Embracing Cook Islands Language Week

posted: 12:00 am - 31st July 2016
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Pacific Peoples Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga has joined Cook Islands communities across New Zealand to celebrate Cook Islands Language Week 2016.

Cook Islands Language Week runs from Sunday 31 July to Saturday 6 August this year. The Ministry for Pacific Peoples works closely with Cook Islands community groups supporting and promoting the heritage and language through the week’s events.

A new Cook Islands language education resource co-created by the Ministry for Pacific Peoples with the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa is being released to help encourage more learners of the reo (language).

“The Cook Islands and their people hold a special place in New Zealand’s culture. This language week will celebrate the tao’onga (heritage) of the community’s language, and a new reo learning resource developed with Te Papa will make the language more accessible for new learners, as well as those reconnecting with their culture,” said Mr Lotu-Iiga.

The theme, ‘Kia ariki au i toku tupu'anga, ka ora uatu rai toku reo’, translates as ‘To embrace my heritage, my language lives on’. It was developed by young Cook Islanders led by the community group Cook Islands Development Agency New Zealand (CIDANZ). The theme reflects the three pillars of Cook Islands’ society: family (ngutu’are tangata), culture (peu) and God (te Atua).

“Whether through imene (song), ura (dance) or anau (family) and community gatherings, the use of the reo helps this vibrant community connect as tangata Kuki ‘Airani,” Mr Lotu-Iiga says.

Cook Islanders make up about 22 percent of New Zealand’s Pacific population, with more living here than in the Cook Islands. There are close to 62,000 people in New Zealand who identify as Cook Islanders. Less than 13 percent of New Zealand-born Cook Islanders speak Cook Islands Maori.

A list of events marking Cook Islands Language Week alongside the language resource can be found here