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Niuean trust turns to youth to keep threatened culture alive

Niuean trust-muller 425wide

Members of the Niuean youth network …tapping into culture. Image: NYN

Pacific Scoop:
Report  – By Mabel Muller

A Niuean trust’s efforts to keep its threatened culture alive will now invest in a new youth network.

The Niuean Youth Network held its first fono two weeks ago in Mt Wellington, to gather and plan ways to entice young Niuean people to connect to their roots.

Statistics show that in 2011, just over 1500 Niueans were living in Niue, while more than 20,000 were living in New Zealand as of 2013.

A member of the network’s committee, Blake Wong-Ling, said the group was trying to promote and bring awareness to the Niuean language through several initiatives.

“Even if it was the use of one Niuean word each day, that’s a really good advancement for someone. Or just to feel confident enough to come out, to be Niuean,” said Wong-Ling.

The network falls under the authority of the Vagahau Niue Trust, a group developed by mamatuas (early New Zealand settlers from Niue), and was recently established to preserve the Niuean culture and language.

Chairperson of the Vagahau Niue Trust Mele Nemaia, said being organised and led by youth, for the youth, was what made the network special.

‘Hungry for culture’
“They’re hungry for their language, they’re hungry for their culture, they’re just hungry to be Niueans.”

The aim of the network is to provide a platform for young people to tap into their Niuean culture and learn more about their ethnic identity.

“I can see that these young people can take us forward but we need to nurture them. We need to look after them,” said Nemaia.

“We need to pass on some of the knowledge and wisdom that we have. We need to feed that through.”

Wong-Ling said the network is also designed to get as many people who identify themselves as both Niuean and youth, to participate by contributing any skills that could be an asset to them.

“We’re accountable to the youth as much as they’re accountable to the network”, said Wong-Ling.

“We saw a lot of people with a specific skill set, that we may require.”

Niuean roots
New Samoan, Māori and Niuean youth member Matt Apulu said his Samoan side has dominated his ethnic identity but he hopes the network will help him to grow in his Niuean roots.

“It was good for a plastic Niuean like me to be part of a programme that’s trying to bring the culture alive.”

The network is hoping to extend future fonos out to Wellington and Christchurch and Nemaia is certain it will be successful, if not in her lifetime, definitely in years to come.

“They are our future leaders.”

Mabel Muller is a final year student journalist at AUT University.

3 comments:

  1. Matthew Apulu, 20. May 2015, 23:00

    Awesome work Mabel!

     
  2. Hank Head, 21. May 2015, 19:15

    Immerse in the your culture is the best way to get a foothold in what has been described by some of the elders as, “kua aloalo mai e vagahau Niue”. Take a couple of weeks in Niue would be a good start where everything is NIUE! Eat, drink, talk, hunting, fishing, sports Church and so forth!! But the initiative lead by the youth is heading in the right direction and should be commended and encouraged, good luck.

     
  3. Blake Wong Ling, 21. May 2015, 20:42

    Shot Mabel! Malo au pito mo ngaue lelei! Tu’a ‘Ofa atu!