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Young people call for action to strengthen heritage connection

Kia Orana! This week we invite you to join us in celebrating Cook Island Language Week (Epetoma o te reo Māori Kūki ‘Āirani).

This year’s theme is ‘Ātuitui’ia au ki te Oneone o tōku ‘Ui Tupuna which means, connect me to the soil of my ancestors.

The theme reflects on the journey of Cook Islands peoples in New Zealand, as well as the longing of young Cook Islanders to connect with their language, culture, and identity. Acknowledging that while community elders are fundamental to the teaching and sharing of Cook Islands language, the leadership of young people as the next wave of cultural and language experts is also critical in keeping the connection to their homelands alive.

The theme also reflects on the overarching 2021 Pacific Language Week theme of Wellbeing, by linking the importance of language to overall wellbeing.

The Minister for Pacific Peoples, Hon Aupito William Sio said while launching the week that this theme was especially important as it was chosen by our young people in the Cook Islands community “I’ve always said that young people are the gatekeepers of our collective futures, and investment in them is a step towards a world we want to continue after we’re gone …

“We must proactively nurture the language so our NZ-born Cook Islanders have a sense of their linguistic and cultural heritage all year round. Pacific Weeks are more than about each ethnic group celebrating their language, they’re an opportunity for the rest of the country to appreciate and learn more about their Pacific neighbours.”

Mr Sio said his hope for this week is that NZ joins with the Cook Island community as they take up the young peoples’ call for action to strengthen their connection to their heritage.

Click HERE to see some of the activities and key events for the week.