Auckland based Hindi Language and Culture Trust of New Zealand and ‘Teach Hindi New Zealand’ has appealed to the New Zealand government to accord official status to Hindi and include the language in the school curriculum.
In a submission to the Education Minister last fortnight, Trust President Satya Dutt said that Hindi should be recognised and supported as language throughout New Zealand.
“The government should recognise Hindi as the founding spoken and written language in New Zealand and provide funding and expertise through language experts to our Trust to continue with the development of the Hindi Curriculum Document. We also appeal that a position should be created within the Education Ministry for Trust President to coordinate and facilitate promotion and teaching and learning of Hindi language between ministries and communities and learning institutions,” he said.
According to Mr Dutt, New Zealand has witnessed a significant increase in the number of people speaking Hindi during the past decade, creating the need to accord an official status of the language.
The Waite Report
He said that the Waite Report in 1992 had said that evidence indicates that comparatively few New Zealanders whose first language is English are fluent in another language.
“It is clear that the level of bilingualism in the total New Zealand population is low. Where bilingualism does occur, it occurs mainly in minority language groups. But bilingualism is not nearly as prevalent in the majority population, whose first language is English.”
Mr Dutt said that while the government supports twelve languages (French, Spanish, German, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Maori, Samoan, Tongan, Niuean, Tokelauan, Cook Island Maori) it does not support Hindi, which is emerging as a language spoken by a large number of people.
Quoting the 2013 Census Report, he said that there has been an increase of approximately 22,000 Hindi speakers since the 2006 census, raising the number to 66,312.
“This makes Hindi the fourth highest most spoken language in New Zealand and ranking third in Auckland. Of the total Hindi speaking population in New Zealand, 49,518 speakers live in Auckland alone, the largest and the most culturally diverse city in New Zealand. Amongst the Indian population, Hindi was the second-most common language spoken.”
Mr Dutt said that increasingly, children from Hindi-speaking backgrounds do not converse in the language, thus becoming second-language learners.
Stating that more than 550 million people speak Hindi in India, he said that of these 422 million people are native to the language and that about 98 million speak Hindi as the second language and 31 million as the third language.
“Hindi is an official language in India and Fiji. Its importance as a global language is increasing day by day. Hindi is the fourth most-spoken first language in the world, after Mandarin, Spanish and English,” he said.
Satya Dutt is a Teacher, President of Hindi Language and Culture Trust of New Zealand and Founder-Member of Fiji Girmit Foundation New Zealand. The above is a small part of an exhaustive Report prepared by Mr Dutt, taken from the papers presented and published by Sunita Narayan, Operations Manager and Teacher at Wellington Hindi School, Hindi Tutor at Victoria University of Wellington and President of Community Languages Association of New Zealand (CLANZ)) for presentation at the ‘Commemoration of the Centennial of the abolition of Fiji Indian Indentureship, Lautoka,’ event held from March 22 to 26, 2017 at the Fiji Girmit Centre , Fiji.