Nga Haerenga o Le Laumei: Pathways to cultural protection through language preservation

Tanya Koro, Nikki Walden, Tristan Smith, Adrienne Dewar, Kaylum Muller, Advent Ndeke, Lena Kenny, Helen Simmons


The above group of ethnically diverse, third-year community development students from Massey University, Aotearoa New Zealand connected through a shared interest in the wellbeing of Maori and Pasifika peoples in Oceania. They identified the critical importance of preserving indigenous languages as a vehicle for maintaining cultural heritage and linguistic rights. Diasporic Pacific populations experience vulnerability in maintaining cultural heri- tage. One of the fundamental elements in retaining cultural heritage is the preservation of indigenous languages. This paper was presented at the Social Policy, Social Welfare Systems and Human Security in the Pacific Conference held at the University of South Pacific, 5th- 7th October 2010. It explores a structural analysis and ‘development from below’ process which identified a unifying metaphor as a powerful tool to assist social change around the preservation of indigenous languages. Rather than employing a hegemonic view on the sta- tus of indigenous languages, this paper offers solutions from a Pasifika perspective formed within a post-modern New Zealand context. This framework and the process that the students undertook offer a valuable contribution to social and cultural protection and human security policy development as it pertains to language preservation within Oceania. Other social change groups may find this process and the tool/metaphor useful for their work.

Ko toku reo, toku ohooho
Ko toku reo, toku mapihi maurea.
My language is my awakening
My language is the window to my soul. 


community development; indigenous languages; māori; pasifika; oceania; language preservation;

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