Anthony Turua. Picture: Picture: SUSAN LOVE DE MIGUEL/22120220
Secretary of Cultural Development Anthony Turua said if one did not know their Cook Islands language, then they are not a Cook Islander.
Turua while speaking at the Cook Islands National
Feminist Forum held at The Edgewater Resort and Spa last week said his ministry
wanted Cook Islands people to value their language.
There are about 85,000 Cook Islanders in New
Zealand “who are wanting to learn the language”.
to Turua, who recently returned from Wellington, 60 per cent of these Cook
Islanders in New Zealand are youths “who are crying to learn the language and
University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Cook
Islands campus director, Dr Debbie Futter-Puati said Cook Islands Maori
language needed to be taught in schools.
Futter-Puati said parents should demand that the
language course must be provided for Cook Islands children.
“We don’t have schools implementing a language
policy that says up until the end of Grade 3 everything will be taught in Maori,
Futter-Puati said she understood the complexity behind it
and that a good teacher education programme was needed.
“If we don’t have teachers that can do this, the policy can’t be practiced
because as cultural expert Jackie Tuara pointed out three
generations have been denied this part of their education.”
However, Futter-Puati disagreed with Turua’s comments that those
who did not know their Cook Islands language should not be considered a Cook
says after the age of eight it is difficult for one to learn their mother
tongue. And if one knew their mother tongue from a young age then learning a
second language would be easy, she added.
problem in the Cook Islands is that people are never in a situation where one
is forced to converse in Maori.” she added.
Hereiti File, who is learning Te Reo Maori, asked the panelists what can be
done to create a curriculum in primary and secondary school education levels.
also said that when she sat for the NCEA (National Certificate of Educational
Achievement), the exam was all about
New Zealand history and asked what can be done to apply Cook Islands context to
such external exams.
expert Jackie Tuara said parents needed to do their part. “If parents can speak
the language then teach their children and if they cannot then they must learn
with their children.”
also said that the Cook Islands language can be taught from Early Childhood
Education level if a teacher is available to teach the language.