Tuvalu Language Week

Yesterday was the beginning of Tuvalu Language Week the fourth Pacific language week of 2013. the week runs until Sunday October 6 with “Tuvalu tau gana ko tou lagaifakalaga Tuvalu, your language keeps your culture and identity afloat”as the central theme. 

Part of the Marshall Islands, located half way between Hawaii and Australia, Tuvalu is the fourth smallest country in the world. Tuvalu is made up of nine islands with an average elevation of 2m above sea level.

It is now without question that Tuvalu will be the first country in the world to ‘sink’- becoming totally uninhabitable due to rising sea levels caused by climate change. Already traditional food sources are dying, crops are drowning and fishing is becoming increasingly difficult as the local reefs suffer. Tuvaluan’s are now finding it easier to purchase tinned fish than to catch it locally.

The king tides in Tuvalu | Photo Credit: Florent Baarsch All Rights Reserved

The king tides in Tuvalu | Photo Credit: Florent Baarsch All Rights Reserved

New Zealand has been called upon to reduce it’s carbon emissions by even more than is currently being proposed. John Key in particular has been asked to take leadership in this issue. His response has been that New Zealand is responsible for very little of the worlds emissions, potential economic loss that may be caused by attempting to reduce emissions caused by farming (the primary cause of emissions from NZ) would outweigh any benefits and it is too late to reverse the fate of the islands.

Labour Party’s Pacific Island Affairs spokesperson Su’a William Sio spoke to National Radio’s Bridget Tunnicliffe on the weekend about Tuvalu Language Week saying

“It is about Tuvalu’s very survival, and the local communities living in in New Zealand… I think it’s hard for people to believe that that’s what’s happening…unless you’ve gone to the Pacific and unless you’ve seen what’s happening with Tuvalu and Kiribati… for most of us we sort of live in a bubble in New Zealand, and for the majority of the world living in developed nations, they don’t realise the impact of what has happened in the Pacific region… It is a call for New Zealand and the rest of the world to recognise that Tuvalu is actually fighting for its life, because, by and large, the big industrial countries don’t seem to take seriously what is happening in the environment, and a lot of it is man-made. And that’s where Tuvaluans and the rest of the Pacific’s perspective is.”

Woman on Funafuti, 1900,  Harold Clifford Fassett (Funafati is the main island of Tuvalu)

Woman on Funafuti (in traditional costume), 1900, Harold Clifford Fassett (Funafati is the main island of Tuvalu)

As many of the people look to relocate concerns are being raised not only about the loss of the Tuvaluan land but of the impact on Tuvaluan culture making the implications of Tuvaluan Language Week very significant indeed.

You can read more about Tuvalu and the Pacific Islands Forum here…