Encouraging the use of Cook Islands Maori at home

This year’s ‘Epetoma o te reo Māori Kūki ’Āirani: Cook Islands Language Week 2017 launched on Saturday 29 at the Auckland Museum to encourage Cook Island people to speak the language and retain the culture, especially in their homes.


Officially opened by Minister for Pacific Peoples Hon. Alfred Ngaro there was beautiful singing, dancing and we got to meet this year’s Miss Cook Islands NZ contestants.


In his address to the crowd of metua (elders) and prominent Cook Islanders from around Auckland and the northern regions Minister Ngaro talked about the importance of retaining the language and culture for the success of future generations.


“One of the challenges that we face, for us Cook Islanders, is (retaining) our language, our te reo.


“We are one of the top three Pacific countries that are most in danger of losing our language and if we lose our language, the reality is we will also lose our culture.”


He said it was an honour for him to open the launch as the Minister for Pacific Peoples, but more importantly as a Cook Islander, a New Zealand-born one who can speak the language thanks in large part to his first teacher, his grandmother.


He encouraged that people teach the language as his grandmother taught him, and acknowledged MPP as taking on a more proactive role in keeping Pacific languages alive.



On behalf of the Auckland War Memorial Museum, Lunnae Pohatu, Tumuaki Director, Māori Projects and Development, addressed the audience in te reo. 



Mareta Ford-Matenga, a representative from the Hamilton Cook Islands community mothers who came up with this year’s theme, explained the theme and talked about how she wishes she could speak the language fluently.  



Chair of the Cook Islands Development Agency New Zealand (CIDANZ) talked about how his children who are half Samoan are encouraged to learn te reo Kuki ‘Airani by his Samoan wife who sings Cook Island Maori songs to them.



The audience was then introduced to the contestants vying for the title of Miss Cook Islands NZ 2017, before being treated to a Cook Island dance performance.



Be sure to check out events you can head along to this week to celebrate or just immerse yourself in the culture.