Nogiata Tukimata says the inspiration for her Master of Arts research was people taking for granted native languages.
“My research has been a very personal journey for me as my language defines who I am. It connects me to my homeland of Niue.
“Learning at a postgraduate level has opened my mind to what I can contribute to my own native language.”
Nogiata has always had a love for languages and began at AUT with a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Japanese, before changing to English and New Media which she graduated from in 2013.
She then went on to complete a Postgraduate Diploma in Arts (Pacific Studies) and is set to finish her Master of Arts later this year.
Nogiata says she was blessed to have grown up in a household that spoke the Vagahau Niue.
“I feel very fortunate. I didn’t embrace my language until later in life, but having learnt the language passively while I was growing up helped me a lot.”
Nogiata says she really enjoys her research topic which speaks to the Regeneration of Vagahau Niue, a case study of youth and the Ekalesia church in Niue and in Auckland, New Zealand.
“When Niue migrants arrived in New Zealand, they met and connected at the Ekalesia church as part of the fellowship that connected them with the ties to their homeland. Therefore it has become an important domain where our language is maintained through authentic worship. Especially as when I was growing up, I found the church played a big part in my language learning for me.
“The church enabled me to listen to Vagahau Niue during day-to-day interactions with family, elders and the Niue community, and understand the value of these interactions.
“I aim to capture Niue voices about the experience of using the language and how to continue to use the language, within a domain that has been influential in our histories as we move into the future.”
Nogiata is conducting interviews with ministers, church leaders and Niue youth between the ages of 18 – 24.
She hopes to bring together the Niue youth through her research, to use the language in a way they can understand.
“Through youth church services we can use the Niue language for everyone to understand and join in: whether through prayer, song and in service.”