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Is our language at risk of disappearing?

Wednesday 3 July 2024 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Education, National

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Is our language at risk of disappearing?
In celebrating Epetoma ō te reo Māori Kūki 'Āirani, a robust debate programme was held at the Are Karioi Nui. Pictured are two of the debate teams, from left: Mapu Taurekareka O Nikao – Anjima Ruarau, Ben Patia and Kuraiti Rasmussen; Pa Enua – Toka Toka, Kairua Mataio and Danielle Nimeti. MELINA ETCHES/24070209

A United Nations agency says te reo Māori Kūki' Āirani is decreasing at an accelerating pace and is at risk of disappearing as more Cook Islanders shift their preference from their native tongue to English.

To dire warning comes from the Oceania Endangered Languages division of UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation   

“Kua tumatetenga te ngakau i te kite anga e ko te Kuki Airani tetai i runga i teia akapapa’anga  ko tatou tetai i runga  te tareanga taito te vaitata to tatou reo i te ngaro,” said Emile Kairua, Secretary of Tauranga Vananga in his opening for 'Epetoma ō te reo Māori Kūki 'Āirani programme yesterday.

Kairua expressed that the ministry is encouraged to improve and assist with the teaching and practice of reo Māori.

Robust dialogue between four debate teams on the topic was held at Are Karioi Nui yesterday.

The debate teams were: Mapu Taurekareka O Nikao - Anjima Ruarau, Ben Patia and Kuraiti Rasmussen; Pa Enua – Toka, Kairua Mataio and Danielle Nimeti;  Rangiatea Matavera – Danny Areai, Uirangi Bishop and Papa Terai Williams; Vaka Puaikura – Tuaine Manavaroa, Ngatokorua Tupuna and Tamaiva Mateariki.

This morning the Secondary Schools will compete in the pe’e (chant) and purua (poem) category which starts at 10am inside Are Karioi Nui. Everyone is welcome to attend the activities.

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