What is our way forward for Pacific langauge education in New Zealand?
From the evidence the community submitted to the Parliamentary inquiry into Pacific bilingual language education in early childhood education, I summed it up as follows (in no particular order) :-
a. Government should reinstate and continue funding of literature resources that it paused back in 2009;
b. That Pacific bilin...gual langauge education is strongly valued by Pacific parents/community;
c. Pacific language education has significant benefits to children's wellbeing and academic foundation - this is backed by local and international evidence;
d. It is the right of every child to learn and speak in their heritage language;
e. New Zealand should have a National Languages Policy;
f. New Zealand should have a Pacific Languages Policy;
g. New Zealand should formally recognise the Pacific languages of its realm, namely Cook Islands, Vakahau Niue, and Tokelau, and the languages of Samoa and Tonga because of its special relationships,
In response, someone from Melanesia, responded with this (Enlarged and in bold for your reading pleasure because it is very very important):
Adi E. Samanunu Waqanivalu
"Good thoughts however due to NZ historical links with Polynesia group of islands & their dominance in NZ on all Pacific Policies, then it perhaps needs to be called Polynesian Language rather than Pacific as there are others that make up the Pacific who are not Polynesian"
Now, this is something we need to consider in New Zealand today,....Pasifika is the domain of the majority, which is: Tonga and Samoa (and Cooks, Tokelau, Niue).
Melanesian countries remain hidden/excluded and it makes me laugh at the irony of all this....we as "Pasifika" are crying out for equality and yet, even among us, we are not being equal and acknowledging ALL people of the Oceania.
There is a Pasifika collaborative group I belong to, which is very much representative of so called "Pacific in NZ". The leaders are Samoan, except one Tongan and a half Niuean. ZERO Melanesian.
But when we face the public as a collaboration, I am suddenly aware of this over-representation and I feel inclined to omit my Polynesianness.
My point is, if we want to foray into the future in one canoe, we first need to know who are as a collective:
We are Oceania.
This means Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Tuvalu, Kiribati, Nauru, Marshall Islands, Palau, FSM, Northern Marianas and all the other islands that dot this vast Ocean.
Not just Polynesia.
Goddess of the Collaborative Oceania