Samoan Language Week kicks off today and for the first time an educational booklet is available to encourage New Zealanders to learn the language.

Sixty per cent of Samoans in New Zealand speak Gagana Samoa and it is the third most commonly spoken language here.

"I would like to see that number grow and Vaiaso o le Gagana Samoa: Samoan Language Week is a time to focus on how we can make that happen," Pacific Peoples Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga said.

"The challenge for all of us during this language week is to find opportunities to use Gagana Samoa more in our community, churches and workplaces. We also need to keep using the language for the rest of the year," he said.


For the first time, an education resource has been created to help people learn the language.

"The resource supports Samoan Language Week with an explanation of the theme, pronunciation support, helpful words and phrases and a lot of activity ideas," Mr Lotu-Iiga says.

The theme this year is: "E felelei manu, ae ma'au i o latou ofaga: Birds migrate to environments where they survive and thrive."

It explored how identity, environments, diversity and sustainability were crucial aspects of creating communities where people were supported to learn and use Gagana Samoa.

Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy said Gagana Samoa was a language of the future and encouraged New Zealanders to celebrate Samoan Language Week.

"As well as a language that epitomises the ancient Samoan culture, Gagana Samoa is also a language of the future.

"Google Translate for Samoan was launched earlier this year, a sign that Samoan is being used on the internet so much that a translation tool was needed: we echo the hopes of Pacific [Peoples] Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga that this will extend to our other Pacific languages in years to come," Dame Susan said.

Vaiaso o le Gagana Samoa: Samoan Language Week, starts today and ends on Saturday.