Aupito William Sio said it was a very pertinent theme for Cook Islanders because use of the language is declining and its future is under threat. Cook Islands Language Week began on Sunday (CI time)
The language is currently classified by UNESCO as a vulnerable language.
This means that while most children speak it, usage is restricted largely to specific locations such as church or in the home.
Aupito said Cook Islands Maori is part of New Zealand’s Pacific language heritage and it is preserved.
He said almost 62,000 people identified as Cook Islanders in the last New Zealand census while the population back in the islands is just over 17,000.
“The last census also indicates that language use has dropped from 17.8 percent to 13.1 percent amongst those identifying as Cook Islanders and that’s a trend I want to see reversed,” he said.