Today’s letter is R, for the language Rarotongan.
Rarotongan is a language spoken by around 39,000 people, many of whom (13,000) live on the Cook Islands, near New Zealand. The language is classed as vulnerable at this point in time; however, Wurm (2007) has stated that the number of speakers is decreasing.
Rarotongan is an official language of the Cook Islands, alongside English – it was made an official language in 2003. This indicates positive attitudes amongst the Cook Islanders in regards to their language, and a desire to ensure its survival, but English is already prevalent among the islanders and, again according to Wurm, is preferred by the younger generation. This, alongside the fact that Rarotongan is used only in a limited capacity in higher government, indicates that there will need to be some serious efforts made to maintain the language.
Resources for learning Rarotongan