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Kiribati Language Week


Kiribati Language Week is being held from Sunday 9 July to Saturday 15 July 2023.

This resource page has some ideas for how you can get involved.

About Kiribati Language Week

Fanning Island, Kiribati

Kiribati Language Week is organised by the Ministry for Pacific Peoples to maintain and promote the language and culture of Kiribati (pronounced KiriBASS). The Kiribati language is also known as Gilbertese. 

Kiribati is a republic made up of 32 coral atolls and one raised coral island in the central Pacific Ocean. It is home to around 116 000 people and also the South Pacific's largest marine reserve. There are 3225 people living in New Zealand who belong to the Kiribati ethnic group (2018 Census).

Kiribati Language Week is an opportunity for all New Zealanders to celebrate the identity, language and culture of people from Kiribati. 

Curriculum connections

NZC Curriculum icon.

Kiribati Language Week supports the curriculum principles of cultural diversity and inclusion, and provides an opportunity for students to explore the values of diversity and respect. Students who learn about the language and culture of Kiribati can make use of key competencies and achieve learning outcomes described in the learning languages learning area.

How can you get involved?

Discussion starters 
Use the following questions as discussion starters with your class – "Why is it important for all New Zealanders to celebrate and learn the language and culture of Kiribati?" "What benefits will this bring to Kiribati New Zealanders?" This interview explains the establishment of the first Kiribati language unit in New Zealand and can be used as a springboard for discussions.  

Learn some simple words and phrases
Words and phrases that you could try:

  • Mauri: Hello and welcome
  • Ti a boo: Goodbye 
  • Ko raba: Thank you
  • Ko uara? How are you?
  • Ko raba, I marurung: Thank you I am fine.

Beginner Kiribati is an App that you can use to learn simple vocabulary.  

Explore the arts of Kiribati
Explore traditional and contemporary artworks and artefacts from Kiribati and discuss how they contribute to the culture and heritage of Kiribati. This YouTube video features a Kiribati artefact exhibition from the 2018 Kiribati Language Week. This video from Tagata Pasifika describes the works of a contemporary artist from Kiribati. 

Learn about armour worn by warriors in Kiribati
Watch this video from Tales from Te Papa to learn about traditional warrior armour in Kiribati. Artefacts include a puffer fish helmet, a stingray belt, and long johns made from coconut fibre. Discuss the way that the people of Kiribati used natural resources in innovative ways to construct their armour. Compare the helmet and garments worn in Kiribati with armour worn in other cultures. What is similar and what is different?  

Understand the impact of climate change on Kiribati
Kiribati is low-lying and is extremely vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Share this journal article and video to learn more about climate change and its impact. What are the challenges that the people of Kiribati face? What action can we take in Aotearoa to assist in the fight against climate change? 

Useful resources

Ministry for Pacific Peoples – Pacific Language Weeks
This webpage provides information about Pacific Language Weeks and is updated with relevant resources and events. 

The Coconet
This selection of articles and videos provides information about life in Kiribati. 

Inclusive Education Guides for Schools – Supporting Pacific learners
This guide focuses on inclusive teaching and learning strategies that can be used in the classroom to create a more effective learning environment for all Pasifika students.

Published on: 11 May 2020