The Pasifika language weeks in New Zealand are important for breaking down societal intolerance of Pasifika and Maori language as well as other minority ethnic languages, an academic says.
Speaking during Fijian Language Week in New Zealand, the director of Samoan and Pacific Studies at Victoria University, Teresia Teaiwa, said while New Zealand was way ahead of many western countries in recognising Maori and Pasifika peoples there were still high levels of intolerance of those languages.
She said this was particularly evident in the mangling of Maori and Pacific Island names by media professionals across the country.
"That is an intolerance, it is an arrogance that says 'I do not need to learn'. And the bottom line is if you are real professional, you will try to get someone's name right. And if we do that for Europeans, why can't we extend the same courtesy to people who are of other heritages."
According to The New Zealand Ministry for Pacific Peoples, which works closely with Pacific communities to maintain and promote heritage languages, Pacific Language Weeks have grown significantly since Samoan Language Week was first celebrated in 2007.
Meanwhile, Dr Teaiwa, the director of Va'aomanu Pasifika, said there was a need for more research on Fiji to be carried out using Fijian language sources.
She said there was a great need for young Fijian academics to embark on research projects that tackled historical and contemporary Fijian issues in Fijian languages.
"Because a lot of the time when people have developed scholarly expertise on Fiji, they have been very reliant on English on English sources and English texts. And that cuts out a whole multiplicity of sources that give you different perspectives on what has happened in the past and what is happening now in Fiji."
Dr Teaiwa, who is from Kiribati but grew up in Fiji, said this was also true for many other Pacific countries.
She said having more research carried out using Pasifika sources would also strengthen and protect Pasifika language and culture.
The seven Pacific Language Weeks celebrated in New Zealand in 2016:
- Samoa - Sunday 29 May - Saturday 4 June 2016
- Cook Islands - Sunday 31 July - Saturday 6 August 2016
- Tonga - Sunday 4 September - Saturday 10 September 2016
- Tuvalu - Sunday 25 September - Saturday 1 October 2016
- Fiji - Monday 3 October - Sunday 9 October 2016
- Niue - Sunday 16 October - Saturday 22 October 2016
- Tokelau - Sunday 23 October - Saturday 29 October 2016