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Suzanne

Suzanne Evans

Year of Award: 2018 Award State: National Education > Indigenous
To invigorate the endangered Norfolk Island language through a pre school 'language nest' approach - New Zealand, USA, Finland
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Brief History of Norfolk Island 
Norfolk Island, in the South Pacific, is the home to the Norfolk Islanders. 

I am a direct descendant and 6th generation Islander from my forefathers, the Bounty Mutineers and Tahitian foremothers that established their community on Norfolk Island in 1856, after migrating from Pitcairn Island.

Norfolk Island lay under the sovereignty of the United Kingdom, with ‘God Save the Queen’ remaining today as our National Anthem. In 1913, Australia transferred Norfolk Island to be an external territory. The Island remained self-governing with an elected Legislative Assembly and protected immigration status which ensured that the Islanders home in terms of land, culture and language remained strong.

A fragile existence for language, culture and identity in a time of impact.
Recently, in 2015, Australia has removed Norfolk Island of its autonomy and moved administration to an Australian Local Council level. As such, our member for Parliament resides in the ACT where decisions are being made for the Island, immigration is now open and people are considered a resident if they have lived on Island for six months. The Hospital and School now come under Commonwealth jurisdiction, with the NSW Department of Education moving out of their commitment with Norfolk Island in June 2021 and NSW Health moving to the Commonwealth. The Norfolk Island Hospital has been unable to support Islanders in Maternity health since 2015, with no Norfolk Islanders born on Island since that year.

Norf’k Laengwij 
The Norfolk Island language, known simply as Norf’k is coming under considerable pressure with the climate of change on the Island. Norf’k is recognized as a Co-official Language with English and has a Latin writing system based on phonetics. The Norf’k language code is ISO 639-3 with no glottolog or ethnologue at present, but is listed under P as Pitcairn-Norfolk code (pih). It is seen as a distinct language from English. Norf’k is also referred to as Pitkern or Pitkern-Norf’k language.

Preserving the history, heritage and culture of Norfolk Island
The Norf’k Language was declared a UNESCO Endangered Language in 2007. The aim of my project is to look at strategies to invigorate the endangered Norf’k language. I will look at global ‘best practice programs’ that are successful in Indigenous language revitalization. Specifically, I will look at ‘Language Nests’ as a viable option for Norf’k language and an avenue to connect our Elders and community. My purpose for this project is to inspire, collaborate and create innovative, inclusive programs on Norfolk Island that will strengthen the language and culture.

Conclusions and Recommendations:
Norfolk Island is in a strong position to revitalise Norf’k language and culture. Within each section of my report are reflective implications for Norfolk Island.

Recommendations:

  • Build a Cultural Centre for Norfolk Island.
  • Create a Language Nest for Norf’k.
  • Build capacity in Islanders for future vocations in language and culture.
  • Have a Language Council for Norf’k.
  • Record Islanders speaking, video cultural activities, create resources.

Keywords: Language Nest, endangered language, Norf'k, Indigenous, revitalisation, Norfolk Island, teacher pedagogy

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