Language week to highlight Tuvalu's plight
A serious message about the very survival of their identify accompanies the first-ever Tuvalu Language Week.
A serious message about the very survival of their identity accompanies the first-ever Tuvalu language week which begins today.
The week is being promoted by Tuvaluans in New Zealand to urge the rest of the world to do more to combat global warming as Tuvalu is in danger of becoming one of the first nations to be washed away by rising sea water levels.
The Labour Party's Pacific Island Affairs spokesperson Su'a William Sio moved a motion in the New Zealand parliament last week, acknowledging the language week. Bridget Tunnicliffe spoke to her.
He told Bridget Tunnicliffe Tuvaluans fear that when their island home disappears it will then follow that they will also lose their culture, language and identity.
SU'A WILLIAM SIO: It is about Tuvalu's very survival, and the local communities living in in New Zealand really to highlight that and to shine some light upon it. The motion they asked me to move was a call on New Zealand and the rest of the world that they've really got to try and combat global warming.
BRIDGET TUNNICLIFFE: Do you think there is a general lack of awareness among New Zealanders about that situation?
SWS: I think it's hard for people to believe that that's what's happening. And unless you've gone to the Pacific and unless you've seen what's happening with Tuvalu and Kiribati and many of the other atolls, they won't get a sense of that. So for most of us we sort of live in a bubble in New Zealand, and for the majority of the world living in developed nations, they don't realise the impact of what has happened in the Pacific region.
BT: What would Tuvalu like the New Zealand government to do?
SWS: Well, the message I got, which I could not include in the motion, was that they wanted New Zealand to take the lead and do the right thing and reduce its emissions. And they feel that New Zealand can play that leadership role for the rest of the world to follow.
BT: I suppose the fear is if Tuvalu does get washed away by the effect of global warming that it will be very hard to keep the language and the culture alive.
SWS: Oh, absolutely. So that's what the theme was. It is a call for New Zealand and the rest of the world to recognise that Tuvalu is actually fighting for its life, because, by and large, the big industrial countries don't seem to take seriously what is happening in the environment, and a lot of it is man-made. And that's where Tuvaluans and the rest of the Pacific's perspective is.
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