Pukapukan is a Polynesian language that developed in isolation on the island of Pukapuka (Danger Island) in the northern group of the Cook Islands. As a "Samoic Outlier" language with strong links to western Polynesia, Pukapukan is not closely related to any other languages of the Cook Islands, but does manifest substantial borrowing from some East Polynesian source in antiquity. Recent research suggests that the languages of Pukapuka, Tokelau and Tuvalu group together as a cluster, and as such had significant influence on several of the Polynesian Outliers, such as Tikopia and Anuta, Pileni, Sikaiana(all in the Solomon Islands) and Takuu (off the coast of Bougainville, PNG). There is also evidence that Pukapuka had prehistoric contact with Micronesia, as there are quite a number of words in Pukapukan that appear to be borrowings from Kiribati (K. & M. Salisbury conference paper, 2013).
Pukapukan is also known as "te leo Wale" ('the language of Home') in reference to the name of the northern islet where the people live. The atoll population has declined from some 750 in the early 1990s to less than 500 since the cyclone in 2005. Literacy in the Pukapukan language was introduced in the school in the 1980s, resulting in an improvement in the quality of education on the atoll.
The language is spoken by over 4,000 people, the vast majority living in a number of migrant communities in New Zealand and Australia. A bilingual dictionary was started by the school teachers on the island and completed in Auckland within the Pukapukan community there (publication date 2013; URL http://www.massey.ac.nz/~bwhite/PukapukaLexicon/lexicon/). An indepth study of the language has resulted in a reference grammar (Mary Salisbury, A Grammar of Pukapukan, University of Auckland, 2003 700pp.). The most significant publication in the Pukapuka language will be the "Puka Yaa" (Bible), with the New Testament expected to be completed for publishing in 2013.