Tag Archives: Samoan Language Week

Samoan Language Week – ‘Kindness given, kindness gained’

“O la’u gagana o lo’u fa’asinomaga, o la’u gagana o lo’u mitamitaga, o la’u gagana o lo’u maluapapa”
“My language is my identity, my language is my pride, and my language is my shelter”

My language defines me and my ancestors. They sacrificed for my freedom, to speak freely and when appropriate. My language is a part of my identity that I take pride in.

I see it as my comfort zone because I feel confident when I speak my language as opposed to English. I don’t have to worry about “fobbing out” in front of people. This is what my language means to me as a Tama’ita’i Samoa (a woman of Samoa).

Words, when spoken in Samoan, lend very deep meaning. They say that words hurt more than anything else, and I tell you Samoan words hurt me a million times more than English words could. However, Samoan words are also the most soothing to me, for example when you hear an elder (or anyone in particular) speak our mother tongue. The words are spoken with so much grace and knowledge, you can feel the joy they bring. This is a constant reminder that our talatu’u – history was passed down from generation to generation through (mostly) stories.

This week is not only about celebrating our language, it’s also a celebration of our culture. The theme this year is – “Kindness given, Kindness gained” for Samoan Language Week (27 Mē – 2 Juni 2018). Kindness also known in Samoan as ‘Agalelei’ is one of the core foundations of Fa’a Samoa (Samoan culture and traditions). Everything you do within our culture, you should do it with kindness and with no expectation of anything in return.

This week is also a week of remembrance as Samoa celebrates its fifty-sixth year of Independence. We remember our people who fought hard for the freedom that we get to enjoy today.

‘If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language that goes to his heart.’ Nelson Mandela

Ia manuia le vaiaso ole Gagana Samoa.

Wherever you go, Samoa will always be your home

Born and raised in Samoa, UC Bachelor of Science student Victoria Faalilo says moving to Canterbury in 2012 was a challenge. She says reconnecting with her culture through the UC Pacific Development Team and CUSSA has been a big help. She shares her thoughts on the importance of Samoan Language Week.

Talofa Lava,

Around this time every year, the Samoan communities around New Zealand celebrate Samoan Language Week. They celebrate through dance, songs and sharing stories, or even over a Samoan feed such as Sapasui (Chop Suey). This week is not only about the language but also about other aspects of the Samoan culture. The theme for this year is E felelei manu ae ma’au i o latou ofaga – “Birds migrate to environments where they survive and thrive.”

Being a Samoan is not about the tattoos or how well and graceful we perform the Samoan Siva. God, respect, love and family are some of the values that the Samoan people strongly believe in and that lie within the beauty of Fa’a Samoa. These are what we should value as Samoans and we should let them be our priorities.

Victoria_photopreferenceThe younger generations are so afraid of speaking because they’re scared of people looking down on them when they are not quite on their level, which is why I choose to quote this: “Learn to speak Samoan, not so you may sound Samoan but so you may feel the essence of being a Samoan” – Lemalu Tate Simi.

Wherever you go, Samoa will always be home.

Soifua ma Ia Manuia.

 – Victoria Faalilo

Samoan Language Week is next week

Samoan Language Week runs from 29 May until 4 June. Samoan is the third most spoken language in New Zealand and UC currently has around 200 students of Samoan descent. We asked one of our Samoan students, Wilson Uliana, to talk about why the week is important for him.

Talofa Lava,

My name is Wilson Uliano and next week is Samoan Language Week or Vaiaso o le Gagana Sāmoa. The theme is ‘E felelei manu, ae ma’au i o latou ofaga’, meaning ‘birds migrate to environments where they survive and thrive’.

Samoan Language Week is a great time for New Zealanders, especially students , to explore the values of Samoan culture and to embrace the language and symbols of Samoa. A great place to start is this education resource. The week is also important for Samoan people to be able to maintain their culture or enhance their current knowledge.

Photo: Wilson (right) with fellow UC Samoan student Viane Makalio at the recent Growing Pasifika Solutions conference in Auckland.
Photo: Wilson (right) with fellow UC Samoan student Viane Makalio at the recent Growing Pasifika Solutions conference in Auckland.

For me, Samoan Language Week is important because it is a chance for non-Samoans to be able to speak the language, embrace the culture, and even experience some amazing Samoan food – for example Chop Suey. Keep an eye on the UC Pacific Development Team and University of Canterbury Samoan Students’ Association (CUSSA) Facebook pages next week for some fun language videos.

People are also able to engage with their aiga or family and for non-Samoans, they are able to learn fa’a Samoa – the Samoan way. Christchurch City Libraries also have some fun family events planned for the week.

For myself, growing up in a full Samoan family is amazing and usually Samoan Language Week is a time for me to be proud of where I come from, be proud of my family and our traditions, and be proud of who I am as a Samoan.

Faafetai Lava

– Wilson Uliano