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Te Reo Māori - the Māori Language
Visitors to New Zealand will become immediately aware of the Maori 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, Maori has a logical structure and, unlike English, has very consistent rules of pronunciation.
How do you say Onehunga, Whangamomona and Nguru?
Maori 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 Maori similar to those in English — ‘h’, ‘k’, ‘m’, ‘n’, ‘p’, ‘r’, ‘t’, and ‘w’. There are also two different consonants — ‘wh’ and ‘ng’. Many Maori 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 Maori, words can start with ‘ng’.
Kia ora = Hello in Maori!
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|
Maori 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.
Being a tribal Polynesian people, Māori have unique traditions. These can be observed throughout New Zealand by visiting marae, craft workshops, museums and galleries, and cultural shows.
Welcome to the marae
The best place to observe Māori traditions is on a marae (meeting grounds). Many tourist operators in New Zealand organise visits to marae, which usually include a pōwhiri or traditional welcome ceremony followed by delicious Māori food. During the pōwhiri, visitors will be formally called onto the marae and hear speeches and songs in the Māori language before greeting their hosts with a hongi (touching of noses).
Toi Māori - culture and the arts
From ancient times Māori knowledge has been passed down from generation to generation through music, arts and crafts, story-telling and reciting of whakapapa genealogies. Traditions such as carving, weaving and tā moko (tattoo) are still practised throughout the country. Kapa haka (group performance) which incorporates harmonious singing, rhythmic dancing and ferocious Māori war dances or haka, is a must-see for any visitor.
Māori Stories and Legends
Māori culture is rich with stories and legends. The creation of New Zealand is described by the legend of Māui. The demi-god Māui went fishing one day and, using his magic hook, caught a very big fish – so big it took all the strength of Māui and his four brothers to haul it up. That fish is said to be the North Island, with its tail in the north and its head in the south.