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Cook Islands Maori language boost

27 July 2004

Cook Islands Maori language boost

The Cook Islands Maori language will get a significant boost with the official launch today of the Cook Islands Maori Curriculum, Education Minister Trevor Mallard said.

"This is a major event for the Cooks Islands and Pacific Islands communities in New Zealand," Trevor Mallard said at the launch of the curriculum at Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate in Otara.

"Cook Islands Maori is the second largest Pacific ethnic group living in New Zealand, and the language is a precious gift from the Cook Islands community to New Zealanders.

"Research shows that if a student knows their first language well, then it helps when learning a second language. We also know that students respond well to their home, community and language being recognized and valued.

"And as a government we are committed to doing everything we can to make sure students stay tuned in to and enthused about education.

"We also know that all students benefit from learning another language. It broadens students’ general language abilities and brings their own language into sharper focus. It also gives students insights into and understandings of other cultures.

"Work is underway as part of the curriculum project to raise the status of second language learning so that within four years, all schools will be required to offer second language learning options to year 7 to 10 students."

The curriculum resource is designed to assist and support teachers in the planning and delivery of effective Cook Islands Maori language programmes in early childhood settings and schools.

Development of these guidelines began in 1998, in response to statistics that showed that across a number of Pacific languages including Cook Islands Maori, there were less than 20 per cent of children under the age of five that could speak their own language.

Nearly one-third of all students involved in education from early childhood through to secondary school are of Maori or Pacific Island descent.

The Ministry of Education developed the curriculum with the support of the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs, the Cook Islands Ministry of Education and considerable community consultation. It was produced by Learning Media.

Work is now underway on developing curricula for Niuean, Tokelauan, and Tongan.

Trevor Mallard also launched Discovering Our Ancestors and Hawaiki; two books which explore the origin and spread of Polynesian peoples across the Pacific and were developed with the assistance of the UNESCO Participation Programme.
The Cook Islands Maori Curriculum is available on www.tki.org.nz


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