.)

How has the UC Sustainability Office contributed to your thinking and/or skill development in relation to sustainability? They always challenged me. While I always left the offices with more to think about and research, it was always exciting and interesting.

Do you have a favourite ‘sustainability moment’ on campus? The Student Food Forum that I organised as part of my project to understand students access to healthy and affordable food. This involved getting speakers, gathering student’s views and organizing all the things that go into managing an event – including a free lunch! I learnt a lot about research processes and communication as I had to talk to a lot of people and get them involved. I feel that this project gave me a lot of transferable skills that have helped me a lot so far since leaving The University of Canterbury and that I know will continue to help me in the future.

Keep up to date with Sustainability news at UC through our Facebook page. Or through our website. Check here for more about how to get involved with Sustainability at UC. For more information about food resilience and Edible Canterbury, check out the the Edible Canterbury Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/ediblecanterbury or their website http://www.edible.org.nz