3 Aug 2019

Cook Islanders in NZ to celebrate their 'God-given' language

10:40 am on 3 August 2019

The annual Cook Islands Language Week kicks off this weekend and New Zealanders of Cook Islands heritage are being urged to speak the language to keep it alive.

The theme for this year's 'Epetoma o te reo Māori Kūki 'Āirani is Taku rama, taau toi: Ora te reo - My torch, your adze: The language lives.

Porirua pastor Teremoana Tauira Maka said Cook Islanders in New Zealand should speak Cook Islands Māori at home with their children.

Pastor Teremoana Tauira Maka

Pastor Teremoana Tauira Maka Photo: RNZ/ Tim Glasgow

He called on the community and church leaders to speak the language and encourage its use.

"If we believe we are a Christian nation who believes in God and that God has given us this language, then we are accountable to God to speak, teach and encourage the speaking of Te Reo Māori and ensuring that the language lives forever."

Events will be held across the country from August 4-10 (Tapati 4 Aukute to Ma'anakai 10 Aukute).

Many New Zealanders of Cook Islands heritage are expected to showcase their music and taonga during the celebrations.

The Cook Islands' High Commissioner to New Zealand, Elizabeth Wright-Koteka, said it was important to celebrate the Cook Islands language so as not to lose it.

All dialects - Aitutaki, Aitu, Mauke, Mitiaro or the northern group - should be celebrated, Ms Wright-Koteka said.

"Only 12 percent of our people in Aotearoa speak our Cook Islands language," she said.

"We need to change this situation and teach our children and future generations our language."