Kiribati communities in New Zealand are preparing to honor and celebrate the Tungaru language this week as Wikin te Taetae ni Kiribati – Kiribati Language Week 2023 kicks off.
Celebrating Culture, Identity, and Language
Barbara Edmonds, a spokesperson for the event, highlighted the significance of the Language Week Series as an opportunity for all i-Kiribati people to celebrate their culture, identity, and language. She emphasized that this year’s theme,
“Ribanan, karikirakean ao kateimatoan ara katei ma ara taetae ni Tungaru,” translates to “Nurture, enhance, and sustain the Tungaru language and culture.”
Tungaru Language and Culture: A Cornerstone of Identity and Well-being
The Tungaru language, given to the people of Kiribati by their ancestors, plays a pivotal role in their identity and well-being. It serves as a cultural anchor, connecting generations and communities.
Recognizing its significance, Kiribati groups across the country are actively working to increase language proficiency and emphasize the importance of preserving their language and culture for future generations.
Promoting Bilingualism and Multilingualism in Pacific Communities
Among the 3,225 i-Kiribati residing in New Zealand, approximately 50 percent are proficient in the Tungaru language.
Moreover, 20 percent of those born in New Zealand can speak the language, and an impressive 24 percent of individuals under the age of 15 are fluent in Tungaru.
Efforts are underway to further increase these numbers, emphasizing the importance of sustaining language and culture for the next generation.
Investing in Pacific Languages Strategy for a Brighter Future
The 2022 Pacific Languages Strategy outlines the benefits of investing in and growing Pacific bilingual and multilingual speakers in New Zealand.
These efforts will contribute to improved educational outcomes, enhanced employment and earning opportunities, strengthened cultural connections, improved well-being, and a greater sense of confidence and identity among Pacific peoples.
To support these initiatives, Budget 2023 has allocated $13.3 million to advance the strategy and promote language learning within communities.
Celebrating Kiribati Language Week
Throughout Kiribati Language Week, Kiribati groups will host a variety of in-person and online events focused on learning the Tungaru language through cultural practices, storytelling, crafts, dance, and music.
One of the highlights of the week will be the celebrations for Kiribati Independence Day on July 12.
Embracing Our Pacific Neighbors
Barbara Edmonds encouraged all New Zealanders to support Kiribati Language Week and learn something new about their Pacific neighbors.
She highlighted common Kiribati greetings such as Mauri (welcome), Ko rabwa (thank you), and Ti a bo (goodbye) as examples of the cultural richness awaiting discovery.
Dates and Resources
Kiribati Language Week will run from July 9 to 15. Additional information and resources can be found on the Ministry for Pacific Peoples website.