The Rarotongan Basic Phrase Book is the outcome of a great idea by its authors, all of them year 13 Tereora business students.
Three other teams entered and their teacher Taiti Hosking says they were all worthy of praise. The other teams presented a Cook Islands traditional foods recipe book, a block-painted bed set package, and t-shirts in four different colours for the school’s four anau or “families”. These products will also be launched later this month.
The pocket-sized phrase book contains everything a non-speaker or partial speaker needs to get started communicating in Maori, with everyday phrases and interpretations. There are also pages dedicated to the alphabet, vowels, grammar, phonics, numbers and more.
“We wanted to make it as easy as possible for people to follow and to satisfy the market in that way, but mostly the idea is to maintain the language,” says the chief executive of the team responsible for the book, Kavika Nicholas.
“I loved the whole idea of a phrase book. I can see it expanding into the New Zealand school market where Cook Islanders make up big populations of students. They are saturated with the English language and this would be a way for them to keep up conversations with their parents,” says Hosking.
“I can also see it being used by the tourism industry. It would be a great tool for tourists to carry around with them. They usually are keen to learn bits of the language. I’m really proud of these kids, and their mentors, who were also former students of mine.”
Accounting teacher Christina Ganivatu says as tourism is the backbone of the country, the book will fit well in that sector. With the competition, we are looking for children to pick up on the skills and language around creating a business that they can take with them into the future. Here they have created a business that matters and they should be proud of themselves.” She says the book could be left in hotel rooms or lobbies and even on airliners flying into Rarotonga.
Opening the evening, the teams’ mentor and 2016 winner, Teau Puna Vano gave a Pe’e traditional Rakahanga chant “Wherever you may go.”
Her and fellow mentor Marise Noovao designed navy blue bucket hats, along with school logo, for their winning 2016 Dragon’s Den entry and Tereora students are still wearing them.
Now Teau is studying at USP and working on her SELT designs embroidered hat business while Marise is working in economic management for the Ministry of Finance.
Marise says “this book is the genuine product, developed here in the Cook Islands, by Cook Islanders.”
Nicholas says the process was long and interesting.
“We had to produce a product, make up a marketing plan, a business plan, then create it, have it checked, get it printed. There was a lot to it. Now we hope to take it out to the world and expand our marketing further.
“This is a special night for us. All the fighting, and love, it has all been worth it and it’s culminated in this moment now.”
“We wanted to do something to help nurture the language,” says production director Emillienne Pauka.
“As we feel (the language) may be slowly fading away, that’s a concern. We need to preserve our mother tongue. Our book matters, our language matters.”
The group thanked those who helped make the book a reality, including Cook Islands Printing, Vai Papatua for editing the book and BCI Bank who gave the winning team a $1,000 grant.
The book is easy to handle, easy to read, is clear, concise and accurate and people can purchase it for themselves, or to send offshore as gifts, from Tereora school or their Facebook page, “Korero with me” for just $10.