The digitisation of the Buse Cook Islands Maori Dictionary has been a joint project between Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand, USP in the Cook Islands, the tumu korero and the Cook Islands Ministry of Education.
Secretary of Education, Sharyn Paio says this project was driven by a strong desire by all these partners to make access to the Cook Islands language more accessible to Cook Islanders and others, both locally and abroad.
Throughout the project, Paio says there has been significant collaboration between all of the partners.
“All data had to be entered, checked and uploaded onto the website. Consultation with relevant communities, such as our tumu korero, was an essential part of this process to ensure the validity of information available.”
Users now also have online access to a website, cookislandsdictionary.com, which provides access to a range of Cook Islands dialects.
“We are especially grateful for the considerable work and sharing of traditional knowledge by the tumu korero from our sister islands,” says Paio.
Their knowledge and commitment to the project has assured its success culminating in the release of the digital application for android and i-phones, she says. Whilst other online dictionaries and one other application are available, Paio says this particular app, CI Dictionary, is unique in that it is available to users free of charge.
She says it also unique in that it offers translations from Cook Islands to English and vice-versa in a range of dialects.
Current and ongoing work on the project includes the addition of audio-visual support resources which will further enhance the tool as an educational and personal resource.
“ It is our hope that this tool will be successful in supporting the sustainability and future development of the Cook Islands Maori language.”