For Dr Monica Nua-George, it’s a proverb from her homeland of Niue that inspires her at work and home.
“Fakataufata e mafiti he gutu mo e gahua he tau lima” which translates in English to “When you speak with authority, make sure you follow through with actions.”
“For me, this proverb applies to my everyday life as a doctor, a wife and a mother.”
Dr Nua-George, who is the clinical director at Etu Pasifika in Christchurch, moved to New Zealand from Niue when she was five years old.
She says it was fortunate that her parents retained the language and spoke Niuean in the home so she could grow up immersed in her culture and traditions.
“We maintained it in the home by being around our elders, going to church and saying our prayers in our language.”
Unfortunately, Dr Nua-George says the Niuean language is not spoken as much today and she fears that it could be at threat.
She says celebrating Niuean Language Week throughout the country, is the perfect time to remind people of its value and why it is important the community practice Niuean cultural traditions.
“Having Niuean language week is a great platform to promote the language. It helps to identify us and reminds us that we should use it and invest resources to help the language thrive,”
Dr Nua-George has two young sons that she speaks Niuean to in her home and she encourages all families to speak the language – despite their level of competency.
“It’s about going back to the basics of our culture and language – using simple everyday words that we can speak to our children.”
She not only encourages speaking the language here in New Zealand but also retaining the traditions from Niue – like the hair cutting ceremony for young men.
“We had a haircutting ceremony for my son to continue our traditions.
I’ve had brothers who had their haircutting ceremonies. This was something that I wanted for my own sons to continue as a way of keeping them connected to our culture.”
Date: Tuesday 22 October 2020