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When you visit New Zealand you will immediately become aware of the Māori language, as the vast majority of place names are indigenous. At first you may be puzzled by the seemingly impossible-to-pronounce names. In fact, Māori has a logical structure and, unlike English, has very consistent rules of pronunciation.
How do you say Onehunga, Whangamomona and Nguru?
The Māori language consists of five vowel sounds: a e i o u (‘a’ as in ‘car’, ‘e’ as in ‘egg’, ‘i’ like the ‘ee’ in ‘tee’, ‘o’ as in ‘four’, ‘u’ like an ‘o’ in ‘to’). There are eight consonants in Māori similar to those in English — ‘h’, ‘k’, ‘m’, ‘n’, ‘p’, ‘r’, ‘t’, and ‘w’. There are also two different consonants — ‘wh’ and ‘ng’. Many Māori pronounce the ‘wh’ sound similar to our ‘f’. The ‘ng’ is similar to our own ‘ng’ sound in a word like ‘sing’, except that in Māori, words can start with ‘ng’.
Kia ora = Hello in the Māori language
Try these expressions:
|Kia ora tatou||Hello everyone|
|Tēnā koe||Greetings to you (said to one person)|
|Tēnā koutou||Greetings to you (said to three or more people)|
|Nau mai, haere mai||Welcome|
|Kei te pehea koe?||How’s it going?|
|Kei te pai||Good|
|Tino pai||Really good|
|Ka kite anō||See you again|
Māori language revival
The Māori language is considered a national taonga (treasure) and is spoken by around 23 percent of New Zealanders. The language is undergoing a revival, with initiatives like Māori Language Week, Māori language schools (from pre-school through to high school) and a Māori language television station all playing a role in growing Te Reo.