A major of focus of Te Papa’s work is on documenting aspects of Intangible Cultural Heritage including oral histories and traditions, performances, knowledge around crafts, social practices, rituals and customs. Language is an important element of all of these activities.
Regular readers of the blog will know that we have already celebrated the Samoan, Tongan and Cook Islands language weeks this year. This week is Tuvalu language week and the theme is “Tuvalu tau gana ko tou lagaifakalaga Tuvalu, your language keeps your culture and identity afloat”.
Over the next five days curators from the Pacific Cultures team will be highlighting key Tuvalu artefacts and stories from Te Papa’s collections. To introduce you to Tuvalu, here are valu (eight) things you should know.
1. “Tuvalu” means eight islands although there are actually nine inhabited islands.
2. Tuvalu was part of the British colony of the Gilbert (now Kiribati) and Ellice Islands from 1892 until its independence in 1978.
3. Tuvalu has a combined land area of approx. 26sq kms, but it has an Exclusive Economic Zone that is 900,000sq.kms.
4. The highest elevation is 4.6 meters above sea level making the atolls of Tuvalu very vulnerable to changes in sea level.
5. There are no streams or rivers in Tuvalu. People rely on catchment systems and a desalination facility for water.
6. Most people in Tuvalu rely on fishing and agriculture for their day to day subsistence. The main exports are copra and fish.
7. In 2012, Tuvalu had a population of 9847 people.
8. In 2006, there were 2,625 Tuvalu people in New Zealand, the seventh largest Pacific ethnic group.