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Kiribati Language Week encourages youth to speak the language at home

11 July 2018

Posted in: Pacific Radio News,

By Io Aleke Fa'avae -

Kiribati communities around New Zealand are celebrating its language week with cultural activities and sports events.

This week's theme is 'Kabongana ara taetae ni I-Kiribati i nanon mweengara' or 'Let's embrace our Kiribati language, speak it at home'.

Kiribati communities are celebrating their language this week. Photo/ PMN.

Founding member of the New Zealand Kiribati National Council, Charles Enoka Kiata, says making the language a norm at home is exactly what they're hoping to achieve.

"It is important for us as parents and a community to remind ourselves that we have a duty to keep our language and culture alive and to encourage it to be spoken at home."

According to the 2013 Census, only 2,115 people of Kiribati descent live in New Zealand, with a majority in Auckand, followed by the Waikato region and Wellington.

Just over half of the population can hold a conversation in the language.

Kiata says the Kiribati youth is growing fast in New Zealand but it's alarming that many are opting to speak English.

"I'm so sad that a lot of our young people are speaking English as their first language," he says.

"The message to our youth is 'Let's embrace our language, let's speak it at home'."

The language week coincides with Kiribati's 39th Independence Day on July 12.

Tags: Kiribati,