oday is the first day of celebrating Samoan language week in NZ from 24 – 30 May with the theme being: “Tapena sou ōso mo lau malaga” translated as ‘prepare your gift for your journey’.

The thought behind the theme is to encourage Samoans (and supporters) to prepare for the journey ahead and to share gifts along the way which is something that my family does whenever we visit i.e. in taking something to share with the others.

It highlights the way in which we as Samoans honour the traditions we have of taking a ‘oso’ gift/s whenever we are travelling to visit others and it doing that we show honour to the family that we will be visiting. It also shows respect in that we are valuing that time to be spent together.

In a sense, as we share a ‘oso’ or travelling gift, we are also honouring our ancestral tradition in continuing a time-honored custom that our ancestors practiced those many years ago. For many of us we take foods that are hard to source to where we are travelling to eg. mussels, NZ confectionary to Australia, NZ foods to Samoa, Samoan delicacies to NZ and so on.

This is something that I learned through my parents when I used to travel alone to United States first as a teenager and I’d take food or other gifts to my family there and come back with macademia chocolates, Tshirts and US confectionary etc. and now with my own family in sharing with our children in not visiting empty-handed but choosing appropriate gifts and in doing so, we share our love and respect through sharing time-honouring traditions that build, nurture and strengthen our language, culture, and identity…