The call has gone out for the creation of a global network to promote Rotuman language and culture in this current Covid-19 pandemic environment.

The coronavirus pandemic failed to stop the inaugural Rotuman Language Week in New Zealand this year.

Instead Covid-19 transformed how the islanders celebrated their language and culture last week.

Rotuman was the first of nine Pacific language weeks and the islanders took to the internet to celebrate the historic milestone.

Rotumans around the world were leveraging tools like Zoom, Facebook, Youtube and WhatsApp to tune in to the events in Aotearoa.

It’s typically a community affair but the New Zealand Rotuman Fellowship Group (NZRG) and the Auckland Rotuman Fellowship Group (ARFG) were forced to think virtual.

An event that’s meant to bring the community together was observed apart.

Programmes including Rotuma Day celebrations on 13 May were quietly marked by islanders in their bubbles across the world.

Instead of sitting in a church, as the pastor prayed for the people and the weeklong event, Rotumans watched and listened through an app on their phones, computers and television monitors.

Language week celebrations in Aotearoa will be different this year.

Thousands of Rotumans marked last week with thanksgiving services, language lessons and videos, arts, panel discussions, dances and youth-led initiatives.

But Rotuman language advocates say the celebrations should not stop there.

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