My grandmother is a Cook Islander and my grandfather was a Papa’a (NZ European). Both of them could speak fluent Cook Island Māori. As a child I would hear them speaking to each other in this language. As I was nearing the end of my primary school years I became more and more curious as to what it was they were saying when speaking in Cook Island Māori. So I took on the challenge of learning the language myself. As the years went by I could eventually hold full conversations with my grandparents in Cook Island Māori.
The Cook Island Māori language holds significance in my immediate family as my grandmother and I are now the only ones who speak it since my grandfather’s passing in 2016. I have unknowingly helped carry on an important aspect of my grandmother’s life. The feeling of happiness and satisfaction I get when speaking to my extended family, or even just my grandmother, is all because we are speaking in OUR special language. I get an overwhelming feeling of fellowship and love when I hear our language being spoken by others. The language is something I hold close to my heart. For people who feel ashamed for not knowing their mother tongue, it is never too late to learn.
Kia Orana e Kia Manuia
Josua Isaac Owen Sullivan Te Maru Ariki Houghton