Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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O le Aso Ma le Filiga, O le Aso Mata’igatila. A qualitative study looking at Samoan language maintenance within second generation households

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posted on 2021-12-08, 20:31 authored by Paongo-Parsons, Leitumalo

Samoan language within Aotearoa New Zealand has been labelled as “at risk” of becoming an endangered language if language shift continues (Hunkin, 2012; Wilson, 2017). Language shift or language loss is defined as when a speech community gradually stops using one of its two languages in favour of the other, in this case English (Ravindrantha, 2009). The Samoan population is the largest community of the Pacific diaspora living in Aotearoa New Zealand. However, the use and maintenance of the Samoan language is rapidly declining. Although community-led initiatives have led to establishing of Aoga ‘Amata (Samoan language and culture immersion preschool), Pacific Islands Early Childhood Association (PIECA) and the establishing of Samoan Studies departments within tertiary institutions, there continues to be an urgent need for government support and the implementation of Pacific language policies to ensure the continued use and protection of Samoan and other Pacific languages within the realm of Aotearoa New Zealand.  The three research questions framing this investigation are as follows:  1. How do the second and third generation Samoans view language and culture as contributing to their identity?  2. Where are second and third generation Samoans using and learning Samoan? 3. Is there a relationship between wellbeing and language shift?  O le Filiga Afa, a qualitative research methodology, was born out of this research in response to the need for a culturally responsive framework. Data was gathered through focus group and one-to-one discussions and included New Zealand - born Samoan - speaking and non-Samoan - speaking Samoan participants. Key findings from this study include:  • All participants had a deep yearning for maintaining and revitalising their heritage languages;  • Language, culture and identity are intertwined and cannot be separated from one another; • The role of elders, genealogy and the connection to culture contributes significantly towards the reinforcing and the maintenance of the Samoan language. • A strong connection can be found between language shift and one’s wellbeing


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Applied Linguistics

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Arts

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code


Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Linguistics and Applied Language Studies


Seals, Corinne; Sanga, Kabini