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Call for official recognition for Pacific languages in NZ

posted Feb 4, 2012, 3:04 PM by NZEA web2

Luamanuvao Winne Laban has called for the Tokelauan, Niuean and Cook Islands languages to be accorded official status in New Zealand (31-01-2012). Ms Laban is an Associate Professor at Victoria University; she was previously a Labour Party MP.

"New Zealand has the responsibility of ensuring that the languages of the realm and our near neighbours are preserved."

"The people of Tokelau, Niue and the Cook Islands are New Zealand citizens and New Zealand has constitutional responsibilities."

"Perhaps it is time for the development of a language policy to protect, maintain and rejuvenate Pacific languages spoken in New Zealand," Ms Laban said.

Race relations conciliator Joris de Bres said Tokelau, Niue and the Cook Islands remained a part of the "New Zealand realm".

All had a majority of their population living in New Zealand and language retention in New Zealand was vital to the survival of their languages.

Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Maori (Maori Language Commission) chief executive Glenis Philip-Barbara has voiced support for Pacific languages to be officially recognised in New Zealand.

Chris Laidlaw discussed this matter on his Sunday programme with Professor Paul Warren on 5 February 2012. This interview is available for listening to.

The Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs is developing a Pacific Languages Framework (PLF), and are working towards submitting a final Framework to Cabinet this year. In support of the use of Pacific languages in the home and community, the Ministry has developed a 

series of language resources in partnership with Niuean, Tokelauan and Cook Islands communities.

The Human Rights Commission as a detailed report called Language Policy and Practice in New Zealand which summarises many programmes and initiatives, including some that relate to Pacific languages.