Mālō e lelei! It is Uike Kātoanga’i ‘o e Lea Faka-Tonga – Tongan Language Week. Here Dr Sione Vaka, Senior Lecturer at the School of Clinical Sciences at AUT talks about his role in preserving the Tongan language and culture.
Dr Vaka is a Senior Lecturer at the School of Clinical Sciences at AUT and also the President for the Longolongo Youth Club which is a group of Tongan that meet regularly in Onehunga. The Tongan youth that attend the Club preserve their Tongan culture through discussing Tongan customs, beliefs, knowledge, procedures, protocols, morals, identity, arts, music, and other important factors that are central to being a Tongan here in Aotearoa New Zealand.
Language is an important factor in this process as Tongan language contributes significantly to Tongan culture. Club secretary, Movete ‘Oto’ota, highlighted that the, “Tongan language holds our Tongan values and ways of doing things, it reflects in how we live in our Tongan society; language we use to our sisters, parents, nobles, royals, and so forth”.
One of the young Club members, 19 year old Metai ‘Ofanoa, said, “Tongan language is personally important to me because it’s a way of communicating with family and friends. People of Tonga pass stories, culture, and traditions through language; our youth today are losing our Tongan language. We need to learn our language to preserve our culture in Aotearoa New Zealand”. Longolongo Youth Club meets every Saturday and they welcome anyone who wants to learn Tongan language and culture.
Dr Vaka and Metai ‘Ofanoa learning about Tongan music
Longolongo Youth Club members learning about Tongan culture
If you are interested in finding out more information about Longolongo Youth Club please contact Dr Sione Vaka at:
Mālō ‘aupito, Ofa keke ma’u ha uike lea Faka-Tonga fiefia