Tokelau champions language and culture

COVID-19 continues to be a powerful reminder of the importance of language and culture to the wellbeing of our Pacific communities, said the Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio.

“Our Tokelau community in Aotearoa has responded strongly to the challenges of the global pandemic by getting vaccinated and supporting others in our Pacific communities to get their vaccine.

“The people of Tokelau also know only too well how the global currents of uncertainty wrought by climate change erode physical and spiritual wellbeing as they also damage the land and natural environment.

“So, it’s appropriate that for this year’s Tokelau Language Week, the Tokelau community has chosen ‘Tokelau! Tapui tau gagana ma tau aganuku, i te manaola ma te lautupuola’ which means ‘Tokelau! Preserve your language and culture, to enhance spiritual and physical wellbeing,” said Aupito William Sio.

‘Tapui’ emphasises the need to care for and nurture the Tokelau Language and culture to ensure its growth and prosperity.

“They have also embraced, for the second year running, the opportunities presented by celebrating Te Gagana o Tokelau – the Tokelau language – online, in order to keep people safe from Covid 19. .

“There’s a traditional saying in Tokelau culture, ‘ko na alofivae e hē mātutu’, that means in English  ‘the soles of our feet are never dry’ – our work is never done, we must keep persevering.

“I know this spirit of resilience, embodied in the Kanava wood so beloved of Tokelau’s carvers, will ensure that the language and culture of Tokelau are preserved, raising the spiritual and physical wellbeing of our Tokelau people, be they here in Aotearoa or back on the beautiful atolls of Tokelau.”

Tokelau’s three coral atolls, Atafu, Fakaofo and Nukunonu, cover a total land area of just 12 square kilometres..

The most recent census records 8,676 Tokelauans living in Aotearoa, almost half of those in the Whanganui-a-Tara region. This year marks 73 years since Tokelau became part of the New Zealand realm.

“Take the time this year to join Tokelauans across the motu in celebrating Tokelau Language Week with a variety of online activities. Even learning a greeting or two can be the window into Tokelau’s cultural traditions, as well as a chance to meet new people, with fresh perspectives,” said Aupito William Sio.

Tokelau Language Week has been celebrated since 2012 as part of the Ministry for Pacific Peoples’ Pacific Language Weeks programme and is the ninth and final language week to be celebrated this year.

The Language Week runs from 4 pm on Sunday 24 October to Saturday 30 October 2021 and is being launched online by Mafutaga Tokelau I Manawatu via the official Tokelau Language Week 2021


Further information and language resources on Tokelau Language Week


PASEFIKA PROUD – Pathways for Change 2019-2023 

Protective factors for Pacific families 
The things that make families strong, resilient, safe and able to bounce back from adversity are known as protective factors. Some of the protective factors identified for Pacific Peoples are: 

  • supportive, caring family members and healthy relationships between all generations 
  • ability to talanoa (talk) and communicate positively and effectively without fear of response – language providing stability to wellbeing 
  • gender equity and equality, including flexible and equal beliefs 
  • positive sense of self, secure cultural identity 
  • clear information about family violence and the law 
  • active participation in cultural, social and faith communities 
  • employment, financial security, positive education experiences, safe and affordable housing, access to health and social services. 

The Pasefika Proud values of love, family, collective, respect, spirituality and reciprocity align with, and help to build these protective factors 

Read more about Pasefika Proud Pathways for Change 2019-2023