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What is a Cook Islander?

Tuesday 20 December 2022 | Written by Supplied | Published in Letters to the Editor, National, Opinion

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What is a Cook Islander?

Dear Editor, A bit harsh to say that your identity will depend on one knowing the language (Cook Islands people need to value their language: Turua, Cook Islands News, December 6, 2022).

Which language? The Rarotongan or the Penrhyn language. Would that mean our sports teams representing us must know the language?

It’s another thing to encourage others to learn the language or to say they are not Kuki if they can’t hold full discussion in our language. What if they can learn the basics? Are they Kuki if they to?

Is he pushing to change our name - Cook Islands, since it is not our own Maori name? That name was a foreign name and we did not ask for it, but we continue to use it, still being under the thumb of the colonial hunger for power.

U Joseph Isaia

(Facebook)

Unless you’re related to me and know my papa’anga, you have no right to define me as a person or my cultural ties/ethnicity based solely on my ability to speak to tatou reo kuki airani Maori.

I’m Kiwi born and raised but, made in Raro. I also don’t need someone telling me I should value our culture or reo, I already do. I’m so proud to be Kuki and not because someone tells me to be. Even though I was born here, I grew up hearing stories from back there and before I finally got here, I already had a connection to Rarotonga.

Fast forward to 34 years of age, I finally made it with my mum and my 11-year-old daughter for a whole month. It felt like going home. Yes, I am trying to learn the reo and build up my confidence as well as teach my girl. This is all because I want to, because like many of our people, it is important to us. Not because someone told us, because we feel it within ourselves.

Instead of talking down to people, encourage and uplift the people!

Vellencia Tangi

(Facebook)

Being raised in the USA as a non-Cook Islander, I grew up with many kids who were third and fourth generation Chinese and Japanese. They may not have known their ancestral languages, but culturally, they knew and lived their cultural values and rituals. And for the record, my Cook Islands husband occasionally comments that from a cultural (not linguistic) point of view, that I am more a “Cook Islander” than some blood quantum, language-speaking Cook Islanders…

Cindy Cowell-Tongia

(Facebook)

I cannot for the life of me understand why it can’t be part of Te Kopapa Reo Maori’s job description/objective (I think that’s what they are called? Correct me if I am wrong), to also teach reo Maori – not just come up with new Maori words. I mean they have the best people there for the job and does coming up with new words for a language that already exists really take up so much of their time? If there are budget restraints, then increase the budget for what should be their number one priority especially with comments like, “if one does not know their Cook Islands language then they are not a Cook Islander”.

Jax Tuara

(Facebook)

I guess this notion of speaking te reo Maori would disqualify Palmerston Island people from being Cook Islanders. Historically they have only spoken English. Our children are being taught Maori in school and that’s a good thing, but I don’t think as a group of people, we could say that Maori is our first language. I hope it’s a misquote in the article and not his intentions as reported. William Marsters would have a very colourful rejoinder to this idea, I think. We have a coral head in the lagoon named for his remark upon being able to beat upwind of it and not wrecked on it while sailing in the lagoon. It starts with “Kiss …”

Stella Neale

(Facebook)