The first aim of the Ministry of Cultural Development’s Natural Cultural Policy is to increase the number of Cook Islanders using the Maori language, or any of its dialects, in their homes.
Step one will involve establishing the infrastructure to make this possible.
The value of using the language will be promoted, resources developed and distributed, and programmes developed and delivered to encourage the use of Cook Islands Maori in the home. Resources will particularly target children before they start school.
The aim is to integrate te reo into the Cook Islands lifestyle, and encourage Cook Islands Maori to be used as the primary home language in daily conversations and during special family activities.
Of the four strategic areas identified, the home has number one priority.
Babies and toddlers are the primary focus, as programmes will be developed to reintroduce chanting and singing.
The possibility of including in bylaws the use of the Cook Islands Maori language and dialects at island gatherings will also be investigated.
Other proven methods for introducing sounds and languages to babies and toddlers will be researched, and the effectiveness of these strategies will be monitored and evaluated, to be updated if necessary.
The second strategic area to be targeted is schools, and the MOCD and Education will work together to review the effectiveness of current Maori programmes in schools, with the aim of strengthening them.
Gaming software will also be developed as a means to draw student interest, and language and culture will be incorporated to be a part of school qualifications.
In the workplace, a system will be implemented for public servants to teach them a high level of conversational Maori six months after taking their posts.
Both Cook Islands Maori and English will be afforded the same status, and all official documents written in English will also be written in Maori.
Cook Islands protocols and culture will also be practised at official functions, and an increased awareness, appreciation and values of the culture will be shown by setting aside one day a month as “Maori day”.
In general, adults will be expected to eventually be able to converse in Cook Islands Maori.
Technical applications to provide relevant Maori phrases for use in the home and the community, as well as programmes to help parents assist their children, will also be developed.
The Cultural Development ministry says the desired outcome is for more than 90 per cent of Cook Islands people to use Cook Islands Maori language or any of its dialects in their daily conversation and around their homes.