Community involvement key to saving Pasifika languages

The Minister of Education and Pacific Island Affairs in New Zealand, Hekia Parata, says the responsibility for maintaining cultural languages rests first with communities.Cook Islands Language Week is being celebrated in New Zealand for a second year.Some in the community say that good work is being done in teaching Cook Island Maori in early childhood education, but not enough is being done later on in the education system.Hekia Parata says her focus has very much been in early childhood education, and the government also supports schools to teach pasifika languages.But she says the community needs to be the main driver of this. “The first responsibility is that these communities are themselves interested in and engaged with our own languages and are speaking them in the homes and in informal community situations. Schools can support that work, but should not be the main carriers of it.”Hekia Parata says it’s not possible for the government to produce teachers in all the languages that communities might like, but schools can achieve this with strong community support.

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