Data helps Cook Islands Māori thrive into the next generation Hei āwhina tēnei mea te raraunga i te reo Māori Kuki Airani kia ora tonu i roto i te whakatupuranga hou

Census data helped the Cook Islands Development Agency New Zealand (CIDANZ) open a learning centre focused on ensuring the Cook Islands Māori language (te reo Māori Kūki 'Āirani) thrives for generations to come.

South Auckland - CIDANZ - Value of Data

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CIDANZ, based in South Auckland, aims to increase the area's social and economic development towards a unified and prosperous Cook Islands community. Data, including census data, underpins and guides a lot of the agency's initiatives.

"We use data to inform ourselves of our community's needs and the direction we should take to address those needs. We use it to build programmes and secure the funding, support and resources we need to better serve the needs of our families," says Rouruina Emil'e-Brown, CEO of CIDANZ.

This approach was fundamental to CIDANZ's role in opening the Ta'i Tamaiti Turanga Rangatira Early Learning Centre in May 2022. CIDANZ saw data showing that the number of early childhood education (ECE) centres in New Zealand teaching Cook Islands Māori had dropped by 58 percent.

"Data told us that our te reo Māori Kūki 'Āirani – our Cook Islands language – was dying," says Emil'e-Brown.

"The declining use of te reo from our Cook Islands population signalled that we would quickly lose our language if we did not intervene, and if we didn't reset or start deliberate action on the revitalisation and utilisation of te reo.

"Data also revealed the percentage of our decline by age, and the fluency in our homes."

This information helped CIDANZ build an "evidence-based case" in its successful application for "a total immersion Cook Islands Māori early childhood learning centre" – the first in New Zealand. Through the funding provided by the Ministry of Education, the vision of an ECE facility in Mangere – with capacity for 60 children – became a reality.

Now, Cook Islands tamariki and pepe will be able to learn their parents' language and connect more deeply with their heritage and culture.

"As a total immersion centre, we ensure our children get the best start. They will then leave confident and fluent in their reo and culture. Our language lives on through the children in our centre," says Emil'e-Brown.

Emil'e-Brown is adamant that data is crucial to the strategic direction of CIDANZ and similar organisations.

"What we know today better prepares us to address the needs, dreams, and aspirations of our people, so they can live here more progressively and prosper in the land that they now call home."

Rouruina Emil'e-Brown, CEO, Cook Islands Development Agency New Zealand

Learn more about CIDANZ

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