Youth can’t speak Maori, says Papa

Friday May 30, 2014 Written by Published in Culture
Pastor Ngarima George, seen in his hut at Punanga Nui Market. 14051313  Pastor Ngarima George, seen in his hut at Punanga Nui Market. 14051313

A forthright community elder says he is deeply concerned about the number of young people who cannot speak the Cook Islands Maori language.

Pastor Ngarima George is placing the blame on the Ministries of Culture and Education, saying both must to do more to ensure the language is promoted and preserved.

“Today when I speak Cook Islands Maori to any kids, they say “Huh? What did you say?’ A generation is growing up not knowing the language.”

George said he believes Cook Islands Maori is being taught in schools but, based on his interactions with children, not well enough.

“They have got programmes but maybe they’re not functioning very well.”

He called on staff at the Ministry of Education to take the issue more seriously and ensure every child is being taught the language in an effective and relevant way.

Knowing the language is central to understanding your identity as a Cook Islander, he said.

“It’s very important that every Cook Islander comes to know who they are, where they come from and where they’re heading.”

He is also pointing the finger at the Ministry of Culture, which he believes has taken its eye off the ball.

“I would say the team there are not doing much.”

He said the Ministry must run more events and activities which keep the language alive and thriving. George worked at the Ministry of Culture in the 1970s and again more recently, from 2004 to 2010, when he was eventually dismissed.

He said a strong team existed in his time, which started a number of programmes to preserve the culture and language, including mire tarai vaka (making of the traditional canoe), mire kaa (making of ropes), and mire maooro (traditional massage).

“Today all these activities have been pushed aside. It’s sad.”

He added that parents are not being encouraged to speak the language to their kids.

George, who is developing a dictionary of the Manihiki dialect,  said he and his wife will happily start teaching Bible in schools, in Cook Islands Maori, if they are allowed.


  • Comment Link Kataraina Ariki Sunday, 03 January 2016 16:50 posted by Kataraina Ariki

    Meitaki nunui e Papa Ngarima George, penei rai e nguru me kore e kope rai no teia au uki au o te Kavamani? Rekareka ua ratou kua tu ki te rare no te Kavamani tera ra kare oki e kite ki te akamaroiroi i ta tatou tamariki, anau, mokopuna i roto i te au areapi'i. Te akaroa tikai....

    Na: Kataraina Ariki

  • Comment Link Aunty Entity Wednesday, 02 September 2015 16:19 posted by Aunty Entity

    If you want to learn, just find someone to talk to in the language. I'm a Pappa-a can't spell this stuff very well, I married in. I can now speak as much or more CI than the kids do. But its just a matter of taking interest in it, and using it when you can. I don't think I'll ever be fluent though.



  • Comment Link Katarina Monday, 31 August 2015 00:09 posted by Katarina

    Dont you have kohanga or immersion schools over there?

  • Comment Link Ben Tama Sunday, 30 August 2015 15:52 posted by Ben Tama

    Our culture and our reo starts at home. No good relying on the school to teach our kids when our kids go home to their Cook Islands speaking parents who only speak English to them. This is why our language is in danger of being lost. Need to take a leaf out of our Samoan and Tongan brethren book when they insist on speaking their language to their kids no matter what country they live in, hence, why many NZ born n raised Samoans and Tongans can speak their language and the majority of NZ born Cook Islanders cant.

  • Comment Link Anton Mou Sunday, 30 August 2015 11:08 posted by Anton Mou

    Both my parents come from the Cook island... my siblings and were born and raised in NZ. We grew speaking English... in hindsight now and discussing with our parents... why didnt they speak to us in CI they felt it wasn't important and english was more important then. Now I would love to learn and speak CI they were teaching it here in Hastings but came down to numbers and funding

  • Comment Link Shy Saturday, 23 August 2014 05:35 posted by Shy

    As a child in modern day cookislands 1989 growing up found that especially coming from the main land going black rock to avatea to Avarua to tereora I found one fact that remains moari is used as a second language !! When I started college you have a selection of interest u might choose & mandatory things Maori should be mandatory it is not ! We learn about the world history what about our history & stories besides first voyages everyone already knows about it painted next to the library what about identity mana ancestors tribes a proper set up as it's part of us but not many of us don't no Intel when we get older with land hearings & research respecting them is the key respecting ourselves teaching the kids not judging supporting them not breaking them down not trying to make us a white man I believe modernising with culture intact with out trying to westernise us no wonder the kids are leaving culture no support & arrogance no real foundation they are real strong cooklisland parents staunch out there that keep there culture intact but what about everyone alse our parents & there parents are they to blame or the government its being slowly destroyed & having our own kids taking on other people culture for instance nz moari customs & heritages overseas & yet they came from us what about Samoa with there language even overseas there language intact & culture do people care anymore ? Besides the people trying to keep intact .Or she'll we focus on sport & die out and be like foreigners if only our tupuna could see us they put us on the land they shed blood & tears for nothing I feel ashamed & I'm talking about majority of the cooks not the minority of people that hold there heritage Any nasty comments about me hate me it's the truth take it leave it .

  • Comment Link Rouru Noomaara Friday, 06 June 2014 23:40 posted by Rouru Noomaara

    I came to New Zealand at the age of 6 and lived with an aunty who was married to a papa'a. I was forbidden to speak the reo in the house and sadly... what was my first language... is now my second. What little of the language I do know, I share with my children and I agree that keeping our language and culture alive begins in the home.

    However, I do believe that we the Cook Island people need to realise that this is a serious concern for us all.

  • Comment Link Frances Friday, 06 June 2014 11:07 posted by Frances

    Meitaki ranuinui e papa Ngarima no tei apai mai koe I teia tumu manako puapinga ki te atea, e taitaia ua ana rai au me akamata tatou I tetai ua atu angaanga a tatou na roto I te reo papa'a e oti akera tetai taime kare takiri e papa'a me kare e ta'i e rua papa'a I roto I ta tatou angaanga a te araara papa atura tatou.....

    Te rua, ka a karanga au e, kua tupu e kua aka ia te akaue'anga i akatupuia I te au mataiti e manga nui I topa ki muri a te Pae Apii tei karanga e, "kare e tuatua Maori i te Apii" e kua riro teia ei akapakari ki te au metua e, me kite koe I te araara papa'a ka riro ei metua noou apopo!!!

    No reira, ko te Pae Apii rai tetai tango ketaketa no te aka ora akaou I to tatou I reo, Kia Toa.

  • Comment Link MamaNa Friday, 06 June 2014 09:39 posted by MamaNa

    Children will speak the language that is being spoken by the community that they are growing up in. Rarotonga is an international hub, or has become so over the years. The international language of the world is - English. We cannot blame the home, education or culture. This is an issue of societal change and language evolution. The sister islands are not affected by this issue, because their communities first language is still the indigenous dialect. It is spoken, it is heard, it is the language of conversation. This is not happening in Rarotonga. Most of our local children are bilingual - they have to be to make it in the workforce of today. We have to be staunch about speaking Maori everywhere and everyday if we want to see our children conversing in Maori more. Otherwise, we may just have to accept the fact that our children speak either both English and/ or Maori. Kia Manuia tatou katoatoa.

  • Comment Link Nio Mareiti Thursday, 05 June 2014 01:38 posted by Nio Mareiti

    E inangaro-kore: Kare oki e inangaro, kare e rave ia. Kare oki e raveia, kare e tupu.Kare oki e tupu ,kare e ora.

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