Celebrating the Cook Islands
Cook Islands Maori was celebrated with dancing and drumming at Aotea College last Wednesday.
Students and their families from Aotea and Porirua colleges gathered to mark the second annual Te Epetoma o te Reo Maori Kuki Airani.
Cook Islands high commissioner Tekaotiki Matapo was the guest of honour at the celebration and, like principals of both colleges, he was encouraged on to the dance floor on several occasions, to the sound of Porirua College’s drum ensemble.
‘‘This morning I’m really privileged and honoured to be here. It was really warm and touching for me,’’ he told a crowd of 200 gathered in the college hall.
‘‘Language is the legacy of our ancestors.’’
Aotea College principal Kate Gainsford praised the language skills of her students.
‘‘ You can’t separate the values you’ve been taught from the language you’ve been taught,’’ she said.
‘‘ We’re celebrating the importance of being connected to your families, to your culture, to your community and your school. Those connections stay strong for life.’’
Porirua College was the only high school in the lower North Island to teach Cook Islands Maori, despite a lack of support from the Ministry of Education, its principal Suzanne Jungersen said.
‘‘We’re supporting the reo practically and actually.’’
Finishing flourish: Aotea College year 11 student Tipapa Bracken danced back to her seat after giving a speech about her culture.