8 Aug 2016

Cooks language survival down to the youth

1:17 pm on 8 August 2016

Hopes for the survival of the Cook Islands language are pinned on the youngest generation.

Children at Te Punanga o Te Reo Kuki Airani in Wellington celebrated New Zealand's Cook Island language week by weaving, dancing, singing, and eating in Cook Island style.

Head teacher at te Punanga o te Reo Kuki Airani Bridget Kauraka (left) and the Cook Islands High Commissioner to New Zeland, Teremoana Yala (right).

Head teacher at te Punanga o te Reo Kuki Airani Bridget Kauraka (left) and the Cook Islands High Commissioner to New Zeland, Teremoana Yala (right). Photo: RNZ/Daniela Maoate-Cox

The number of Cook Island Maori speakers has declined over the past few decades with only 13 percent of New Zealand's Cook Island community saying they could speak te reo.

The Cook Islands High Commissioner to New Zealand Teremoana Yala, who helped children at Te Punanga mash some bananas for a smoothie, said it was heartening to see the youth speaking the language.

"When I came in and they were singing read your bible and you grow everyday, and then I love the interaction, you say kia orana to them and they say back to you kia orana."

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