Laban seeks official status for Pacific languages in NZ
A Victoria University lecturer has called for Pacific Island languages to be made official languages of New Zealand.
Winnie Laban, the former Labour Minister of Pacific Island Affairs, questions why the native languages of the Niue, Tokelau and Cook Islands should not be given equal status along with English, Maori, and New Zealand Sign Language.
English and Cook Islands Maori are the main languages spoken in the Cook Islands, along with Polynesian languages Rakahanga-Manihiki and Pukapukan. Nieuan and English are spoken in Niue, with Tokelauan and English spoken in Tokelau. Around 7% of the collective islands’ populations live in New Zealand.
Laban stated that “New Zealand has the responsibility of ensuring that the languages of the realm and our near neighbours are preserved. “The people of Tokelau, Niue and the Cook Islands are New Zealand citizens and New Zealand has constitutional responsibilities. “After English, Samoan is the most daily spoken language in New Zealand. Why are these languages not ‘official’ in New Zealand?”
New Zealand currently does not have a Pacific language policy.