‘Kuki Time’ inspires language skills

Saturday July 21, 2018 Written by Published in Hot on the Rock
Kura Happ and students from Apii Nikao bust out some dance moves. 18072004 Kura Happ and students from Apii Nikao bust out some dance moves. 18072004

Continuing to inspire local students are local artists Phoebe and Kura Happ.


The mother-daughter duo has once again brought their high-tempo, fun-filled “Kuki Time 4 Kids” sessions to local schools during Term 2.

The pair started the sessions last year after Phoebe created an educational CD and lyric book in the hope of helping local kids become more confident in speaking the Cook Islands language.

“For me when I was growing up, during the 1960’s it was a time when we were encouraged to not speak Maori, and even at times were told off for doing so.

“Going through this time period, I can see that a lot of people are not as confident with the language and that can filter through to our kids.”

After spending every second Tuesday at Apii Nikao in Term 2, Phoebe said the progress the children made in a short time period was hugely rewarding.

“You could see when they came in for the first session they would all try and hide, not really engage with us and were not confident at all.

“Now after we have just finished our last session, they are just full of energy. We have a line we like to keep them behind for our video recording, but they are loving what they are doing (so much that) they are continually moving towards us and wanting to rush the stage.”

Phoebe created the CD last year after struggling to find Maori teaching materials to assist her when she was a voluntary teacher.

After translating nursery rhymes into Maori, Kura recorded them into songs, to create the finished product.

Alongside Kura, the Kuki Time sessions involve a ‘Zumba’ like aerobics and dance portion with some of the Nursery Rhyme songs included, of course sung in Maori.

“We include high-tempo songs, ones that the kids know from the radio to help get them moving around and enjoying themselves.”

The sessions have caught the attention of the Ministry of Education, and last week after the final session at Apii Nikao, Phoebe had a meeting with the ministry to try and get her educational resource included in the primary school’s curriculum moving forward.

“After each time we bring Kuki Time to a school we always donate some of our books and CD’s for the teachers to continue using, but having it officially in the curriculum would be a fantastic way for the kids to dedicate more learning time towards it and continue to help their language skills.”

For both Phoebe and Kura, it simply comes down to engaging the next-generation with the language to ensure its longevity.

“These kids are the guardians of our language, plain and simple. Let’s give them as many fun ways we can to get them to love learning it and in turn become more confident in carrying it forward.”

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