Auckland's Rowandale School opens Niuean Bilingual Unit

Niuean is one of the most endangered Pacific languages, with just 7000 people across the globe speaking it.  

But it was heard loud and clear at Manurewa's Rowandale School on Wednesday for the opening of its brand-new bilingual unit.  

There are more than 30,000 Niueans living in Aotearoa but, of those, fewer than 11 percent speak the language 

"We gathered the community and they voiced there was definitely a need for a Niue unit," said the unit's team leader, Ilatose Fuataga. "Just so that we could embrace but also instill the Vagahau Niue into our families, not just our children." 

With just 1600 people living on the island of Niue, the language is classified by UNESCO as "definitely endangered". 

Principal Karl Vasau said that's why the opening of the Niue language unit, just the third in New Zealand, is so important.  

"The language is endangered and if I've got fluent speakers of a language working on my staff, I owe it to that community to utilise that hidden skill." 

There are more than 40 students in the unit. Vasau believes celebrating children's identity is key to engaging them in school. 

"Bilingual units like this will address and go towards the identity crisis a lot of Pacific children have," he said "fix that and we're going to have a lot more children achieving better results."