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Tuvalu Language Week – Vaiaso o te 'Gana Tuvalu

Fakatalofa atu!

Vaiaso o te 'Gana Tuvalu/Tuvalu Language Week is being held from Sunday 1 October to Saturday 7 October 2023. 

About Tuvalu Language Week

Beach and ocean in Tuvalu.

Tuvalu is a small Pacific island nation that lies midway between Australia and Hawaii. “Tuvalu” means eight islands although there are actually nine inhabited islands. 

Tuvaluan people are the seventh largest Pacific ethnic group in New Zealand, making up one percent of New Zealand's Pacific population. In the 2018 New Zealand census 4653 people identified as being part of the Tuvaluan ethnic group.

Tuvalu Language Week is organised by the Ministry for Pacific Peoples to maintain and promote the language and culture of Tuvalu, helping all New Zealanders journey towards shared cultural understandings. Schools can celebrate the identity, language, and culture of students from Tuvalu supporting this group of learners to engage and achieve success.  

Curriculum connections

NZC Curriculum icon.

Tuvalu 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 Tuvalu can make use of key competencies and achieve learning outcomes described in the learning languages learning area.

How can you get involved?

Some ideas for classroom programmes or school-wide activities:

Child learning song from Tuvalu.

Make connections to your community
There is a chance that you will have some speakers of Tuvaluan in your school community. Encourage those students and their families to be experts during Tuvalu Language Week and validate their expertise in front of other students. Support them to teach Tuvaluan and prepare the Tuvalu Language Week celebrations for the school, placing an emphasis on shared language experiences.

Discussion starters 
Use the following questions as discussion starters with your class – "Why is it important for all New Zealanders to celebrate and learn Tuvaluan?" "What benefits will this bring to New Zealanders of Tuvaluan descent?" This 2016 video could be used to explore how Tuvaluan New Zealanders are working together to protect their language and culture.  

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

  • Talofa: Hello 
  • Tofa: Goodbye
  • Fakafetai: Thank you 
  • Sipi kana: Awesome
  • Manuia te aso : Have a good day

Counting in Tuvaluan
You could use the Tuvalu number system to teach place value. 

Word icon. Counting in Tuvaluan (Word, 77 KB)

Tuvalu National Anthem
Learn and sing the Tuvalu National Anthem.

Play the game Te Ano
Learn how to play Te Ano, the national game of Tuvalu. This team game has been described as a cross between volleyball and murderball.

Useful resources

Tuvalu Language Week resource 
This 2016 resource was developed by members from the Tuvaluan Auckland Community Trust, Taumatuas, and Reverends with contributions from Te Papa Museum and supported by Ministry for Pacific Peoples. It includes information about the culture and language of Tuvalu that you can share with your students. 

Eight things you should know about Tuvalu
Discover interesting facts about Tuvalu in Te Papa’s blog.

Pasifika Education Community
This TKI site has resources, curriculum links, and guidelines for teachers working alongside Pasifika communities.

LEAP is a professional learning resource developed for teachers working in mainstream New Zealand classrooms with bilingual Pasifika students.

Inclusive Education Guides for Schools – Supporting Pasifika students
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.

Have you seen?

Pasifika students.

National events and the New Zealand Curriculum
Would you like to celebrate other Pacific language weeks at your school? Check out our calendar of national events to see what is coming up. 

Updated on: 26 May 2020