Group celebrates Samoan language

Siva Samoa . . . Sharing a traditional Samoan dance are (from left) Glory Atarangi Maturo Siaosi, 12, Ronael Faalupega, 13, Mercy Faalupega, 12, and Harisona Faalupega, 16. PHOTOS: CONNOR HALEY

Cultures from all across South Canterbury came together last week to celebrate New Zealand’s third most spoken language.

As part of Multicultural Aoraki’s weekly coffee group, a celebration was held to mark Samoa Language Week.

Those in attendance at the event, which was held at the St John lounge and led by Multicultural Aoraki event coordinator Maturo Siaosi, were treated to Samoan food, dances, songs and lessons on basic everyday phrases.

Originally from Samoa himself, Mr Siaosi said it was a very special week for him.

‘‘When I first arrived we didn’t celebrate all this, but now I have family and my kids so I need to teach them that they have both a Kiwi life and a Samoan life.

‘‘Having stuff like this teaches them to be proud of their other culture, not just one.

‘‘I feel pleased to have another culture in me and it’s great to be able to teach my kids about those cultures.’’

Leading man . . . Maturo Siaosi finishes a Samoan dance with a chee-hoo!

He said it was great to see so many people from all different cultures turn up and take part in the celebration.

‘‘It’s so nice. I think for many of them it would also be their first time seeing this type of thing.

‘‘They’re getting to see and learn dances and songs, the island way.

‘‘My aim is that no matter where you are from, if you can take something from here, that’s really nice.

‘‘It seemed like everyone was smiling and happy, so it was a really successful day.’’

The 2024 theme for Samoa Language Week was ‘Tautua i le alofa, manuia le lumana’i (serve in love for a blessed future).

Mr Siaosi said they usually held their celebration in local schools.

‘‘This year we let schools do their own celebration because a lot of them now have Pasifika kids in them so they are learning to celebrate on their own.’’

He said he hoped everyone took away just one thing from the celebration.

Getting involved . . . Mr Siaosi teaches those in attendance some traditional Samoan dances.

‘‘If someone can take that one word like ‘talofa’ away, that’s great.

‘‘It’s just about taking small things, I don’t want to teach to much and have their brain try remember everything and then forget it all.

‘‘It’s really difficult to learn another language but if they can take one small speaking word or a dance, like rubbing the lotion, that’s the important thing.’’

The weekly coffee groups were great for new people coming to Timaru, he said.

‘‘We try to celebrate anything that is coming up. ‘‘Next week is nothing, so I’ll try and find something for the coffee group.

‘‘A lot of the people are new to Timaru and they don’t know what’s happening so I bring people here as a way to connect people who may be isolated so they can make friends and build confidence.

‘‘Every year we are happy to celebrate language weeks and not just Samoan, there are a few more coming up so we try our best to celebrate them all and be part of that as well.’’