Malo lava le soifua maua ma le lagi e mama.

O lo’u igoa o Ulu Afaese.

Ou te sau mai nu’u o Falealili Matautu, ma Sagone.

In New Zealand, the Ministry of Pacific Peoples, as with other leaders in the community, celebrates and supports a range of Pacific language weeks. Not only do the language weeks promote the language, but they also aim to revitalise the use or in the case of a number of these languages start the process of ensuring their survival. The week of 30th May-5th June 2021 was Samoan Language Week.

The theme for the 2021 Samoan language week was ‘Poupou le lotoifale. Ola manuia le anofale’ which translates to ‘strengthen the posts of your house, for all to thrive’. A house cannot stand on a weak foundation and to strengthen this foundation it is critical that an understanding of our culture and language is taught in the family, in schools, and in church. This translation and understanding of the proverb made me think of the many items we have on this site.

The week coincided with Samoa's independence day, which is celebrated on June 1st. I believe the story of Samoa’s struggle for independence from New Zealand is one of sadness but also hope. It is a story to be celebrated and the people who played a part in that journey commemorated. You could say that the fight for independence was a way to strengthen our fale from colonial rule and thrive as a people.

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As the content analyst for this role has not only connected me with people trying to preserve our Pasifik heritage, but it has also connected me with places and institutions that have Samoan images, text, video, and audio. It is good to see items with parts of the metadata in Samoan as well.

Without getting too personal with you, my journey with gagana Samoa is a complicated one, as it is for those in the diaspora. Even though my tama and tina tried to get us to speak it at home, it could not stick. One could describe it as a sobering mix of a lack of confidence, a need to assimilate, and the notion that when I wake up every morning the language will always greet me with a jandal yelling “Nofo i luga!” (Get up!).

I can understand some Samoan and can just grasp the context of what is being said, but if you asked me to talk keep a conversation going with one of our elders, I would laugh awkwardly and walk off quietly.

In saying that, I’ve decided to enrol in an online gagana Samoa course that begins next week with the Pacific Education Centre. In my time working in this sector, my passion for Pasifik people being able to access and tell their own stories and histories has only grown. However, I myself cannot talk about that passion if the knowledge of the language of my ancestors is weak. It may seem a small step for some, but an important one if we are to strengthen our fale in the future.

If you are like me and want to strengthen your knowledge of gagana Samoa, I wish you nothing but the best with your journey. Soifua!

Welcome and warm Pasifik greetings

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