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Kia orāna! Cook Islands Language Week / Te epetoma o te reo Māori Kuki Airani - 30th July 2017 to 5th August 2017




This year's theme is`Ei rāvenga nāku i te tuatua i tōku reo Māori Kūki ’Āirani ka anoano au i te turuturu ā tōku ngutu`are tangata `ē te matakeinanga – An encouraging home and community environment is what I need to build my love and my confidence to speak my reo Māori Kūki ’Āirani.'


Languages of the Cook Islands

There are three distinct Polynesian languages spoken in the Cook Islands.

  1. Cook Islands Māori is an Eastern Polynesian language with a number of dialects. This language belongs to the same language family as New Zealand Māori and the languages of Hawai‘i and Tahiti.
  2. Pukapuka is a Western Polynesian language, belonging to the same language family as the languages of Sāmoa, Tuvalu, and Tokelau.
  3. Palmerston Island has its own unique and distinctive mixture of Cook Islands Māori and English.

Cook Islands Māori has several distinct dialects. Speakers of one dialect can understand the others. The dialects are:

  • Aitutaki
  • Ātiu, Ma‘uke, and Miti‘āro (Ngāpūtoru)
  • Mangaia
  • Manihiki and Rakahanga
  • Rarotonga
  • Tongareva (Penrhyn).

The dialect of Rarotonga is the most widely used and standardised dialect, both in the Cook Islands and within Cook Islands communities in New Zealand. The Cook Island Maori Language Guidelines lists resources and ideas to support the learning of this particular dialect. You may be able to call on people in your community to learn other dialects or languages of the Cook Islands.



Information sourced from The Cook Islands Māori Language Guidelines.



Cook Islands Language Week and the National Curriculum 

The Pasifika Education Planemphasises the importance of connecting and responding to the identities, languages, and cultures of each Pasifika group in schools. Students' wellbeing and achievement is enhanced when their learning reflects and reinforces where they come from, what they value, and what they already know.


Cook Islands Language Week / Te epetoma o te reo Māori Kuki Airani celebrates the identity, languages, and cultures of students from the Cook Islands and students whose families are from the Cook Islands; supporting this group of learners to engage and achieve success. 


This special week supports the curriculum principles of cultural diversity and inclusion, and provides an opportunity for all students to:

  • explore the values of diversity and respect
  • make use of key competencies, especially using language, symbols, and texts and relating to others
  • achieve learning outcomes described in the learning languages learning area.

Cook Islands Language Week / Te epetoma o te reo Māori Kuki Airani helps all New Zealanders journey towards shared cultural understandings. Learning a new language gives us insight into new ways of thinking, and to different beliefs and cultural practices. Everyone who learns the languages of the Cook Islands helps to preserve them.


By learning an additional language and its related culture(s), students come to appreciate that languages and cultures are systems that are organised and used in particular ways to achieve meaning. Learning a new language extends students’ linguistic and cultural understanding and their ability to interact appropriately with other speakers ... Through such interaction, students acquire knowledge, skills, and attitudes that equip them for living in a world of diverse peoples, languages, and cultures.

The New Zealand Curriculum, p. 24.



Below are some links to resources that are available to you.  Please note some of the resources make reference to the NZ school curriculum, but we have included them as they are still valuable resources to support ECE teachers.



Key Resources


Te Kaveinga o Te Reo Māori Kūki ‘Āirani: The Cook Islands Māori Language Guidelines - is designed to support the teaching and learning of Kūki ‘Airini as an additional language in New Zealand early childhood and school settings. It sets out the competencies that learners need in order to communicate effectively in te reo Māori Kūki ‘Āirani. Suggestions for the teaching and learning of Kūki ‘Airini in early childhood and school settings are included.




I-E-Ko-Ko! An Introduction to Cook Islands Māori
This multi-media resource supports the teaching and learning of Kūki ‘Airini as an additional language at years 7 to 10.




Pasifika dual language books – Cook Islands Māori
The Pasifika dual language resources are designed to support the early language and literacy learning of Pasifika new entrant students in English-medium classrooms. Teacher and parent support material accompanies these resources. Many of the dual language books are available as PDFs and all the books are available as MP3 audio files.




Cook Islands Māori storybooks
Six storybooks, each with teacher support materials, have been developed to support the Learning Languages series resource I–E–Ko–Ko!


Supporting Resources


Cook Islands Language Week resource – Te Papa
Learn Cook Islands Māori words, phrases, and pronunciation, and explore aspects of Cook Islands Māori culture.


Facebook page
If you are a Facebook user there is a Cook Islands Language Week group that you can join to keep up to date with news, resources, and events.


Mama Mata's Cook Island language classes
This Facebook community offers language lessons to help those wanting to learn the basics of Kūki ‘Airini.


Christchurch City Libraries - Cook Islands Māori language week page
This page offers recordings of simple phrases in Cook Islands Māori.


Adult learners learning Cook Islands Māori reo in Porirua
This film clip from Tagata Pasifika describes how adults of Cook Island descent are learning Kūki ‘Airini so they can pass on the knowledge to their own children.


Celebrating Cook Islands Māori through trivial pursuits
This video shows how the Cook Islands community in Tokoroa came together to celebrate Cook Islands Māori language week in 2012.


Digistore resource – Kia Orāna (from Kiwi Kidsongs)
Kia Orāna is a Cook Islands song of welcome, featuring the flowers of Rarotonga. Resource number R81084. Please note that you need to join and log in to Digistore to access resources.


Pasifika digital legends
These digital legends are based on traditional stories from the Pacific. They have been selected and retold, in English and Pasifika languages, by New Zealand students.


Niu FM – The beat of the Pacific
This radio station provides music, news, talkback, competitions, events, and stories in Kūki ‘Airini and other Pasifika languages.


Poly songbook
Check out some of the favourite songs of the Pacific.


Cook Islands song kit
This kit comes with a song book and a CD. It can be ordered from Down the Back of the Chair, the Ministry of Education's catalogue of teaching and learning resources for schools.


Digital Stories



Effective teaching for Pasifika students – Language
This film shows the benefits of valuing and sharing the languages that Pasifika students bring with them into the classroom.




Some of the resources make reference to the NZ school curriculum, but we have included them above as they are still valuable resources to support ECE teachers.















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