Rarotongan is the official language that is spoken in the Cook Islands. It is also spoken in New Zealand, Australia, and in French Polynesia. Rarotongan is a Polynesian language that is spoken by approximately 42,000 people. The Rarotongan language is closely related to the New Zealand Maori language and Tahitian. There is a degree of intelligibility between these languages and Rarotongan. It also has some lexical similarity with Hawaiian, Marquesan and Mangareva. Rarotongan became the official language of the Cook Island in 2003. This includes both the written and the spoken versions. The Pukapukan is also considered to be part of Rarotongan language. Pukapukan is the language that is spoken in the 3 atolls of Tokelau. It is closely related to the Samoan language. The Rarotongan language is regulated by the kopapa reo, which was also created in 2003.
Other names that are used for the Rarotongan language includes Cook Islands, Cook Islands Maori, Maori, Kuki Airani and Rarotongan-Mangaian. Most people who live in the Cook Islands refer to the language as Te reo Ipukarea, this translates to ‘the language of our ancestral home’. The language has 5 main dialects. This includes Aitukaki, Mauke, Atiu, Mitiaro and Mangaia. The major difference in the dialects is the accents used and the vocabularies, which tend to differ.
Rarotongan is considered to be a vulnerable language. The younger generation of Rarotongan speakers prefer to use the English language. The Latin script is used to write the language. There is still an ongoing debate about the standardization of the writing system used. Diacritics are used when writing this language.