Celebrating Cook Island Language Week

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

Cook Island Language week has kicked off with a formal opening at the Auckland War Memorial Museum.

Kim Tuaine, CEO of the Pacific Business Trust says, “So it's the launch of Cook Island Language Week, and really I guess the focus is to come together and celebrate Cook Island culture and to renew efforts to keep our language alive.”

To mark the special occasion, formal celebrations were held at the Auckland War Memorial Museum.

Native speaker Nana Kamo-Mataho says, “It's always nice to have everybody together to know how important the reo is, the reo Māori Kūki Āirani.”

Over 62,000 Cook Islanders live in New Zealand however, the language is one of the three most endangered languages in New Zealand.

Kim Tuaine says, “I think it's absolutely vital that we have events like this to celebrate our language but also to renew efforts to preserve it.”

According to Nana Kamo-Mataho, “If you can't speak your language you are nothing so please speak in our Cook Island language.”

Kim Tuaine maintains that if the culture grows the people will flourish.

“It's really around how language and culture can give meaning to people and identity to people and create economic circumstances which enable them to thrive.”

Cook Island heirlooms will be on display at the Auckland War Memorial Museum as part of the Pacific Island Access Project and a final day of cultural celebrations will be held at Te Oro in Glen Innes on the 5th of August.