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PAPE'ETE, Tahiti, French Polynesia (December 4, 2001 - Oceania Flash/SPC)---For the second time in its history, French Polynesia celebrated Indigenous Language Day last week, a tribute to Tahiti's most widespread local language, Reo Maohi, RFO reports.

The celebration included public performances in Pape'ete's central square, Toata, and featured singing and "Oreros" (the Polynesian traditional art of public speaking).

One of the focuses of this year's celebrations was to promote an increased use of Reo Maohi not only in its oral form, but also in writing.

To this end, event initiator, Culture Minister Louise Peltzer, introduced an award for books written in indigenous languages of the archipelago (Tahitian, Marquesian) and elsewhere in the Pacific, such as Maori (New Zealand), Wallisian, Futunian.

"This is a festival of all languages. This also must become a time to think about the role language plays in our Polynesian community," Peltzer said.

Early this year, in a similar move, "Orero" was officially introduced as a formal course in French Polynesia's Territorial Conservatory of Arts, an unprecedented recognition of the local language.

Orero is deeply rooted in the local culture. It is a complex art that combines very demanding techniques, including gestures, language, diction, voice control and space management, as well as every individual’s own sensitivity.

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