Pacific Language Expert Resigns From New Zealand Advisory Post

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Samoan instructor frustrated over lack of attention to bilingual education

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Nov. 26, 2012) – One of the Pacific region's foremost language experts has resigned from the council advising New Zealand's Pacific Island Affairs Minister.

Galulemana Hunkin is a lecturer in Samoan at Victoria University in Wellington and has more than 40 years experience in teaching.

He's told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat program he's been frustrated by New Zealand's latest Pasifika Education plans, which he says ignores community needs.

"The importance of these languages continue to fall on deaf ears," he said.

"After doing it for so long and getting the same result, many platitudes shall I say, in these plans which don't seem to result in any effective improvement of children's progress in schools in any case.

"So I thought, what is the point of carrying on?"

The New Zealand Government last week unveiled plans to boost the number of Pasifika teachers by 20 per cent, as part of an overall bid to increase participation from Pacifika communities.

But the plan has drawn criticism for making no comment in relation to bilingual education in Pacific languages.

Mr Hunkin says without more resources to back up the plans, it won't have the desired result.

"When I saw this latest plan, I thought 'this is the same words and pictures', which is very nice to read," he said.

"But [they] effectively don't have much support by way of resources or training programs for teaching of these languages within the schools.

"They're quite meaningless as far as I'm concerned."

Mr Hunkin says taking the right steps to boost education and employment opportunities for the Pacific communities in New Zealand makes economic sense for both countries.

"There's a very strong case for New Zealand, for example, to consider the importance of the Samoan language within New Zealand to be taught, because of the huge remittances that the Samoan community in New Zealand sends back to Samoa each year," he said.

"If you remove that big contribution by in New Zealand, for instance, you're going to end up with New Zealand in the future sending back more money by foreign aid, so it's a very important aspect of the economic question itself."

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