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Sunday, July 24, 2016
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Polynesians comprise 81% of the country's population, with mixed Polynesian and other races comprising almost 16% and Europeans and other races about 3%. While 18,000 Cook Islanders live in the Islands, about 37,000 more live in New Zealand. Cook Islanders are closely related to the Maori of New Zealand, the Maohi of French Polynesia, the Maori of Easter Island and the Kanaka Maoli of Hawaii. As such, they also have a chiefly system based on traditional legends of migration and settlement, where allegiance to chiefs is paramount and a man is measured by his deeds.
LANGUAGE & EDUCATION
English is the official language, but the locals also speak Cook Islands' Maori, of which there are a few dialects. The Islands of Pukapuka and Nassau in the north have their own, Samoan-influenced language.
Education is highly valued, and most children attend primary school at least. The country has a 99% literacy rate.
Like many Pacific Island nations, Cook Islanders embraced Christianity and are now a very religious people whose faith has become integral to daily life. Much of the community's social life is centred on the church, and Sunday is kept as a day of worship and rest.
Almost two-thirds of the people belong to the Cook Islands Christian Church, with Roman Catholics, Latter Day Saints, Seventh Day Adventists, Assemblies of God and Baha'i also represented. The congregation is always dressed smartly, with the women wearing white dresses and their distinctive rito hats. The pre-European religion of the Cook Islanders had 71 gods who resided with the spirits in 12 heavens - 7 above the sun and 5 below it.