Ko na mauri! With Kiribati at the frontline of the climate crisis in the South Pacific it is even more vital than ever that we celebrate Kiribati Language Week – Wikin te Taetae ni Kiribati!

The small low-lying Island nation, which is home to around 116,300 people is under threat from rising sea levels, and says the Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito William Sio language is crucial to keeping its people rooted to their land and tradition in the coming crisis.

“Despite the enormous challenges Kiribati faces as a nation, their language and cultural identity will keep them grounded, and proud of their heritage,” said Mr Sio who launched the week on Sunday.

“This is truly evident in the vibrant Kiribati community living here in Aotearoa, and how they celebrate Kiribati Language Week.”

This year’s theme is Maubonian te teei i nanon te mwenga bon karekean te maiuraoi, te ongotaeka ao te tangira, which means the home is where we nurture our children towards a healthy, responsible, loving, and prosperous future.

The theme acknowledges the important role of the Kiribati mothers, both within their families and the wider community. It also reflects the overarching 2021 Pacific Language Week theme of Wellbeing, by linking the importance of language to overall wellbeing.

In 2020, the Ministry for Pacific Peoples (MPP) launched the first official Kiribati Language Week, as part of the Pacific Language Weeks’ series.

This year, MPP worked alongside the Kiribati Language Week Steering Committee Membership to plan the 2021 Kiribati Language Week and implement the changes to support the Pacific Language Weeks Refresh in 2022.

“This Ministry has been working alongside the Kiribati Language Week Steering Committee Membership to organise events and activities throughout the week, which is based on the theme,” said Mr Sio.

Some activities and key events for Kiribati Language Week will also be available on the official NZ Kiribati Language Week Facebook page so more people can learn, embrace and celebrate Wikin te Taetae ni Kiribati.