Prominent Niuean Dr Colin Tukuitoga has proposed that Vagahau Niue be offered at a university level in New Zealand as one of the measures to sustain the Niuean language.
There are more than 20,000 Niueans living in New Zealand.
Currently, Vagahau Niue is offered as a course at the University of the South Pacific at a certificate and diploma level.
Dr Tukitonga who is a Founding Member of the Niue Arts and Culture Festival and Pacific Language Weeks in New Zealand led the vagahau Niue conference at the Millennium Hall this morning.
In his opening remarks he said that the United Nations has marked 2019 as the year of indigenous languages and this conference is one way all stakeholders of the vagahau can get together and find better alternatives to protecting and to ensure the sustainability of the vagahau Niue.
At the moment, he said there seems to be a disconnect between what the disapora of Niueans are doing overseas and what is happening on Niue.
His hope is that at this meeting, they will put all their ideas and revitalize or refresh the efforts going forward to ensure the language is not only taught at the Early childhood or beginners level but to expand these opportunities at the university level in New Zealand.
The conference was opened by the children of the early childhood school with their chants and singing.
The vagahau conference is attended by teachers of vagahau Niue from New Zealand and local teachers amongst other stakeholders who filled out the millennium hall for this one day meeting.
In an earlier interview with BCN News, Niue’s Director for Education Birtha Togahai said “There is a danger in our language moving towards the endangered stage and with our population we do not have the numbers to sustain the vagahau.”
Togahai said they are encouraging Niueans abroad not just in New Zealand but also in Australia to learn and pass on the vagahau.
As part of efforts to sustain the language, the department is raising awareness and has helped facilitate programmes in the two schools Niue primary and secondary, targeting not just the vagahau but also the crafts and performing arts.