Cook Islands Language

Cook Islands language is similar to that found on many of the Pacific Islands. There are a total of five living languages spoken in the Cook Islands however it may surprise you to learn that aside from Cook Islands Maori, English is the other official Cook Islands language. Therefore it is not essential to learn the Cook Islands language if you plan on visiting for a holiday, however if you're simply interested in broadening your vocabulary, it can be a very fun way to interact with the locals who will really appreciate your effort.

Cook Islands Maori is also known as Rarotongan, named after the island's capital, and is the most commonly spoken form of Maori. However native Cook Islanders more often refer to is as Te reo Ipukarea which quite literally translates to 'the language of the Ancestral Homeland'. In 2003, Cook Islands Maori was named as an official Cook Islands language and is most closely related to New Zealand and Tahitian Maori. It is estimated that approximately 42,700 people speak it, including the Cook Islanders on the islands of Aitutaki, Atiu, Mangaia, Mitiaro and Mauke.

All islands have different accents and a some unique words or way of saying things. For example, thank you very much transforms from simply 'meitaki maata' on Rarotonga to meitaki atupaka on Aitutaki, meitaki ngao on Mangaia, meitaki nui on Mauke and meitaki polea on Penrhyn. The following is a selection of common words and phrases translated into the most common form of Cook Islands language, Cook Islands Maori.

Common Words & Phrases

Hello: Kia orana

Goodbye: Aere ra

Yes: 'Ae

No: Kare

Thank you: Meitaki

Woman: Vaine

Man: Tane

Pretty/Handsome: Manea

Happy: Mataora

To Dance: 'Ura

Today: Teia ra

Tomorrow: Apopo

Food: Kai

Sun: Ra

Moon: Marama

Mountain: Maunga

Ocean: Moana