Aotea College’s strong links with Samoan culture were laid bare last week, with guests treated to speeches and dances on Wednesday – one of a number of local schools that held events associated to Samoan Independence Day and Samoan Language Week.
Principal Tim Davies-Colley said these occasions were more than just a chance to celebrate that nation’s language, it was an opportunity to honour the people and the diverse Porirua and Aotea College communities.
‘‘ Language conveys not just words, but culture and meaning. This is a fantastic day for everyone to enjoy.’’
Race relations commissioner Joris de Bres, meanwhile, said he always looked forward to the invite from Aotea College for their Samoan celebrations. He had some statistics to share – there are just over 600,000 Samoans around the world, with 220,000 of these in Samoa and 131,000 in New Zealand.
‘‘More and more live outside Samoa, so it is so important your language is practised. If you teach your children and they teach their children . . . then Samoan will be spoken in the 22nd Century.
‘‘What we are doing here, now, is so important so the language and culture will be passed on through the generations.’’
The hour-long event included performances from dancing groups to speeches from students fluent in Samoan.
Mana MP Kris Faafoi, of Tokelau descent, said he was an example of why events such as this were important, as someone who needed more work on their Pacific Island language skills and delivery.
‘‘We should be proud of what we have got from the islands, not just in sport, but we have Samoan judges, journalists and doctors.’’
Touching speech: Gloria Vailepa had the audience spellbound with her speech, which she delivered without notes. It eventually reduced her to tears.