Celebrating Sāmoa Language Week: Embracing ‘Tautua I le alofa, manuia le lumana’i’

Celebrating Sāmoa Language Week: Embracing ‘Tautua I le alofa, manuia le lumana’i’

This year’s Sāmoa Language Week celebrates the theme ‘Tautua I le alofa, manuia le lumana’i’ (serve in love for a blessed future). This theme highlights the practice of ‘tautua’ (service) and aligns with the broader theme of ‘Sustainability’ observed in Pacific Language Weeks. It underscores the importance of service, love, and sustainability for a prosperous future, while also shining a light on the rich cultural heritage of the Sāmoan language and its significance in today’s world.

Celebrating Sāmoa Language Week: Embracing ‘Tautua I le alofa, manuia le lumana’i’

The Journey of Gagana Sāmoa

Professor Jemaima Tiatia-Siau, the Pro Vice Chancellor (Pacific), is actively engaging in her journey with gagana Sāmoa. As she prepares for a UN panel discussion on the Pacific health crisis in Antigua & Barbuda from May 27th to 30th, she spoke about the challenges of preserving gagana Sāmoa.

“I’m on the gagana Sāmoa journey, and it comes down to – practise, practise, practise. Family and friends have been amazing,” Professor Tiatia-Siau shared. “I’ll always stuff up, so yes, it does take some courage. But it is such a beautiful language.”

Gagana Sāmoa in Aotearoa

In Niu Sila (Aotearoa/New Zealand), gagana Sāmoa ranks as the third most spoken language after te reo Māori and English. The vibrant Sāmoan community in New Zealand is a testament to the language’s enduring presence and significance.

Cyrus Meredith Melhuish, an undergraduate student majoring in Politics and Asian Studies at the University of Auckland, organised events for Sāmoa Language Week at the university. Proud of his Sāmoan heritage, Cyrus acknowledges the challenges of maintaining the language while living in Aotearoa.

“It’s such a beautiful language, and it’s practice really, we use a lot of Sāmoan terms at home every day,” Cyrus said. “Mum uses it a lot when she’s telling me off, especially when I’m supposed to be doing my essay and I’m playing a game.”

Insights on Sāmoan Language and Culture

Lemoa Henry Fesuluai, a Sāmoa language lecturer at the University of Auckland, has been actively contributing insights on Sāmoan language and culture in media discussions. He emphasizes the importance of understanding the Sāmoan language, especially in the context of translation and cultural nuances.

Mr. Fesuluai discussed the complexities of translating Sāmoan words and how one’s understanding of the language can affect translation. He highlighted the significant differences in the historical context behind Sāmoan and English words, stressing the importance of understanding these nuances.

“It’s about which lens a person is interpreting words from,” Mr. Fesuluai explained. He also addressed the problem of anti-blackness and how it relates to the use and understanding of language, noting that word meanings are often influenced by relationships and situational contexts.

Celebrations at the University of Auckland

The University of Auckland’s Waipapa Taumata Rau kicked off Sāmoa Language Week with an ‘Ava ceremony in the Quad at the city campus on Monday. The event, hosted by the University’s Sāmoan Students Association, marks the beginning of a series of activities throughout the week designed to celebrate Sāmoa Language Week.

These activities not only promote gagana Sāmoa but also foster a deeper understanding and appreciation of Sāmoan culture among students and the wider community.

Looking Forward

As Sāmoa Language Week progresses, the theme ‘Tautua I le alofa, manuia le lumana’i’ serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of service and love in creating a blessed and sustainable future. Through events, discussions, and educational activities, the celebration of gagana Sāmoa continues to strengthen the ties between Sāmoan language, culture, and community.

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