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Youth lead Cook Islands Language Week

Youth lead Cook Islands Language Week

  • 02 Aug 2021
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Cook Islands Language Week 2021 starts on August 1 and concludes on August 7.

This year’s ‘Epetoma o te reo Māori Kūki ‘Āirani - Cook Islands Language Week theme highlights the vital role language plays in maintaining young people’s links to their Pacific home. 

The theme Ātuitui’ia au ki te Oneone o tōku ‘Ui Tupuna translates to connect me to the soil of my ancestors.

Minister for Pacific Peoples Hon Aupito William Sio explains the theme refers to the feeling of being home many Pacific people experience when they speak their precious language away from the islands of their ancestors. 

“It is even more important as the theme was chosen by young people of the Cook Islands community,” Minister Sio says. 

“I believe it is up to all New Zealanders to ensure Cook Islands leaders of tomorrow are given the chance to connect to their unique cultural identity and heritage.” 

The Minister adds although it is great many people speak te reo Māori Kūki ‘Āirani during the annual language week, we must proactively nurture the language so our New Zealand-born Cook Islanders have a sense of their linguistic and cultural heritage all year round. 

The 2018 census revealed of the 80,000 Cook Islanders living in New Zealand, 80 percent were born in New Zealand. 

Minister Sio says now more than ever it is important Cook Islanders embrace their language and heritage to keep the connection to their homelands alive. 

“Pacific Language Weeks are about more than each Pacific community celebrating their language – they are an opportunity for the rest of the country to appreciate and learn more about their Pacific neighbours. 

“My hope for ‘Epetoma o te reo Māori Kūki ‘Āirani is broader New Zealand communities join with the Cook Islands community as they embrace their young people’s call to action to strengthen their connection to their heritage. 

“This can be done by using simple words and greetings in te reo Māori Kūki ‘Āirani such as kia orāna (hello/greetings), meitaki (thank you), ‘aere rā (goodbye),” he says. 

Cook Islands Language Week concludes on August 7, with a closing ceremony staged at Te Oro Music and Arts Centre, in Glen Innes, Auckland on August 6.

Learn more about the Pacific Language Weeks