05 September 2017
On the evening of Sunday 3rd September, the Riccarton High School Hall was buzzing with excitement as Tongan congregations from various churches across Otautahi gathered to celebrate what was not only Father’s Day but also the first day of Tongan Language Week in Aotearoa for 2017.
This special event, an evening service, was hosted by the Christchurch Tongan Youth Council to serve as the official opening of Tongan Language Week in Canterbury and was proudly supported by Pasifika Futures.
The Christchurch Tongan Youth Council was established in August last year to advocate for Tongan youth living in Christchurch and work through creating and implementing youth programmes that support and guide the aspirations of Tongan youth.
“Ke Fakakoloa Aotearoa ‘aki e Nofo ‘a Kainga” the 2017 Tongan Language week theme, which translates in English to “Enriching Aotearoa with our family values” was reflected and shown through various items and performances on the night put together by Tongan youth participants from nine different Canterbury churches.
“We wanted to provide learning opportunities for our young people so that they can continue learning and keeping our language alive. It is so important for our Tongan culture.” Comments Paea Fifita, the Christchurch Tongan Youth Council Chair.
“We also wanted to provide an opportunity for them to help build each other’s confidence and self-esteem so that they can fully participate in the life of their families, church, community and this country – hence the theme Nofo a Kainga.”
The event hit a soft spot for Eseta Finau, Pasifika Futures Community Engagement Manager, who was present at the event saying “I was overwhelmed with joy to see these young people standing strong and proud for their culture and language. It was quite emotional to hear some of the kids speak from the heart and identify with their Tongan roots.”
“It was wonderful to see the youth come together and present what was special to them.” Says Mrs. Finau.
The lively participation of the youth, all incorporating their Tongan language and culture into speaking, song, dance and rap items, provided a colourful array of entertainment on the night with one of the highlights being the combined youth item in which all youth groups participated, demonstrating the hard work, respect and knowledge put into the night.
Pasifika Futures is proud to support such an event which enriches the cultural and community value of our Pacific youth.
“We believe it is important for young Pacific people to have an environment in which they can learn and flourish as our future leaders, while also developing a strong cultural backbone and sense of identity. I would like to acknowledge the Christchurch Tongan Youth Council’s work and event as an opportunity for Pacific youth to come together to celebrate Tongan Language Week, strengthening the importance of our cultural values. We wish the Christchurch Tongan Youth Council every success in accomplishing future endeavours.” Comments Pasifika Futures CEO, Debbie Sorensen.