Mālō e lelei!
The theme for Tongan Language Week is ‘Fakakoloa ‘a Aotearoa ‘aki ‘a e Loto’i Tonga’ (Enriching Aotearoa with the Tongan Spirit). Today second year Social Work student Ailine Kei shares how she finds pride in her Tongan culture.
Tongan Language Week, alongside the other Pacific language weeks, is important for young Pasifika people because it gives them the opportunity to learn and embrace the history of their culture and language. Tongan is my first language and it has made me grateful that I have parents and family members that taught me the language and its importance.
I love being a Tongan and belonging to a tight Tongan community that cares for, and appreciates their young people. However, there are a lot of young Tongan people who do not get involved with their culture because they are afraid of what the community will say. Many of the Tongan youth are hesitant when speaking the language around the older generations because they feel they are not saying it correctly or being “ta’eanga” (too Palagi) because they are involved in activities that are not anga fakatonga (the Tongan Way).
Growing up in a Tongan home I was always taught to be proud of who I am. My grandfather is Samoan and my grandmother is Indian Fijian; so that’s extra blessings for my siblings and me to embrace and embark on a journey of finding who we are within these cultures. For me, knowing who I am and where I come from is enough for me to represent my country and culture with pride.
Photo: Ailine (right) receiving a UC XL award with her mother