Mangarongaro, Penrhynese, Tongareva
Native toCook Islands
RegionPenrhyn Island, Northern Cook Islands
Native speakers
200 (2011 census)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3pnh
Penrhyn is classified as Severely Endangered by the UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger

The Penrhyn language is a Cook Islands Maori dialectal variant[2] belonging to the Polynesian language family. It is spoken by about 200 people on Penrhyn Island and other islands in the Northern Cook Islands.[3] It is considered to be an endangered language as many of its users are shifting to Cook Islands Māori and English.


Main article: Cook Islands Maori § Writing system and pronunciation


The alphabet used in the Penrhyn Dictionary has 21 letters: ⟨a, ā, e, ē, f, h, i, ī, k, m, n, ng, o, ō, p, r, s, t, u, ū, v⟩[4]

Long vowels are written with a macron.


Consonants in Penrhyn
Labial Alveolar Velar Glottal
Nasal m n ŋ ⟨ng⟩
Stop p t k
Fricative (f)[a] v s h
Liquid l ⟨r⟩
  1. ^ [f] is present in loanwords from languages like Rakahanga-Manihiki and Tahitian.

Tongareva is one of the few Cook Islands languages without a glottal stop [ʔ]. There is allophonic voicing of stops present.[4]


Main article: Cook Islands Maori § Grammar


  1. ^ Penrhyn at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  2. ^ Te Reo Maori Act 2003 – via
  3. ^ "Penrhyn". Ethnologue. Retrieved 7 March 2013.
  4. ^ a b "About - Penrhyn Dictionary". Dictionary of Cook Islands Languages.

Further reading