Kia orana, it’s been Cook Islands language week and it’s been so neat to note the different celebrations that have been about in various communities and throughout social media highlighting the importance of the Cook Islands languages, cultures and music/entertainment etc.

It’s definitely overdue for me and my family to visit the Cook Islands as I last visited it in the 1990s and with having grown up at the PIC church in having a village community of Niuean, Cook Islanders and Samoans worshipping together with English being the main language of intercultural communication, it made for a very interesting childhood surrounded by music, languages and sounds that became familiar but were not of my own cultural heritage.

So I got to taste puke (a banana delicacy with coconut cream), Cook Islands mayonnaise (i.e. potato salad) and especially the pink beetroot version, cook islands donuts that are sold locally and often taken on trips as a snack including the giant donuts etc. Not to mention their amazing lyrical ukuleles and amazing voices in the meke and tivaevae – Cook Islands quilts which replaced the tapa making with the arrival of the missionaries etc.

Which is why it’s so important for having an understanding of the distinctions between the various Pacific cultures and even within the Cook Islands as each of the 15 islands have distinct dialects or languages, cultural practices etc. Pukapuka being closer to Samoa and Tonga with Aitutaki being of the islands that I would love to visit.

Perhaps what Cook Islands culture is known all over the world for is not only their amazing tranquil beach scenes but also their drum dance with their women expertly moving their hips vigously to the sound of the drums and their men dancing with unfamiliar leg movements to the novice.

It’s definitely entertaining to watch unfamiliar and unsuspecting adults from other cultures being called up to dance by an expert dance partner from the opposite sex in their entertaining ‘around the world’ drum dance whereupon each couple is asked to dance in the middle of a dance circle to the sound of the drums. So if you haven’t experienced this, I would highly recommend it.

Happy Cook Islands language week everybody. Meitaki (thank you)…

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