This week has been a celebration of the Cook Islands language – Te Reo Māori Kūki ‘Āirani. Yes, the indigenous people of the Cook Islands are Māori and the dialects of the Cook Islands are like Te Reo Māori of Aotearoa – New Zealand.
The Cook Islands is made up of 15 small islands, spread over 1500km of the Pacific Ocean, and lie in a north-to-south direction. Rarotonga is the capital of the Cook Islands. Twelve of the 15 islands are inhabited, with each island having their own dialect. When travelling from island to island, the influence of other languages spoken by neighbouring island nations such as Samoa, Tokelau, and Tuvalu in the North-West; and Tahiti and Hawai’i in the South-East is apparent.
The theme for Cook Islands Language Week 2020/ Te epetoma o te reo Māori Kuki ‘Āirani 2020 is “Kia pūāvai tō tātou Reo Māori Kūki ‘Āirani i Aotearoa”, which means “May the Cook Islands Māori language blossom throughout New Zealand”!
Te reo Māori Kuki ‘Āirani has been diluted over many decades of colonisation, governmental decrees, the influence of religion, and the eventual migration of the people to live abroad. Historical events created the perfect storm that negatively impacted the language and culture of the Cook Islands. The fullness of a language, the nuances and subtlety as taught from the “apron strings of our mother” holds part of the key to our identity. As a generation of our grandparents pass away, they take with them their world view of decades of observations, and the knowledge of their ancestors.
Currently, an effort is being made to keep the language alive. This week provides a platform to strengthen the language. The next time you holiday in COVID-free Cook Islands try out these phrases.
- Kia Orana – Hello
- Pe’ea koe? – How are you?
- Meitaki au – I am good
- Akape’ea koe? – How about you?
- Meitaki au – I am fine
Follow this link to listen and practise your pronunciation: LEARN COOK ISLANDS LANGUAGE – Lesson 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LU63nhA9LAE
Language carries with it the knowledge and stories of our forebears, and a place we can call home. No reira, kia orana, kia orana, katoatoa, e kia manuia. Good health and the best of luck to you all!
This article was written by Roimata Takie – Programme Coordinator, Level 4 and 5