Deepening the bonds between New Zealand’s Cook Islands community and their cultural traditions is the focus of this year’s ‘Epetoma o te reo Māori Kūki ‘Āirani – Cook Islands Language Week.
“Our Cook Islands community share deep whakapapa ties with tangata whenua in Aotearoa, including through our indigenous languages,” said Pacific Peoples Minister, Barbara Edmonds.
“Through the 2023 Language Week, our tangata Kūki ‘Āirani (Cook Islanders) are focusing on the theme of ‘Ātuitui’ia au ki te au peu o tōku kāinga Ipukarea’ which translates to ‘Connect me to the traditions and culture of my homeland’.
“This is an extension of previous themes and continues to focus on bridging the feeling of disconnection experienced by our Cook Islands community here in Aotearoa.”
The theme also aligns with UNESCO’s International Decade of Indigenous Languages 2022 – 2032, which aims to highlight and support indigenous peoples’ right to preserve, revitalise, and promote their languages.
“During the week, we’re continuing to support ties between tangata Kūki ‘Āirani and their languages through cultural traditions – including song, dance, and pe’e (chants) – of their enua (island) and vaka (tribe),” said Minister Edmonds.
“With support from the Government, the Language Week will be led by the Cook Islands Development Agency New Zealand, in association with the Religious Advisory Council NZ and Cook Islands Teachers and Educations Collective NZ.
“Kiwis across the country will have opportunity to take part in a range of events and activities, including cultural performances, prayer services, book launches, and the Ta’unga Kama’atu Awards that celebrate language champions.
“Communities will also come together on Friday to celebrate the Cook Islands Constitution Day, a cultural highlight of the Cook Islands calendar to mark their independence.
“I’m encouraging everyone to get involved in the festivities this week and support our Cook Islands whanaunga so their beautiful culture and language can be cherished for generations,” she said.
Cook Islands Language Week runs from 30 July to 5 August. More information and resources can be found on the Ministry for Pacific Peoples website.