GI Cook Islands Community Celebrates Language Week

The official opening Te Akono’anga e te reo Māori Kūki ‘Āirani, Cook Islands Maori Culture and Language Week 2019, was celebrated in style at the bustling Glen Innes Library in Tamaki on Monday August 5. SPASIFIK editor and publisher INNES LOGAN was there



There wasn’t much silence in the library as the kukis have taken over for the week, at all council libraries across Auckland, including the light-filled and cheerful space next to Te Oro arts centre.


The Cook Islands ethnic group has the second largest Pacific population with 20.9%, or 61,839 people, of Cook Islands heritage.


With lots of cheer, colour, culture and most importantly te reo Māori Kūki ‘Āirani the library came alive with the Cook Island community celebrating their endangered language.


This year’s theme is: Taku rama, taau toi: ora te reo / My torch, your adze: The language lives


More than half of all Cook Islanders living in New Zealand (59.5%) reside in Auckland, almost four times the entire population living in the Cook Islands which is approximately 17,500.


Almost 60% of Pacific people are now born in New Zealand and there is concern that the trend will accelerate unless promotion of the languages is strengthened.


The languages of New Zealand’s realm countries: Niue, Tokelau and the Cook Islands are classified by UNESCO as vulnerable or endangered.


Which is why the annual week-long event is hosted by the Ministry of Pacific Peoples and supported by Cook Islanders across Aotearoa.


It began in 2010 and is supported to promote seven Pacific languages and cultures in order to improve language retention and to celebrate their way of life.



All week long the Cook Islands community in Glen Innes will be sharing their culture and language with anyone that finds their way at the Glen Innes library during te 'epetoma o te reo Māori Kūki ‘Āirani.


Local electorate candidates were in attendance through the presence of councillors Chris Makoare, the only Maori chair of the local board across Auckland Council, and Samoan Josephine Bartley, the only Pacific woman in the governing body.


Te reo Māori Kūki ‘Āirani

Cook Islands Maori is an Eastern Polynesian language that belongs in the same language family as New Zealand Maori, Hawaii and Tahiti. Cook Islands Maori has a number of dialects, including Pukapuka, Aitutaki, Ngaputoru (the dialects of Atiu, Ma’uke and Miti’aro), Mangaia, Manihiki-Rakahanga and Penrhyn (Tongareva).

The Cook Islands, named after Captain James Cook, comprises of 15 small islands spread over 1.8 million square km, with the capital Avarua located on the main island of Rarotonga.

It is part of the Realm of New Zealand, which is not a federation, but a collection of states and territories united under its monarch.