11 Oct 2012

Pacific communities in NZ keen to set up school to revive languages

11:39 am on 11 October 2012

Three Pacific communities in Auckland, New Zealand want to set up a charter school to help revive their languages.

Cook Islands Maori, Niuean and Tokelauan are all on the most endangered languages list in New Zealand.

Representatives from the three communities are putting together a joint bid for a primary school in south Auckland that would teach in the three languages and some English.

One of the Niuean members, Mele Nemaia, says her language is now classed as dying and charter schools are a chance to save it.

She says it's urgent because most of the 20-thousand New Zealanders of Niuean descent don't speak the language, and there are fewer than 15-hundred people on Niue itself.

"And I don't think that's enough to actually guarantee that our language will continue on. So it's very important, very vital to us to maintain, retain and to use our language in this country."

Mele Nemaia says teaching in Niuean, Tokelauan and Cook Islands Maori would also help the students to do better academically.