Published April 17, 2020
This video was recorded by Elena Rivera in Long Beach, California. Cook Islands Maori, also known as Rarotongan or Kuki Airani, is primarily spoken in the Cook Islands of New Zealand and includes several varieties, the Southern branch of which is spoken in this video. The people of Cook Islands consider the islands as their national identity, however their citizenship is legally that of New Zealand. Their language is closely related to, and partially intelligible with Tahitian and New Zealand Maori, and also connected to Hawaiian as a Polynesian language. The southern branch of Cook Islands Maori includes six recognized dialects: Aitutaki, Atiu, Mangaia, Mauke, Mitiaro, and Rarotonga. Cook Islands Maori was granted official status in the Cook Islands in 2003, where previously only English held that title. Rarotonga is spoken by around 39,000 people internationally, 13,000 in the Cook Islands, and is said to be decreasing. It is a Central Eastern Polynesian language within the Malayo-Polynesian branch of the Austronesian language family.