Cook Island Māori language expert confirms language is thriving

By Wepiha Te Kanawa

Despite 40,000 Cook Island Māori living in New Zealand and only 12,000 living in the Cook Islands, one Cook Island Māori language expert says their language is thriving more than ever.

With Māori Language Week upon us, Te Kāea spoke to Cook Island language expert Papatua Papatua today and many other locals about the status of their language and how they are able to keep it alive.

There are just some things you can't learn from a book.

Keri Herman says, “You can see the children here from Mangaia really embrace their language because they were brought up in it, in their own dialect.”

Papatua Papatua says, “We encourage our young people to sit with them, eat with them, sing with them and laugh with them.”

The kids from Mangaia are taking full advantage of it.

Ben Paio says, “The kids over here from Mangaia, they all know Mangaia language, like the mother language, but the ones over here in Rarotonga, they are kind of losing their language.”

Papatua Papatua has been an advocate for Cook Island Māori for years.  He says it's a way of life.

“I’m 100% sure to let you know and to let the world know that our Cook Island language is still alive, because that’s our language.  The language is the people, the language is the land and the language is the sea and that’s the mana.”

Now it up to future generations to carry on what the elders have started.