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Goff welcomes Cook Islands Maori curriculum

Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade

27 July 2004
Media statement

Goff welcomes Cook Islands Maori curriculum

Today's launch of a Cook Islands Maori curriculum is a major milestone for New Zealand's Cook Islands community, says Pacific Island Affairs Minister Phil Goff.

"Cook Islanders are the second-largest Pacific ethnic group in New Zealand, and they make an important contribution to our identity as a Pacific nation," Mr Goff said.

"Establishing a curriculum for the teaching of Cook Islands Maori in our schools and pre-schools is an important step towards ensuring the Cook Islands community here is able to retain and revitalise its unique culture and identity."

Mr Goff said Cook Islands Maori added to a growing list of Pacific languages being taught in New Zealand schools. Niuean, Fijian and Samoan are already established, while curricula are being developed for Niuean, Tokelauan, and Tongan.

"The government believes the teaching of Pacific languages has an important place in the New Zealand education system. One in three children from pre-school through to high school is of Pacific or Maori descent, and research shows that students respond well to learning when their language and culture is being recognised and valued.

"However statistics in the late 1990s found that for a number of Pacific languages, including Cook Islands Maori, less than 20 per cent of children under five that could speak their own language.

"The government is committed to doing all it can to encourage Pasifika students to stay tuned in to education, so they can reach their full potential. Offering them the chance to become proficient in their own language is one way of helping some to gain confidence in other areas of study where they may be struggling," Mr Goff said.

The Cook Islands Maori curriculum was developed by the Ministry of Education, with the support of the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs and the Cook Islands Ministry of Education. It is available on www.tki.org.nz

ENDS

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