Te Wiki o te Reo Māori

This is Te Wiki o te Reo Māori – Māori language week.

The theme Kia ora te reo Māori was chosen to celebrate New Zealand’s indigenous greeting, and also as the words ‘Kia Ora’ are an exact description of the intent of the new partnerships for te reo Māori revitalisation between the Crown and Māori under the new Māori Language Act 2016.

http://www.tetaurawhiri.govt.nz/events-and-promotions/maori-language-week/

All of us are familiar with many Māori words, especially through place names – place names not only identify a place, they also describe something about that place.

Many of us have mangled Māori  words since we first mis-learnt them.

I grew up with virtually no Māori education, and with few Māori  names in the area that I lived. There was traditional argument over the pronunciation of Mt Pisa, but almost universal mangling of the Kawarau River – local use was Ka-warra. Correct pronunciation only became an issue with the influx of Clyde dam workers which markedly increased the number of Māori population (from hardly any to a few).

The Kawarau River is the main outflow from Lake Wakitipu and mostly winds through a gorge until it meets the Clutha River at Cromwell (I don’t know if there has ever been a Māori  name for The Junction).

Kawarau means ‘many shrubs’. Maybe there were many shrubs when it was named, but the banks and hills were quite bare in my youth until mainly briar gradually took hold.

Clutha was known as Mata-au – ‘ current or eddy in an expanse of water’. There were a lot of currents an eddies in the river, but many were reformed first by extensive dredging, and then with flooding for the Roxburgh and Clyde damns (aka dams).

Wider information on Māori  pronunciation at Stuff: Forecast: Bad pronunciation with a chance of bungles

“But that’s the way I’ve always said it!”

Whether it’s “Taw-po” or “Kye-cora”, so many of us mangle New Zealand’s Māori place names.

As part of Te Wiki o te reo Māori, Māori Language Week, we take a look at why we get it wrong, and try to help you to try to get it right.  Our video takes a look at the forecast for some of those we bungle the most. You can read all of the series here and we’ll be adding stories through the week.

It comes as Stuff adopts macrons on te reo Māori words. But it’s not just us. Google Maps last week promised it will start pronouncing Māori place names correctly by the end of the year.

Surprising that it is only now Stuff is adopting the use of macrons.

Why should we bother? Te Whainoa Te Wiata, a Māori language teacher at the University of Auckland, puts it best.

“People don’t realise how important pronunciation is to meaning,” he says. “There’s a reason for its Māori name.

Every place name has a story, every place name. I can’t stress that enough, every place name in New Zealand has a story.”

They give some place name examples.

TAUPO – Toe-paw (full Māori name Taupōnui-a-Tia)

ROTORUA – Roh-toh-roo-ah

WHANGAREI – Fhan-ga-rey

WHANGANUI – Fhan-ga-nuey

TIMARU – Tee-mah-ru

TAURANGA – Toe-rung-a

REMUERA – Reh-moo-air-ah

MATAMATA – Mutter-mutter

OAMARU – Aw-ah-mah-roo (full name Te Oha-a-Maru)

MOTUEKA – Maw-tu-eh-kah

WAIKATO – Why-cut-or

TE KAUWHATA – Teh-ko-fha-ta

ŌTAKI – Or-taki

PORIRUA – Paw-ree-roo-ah

MANUREWA – Ma-noo-rare-wah

So no more Papa-two-toes or Para-pram or Wack-a-wite.

People don’t like their own names being mispronounced. perhaps we should do more to acknowledge the true pronunciation and meaning of many of our place names.

But some variations need to be accepted, given that there are valid regional variations, for example Aoraki/Aorangi and Waitaki/Waitangi.

Leave a comment

46 Comments

  1. Corky

     /  September 11, 2017

    Ko te atahuua o tenei rangi.*

    * It was a beautiful day, until I heard Bernadine Oliver-Kirby this morning at six.

    My pet peeves.

    1- Paraparam – Paraparaumu
    2- Mt Monganui.-Mt Maunganui
    3- Ohpoeteakey- Opotiki
    4- Tekawaka- Tekauwhata
    5- Towelpoe- Taupo

    Words:

    Waitangy- Waitangi
    Farnua- Whanau
    Mowies- Maoris

    Maori have to put up with this disrespect everyday. It’s worse when it comes from English teachers who mangle Maori words. But before we get too precious, many Maori and non- Maori mangle the English language. In parts of New Zealand, knowing Pigeon English can be an advantage.

    Reply
    • Corky

       /  September 11, 2017

      Forgot the Peter Williams special- Tay instead of Te.

      Reply
      • phantom snowflake

         /  September 11, 2017

        Yeah what’s up with him? He’s been a newsreader and TV presenter since the year dot. Also Helen Clark, she’s still saying “FarNow” up til this very day. It’s ugly.

        Reply
    • PDB

       /  September 11, 2017

      Yep – English is butchered on a daily basis and hardly anybody gives a shit.

      Reply
      • Blazer

         /  September 11, 2017

        do you mean yes instead of…yep?

        Reply
      • Gezza

         /  September 11, 2017

        At a rough guess I estimate approximately half of the English can’t speak English, & about 45% of Londoners ‘dunno ‘ow to eever – yeh?’ 💂🏻

        Reply
      • “English is butchered on a daily basis and hardly anybody gives a shit.”

        This applies throughout the world, especially in England, and is one of the reasons it is so successful as a communicative language: it comes with no cultural baggage forcing folk to use words, phrases or pronunciations that are a nuisance; it can evolve. Even the Welsh – whose language zealots are renowned – took the hint from their neighbours and changed Llanfair­pwllgwyngyll­gogery­chwyrn­drobwll­llan­tysilio­gogo­goch to ‘Lanfair PG’ so that people could actually say it and it would fit on the railway timetable.

        I heard a Scottish Gaelic zealot being asked on local radio what jobs the Gaelic language would be useful for. After a long pause she stammered: “Teaching Gaelic.” There is a moral there, sadly demonstrated by the son of Welsh-speaking farmers I knew, who was denied entry to the police force – his lifelong dream – because his school had so strongly enforced Welsh that his English was too poor for acceptance.

        The moment a language ceases to help ordinary folk live their ordinary lives is the moment it will start to die. Keeping it alive then becomes a cultural issue. If this is recognised, and utilised accordingly (ie largely ceremonially), then it can survive, and even thrive. If, however, ordinary folk are cajoled, or forced into using it as everyday language it will be rejected, and will certainly die.

        A Scotsman once said to me: “Gaelic is ok if all you want to do in life is drive a dumper truck in a quarry on the Outer Isles.” A musician, however, will see it differently and sing it often, and greet and toast others with it; but he will not use it to buy a bus ticket, or apply for a job.

        Reply
        • Blazer

           /  September 11, 2017

          good summary there sailor…the use it or lose it …principle.

          Reply
          • Thank you. For all the talk of culture and respect etc, the bottom line of language is communication, is it not? Often when travelling the Continent as a young man I would be stopped when trying to converse in the local lingo by a polite “Please speak English as I think I will understand that better than your French/German/Italian or whatever” or often “Please speak English so I can practise it.” English was important to most Continentals, being so widely-spoken, which made other languages less important therefore to the English.

            But I am not an ‘English’ bigot. I learnt French, German, Latin and Russian at school. I adored French for its mellifluous, natural flowing quality and soon spoke it fluently, even thinking in it. I became so good I was allowed to sit at the back of the class reading French novels.

            Latin was interesting for all the language roots it supplied, and the screams of laughter one day when I raised my hand to ask the Latin word for television. German was hideously rigid, plug-n-playing its words like linguistic Lego, and I loathed it. Russian, while seeming gutteral, was actually a soft, sibilant language, which I also really liked, continuing with it when I joined the Navy.

            I also spoke Scouse* as a child growing up in Liverpool, but my middle-class parents soon beat that out of me. For which, I have to say now, I am eternally grateful as it endowed me with speech that was socially uncategorisable – a useful asset in Britain then. But that was all many years ago and – as you note – language atrophies quickly when you don’t use it, just like muscles.

            * an English dialect often described as a quarter Welsh, a quarter Irish, a quarter catarrh and a quarter laziness, seasoned with a sprinkle of the myriad foreign voices sailing into the port; something for the language purists to ponder on.

            Reply
    • Gezza

       /  September 11, 2017

      Key Owrah, Corks. ☘ 🌴

      Key a car hah E -hoer! 👍🏾 👍🏼

      Reply
    • lurcher1948

       /  September 11, 2017

      Right bro

      Reply
  2. NOEL

     /  September 11, 2017

    It will come. Took a few years you can now hear people in the rugby crowd singing the first verse of the anthem.

    Reply
  3. Blazer

     /  September 11, 2017

    Ingrid Hipkiss had the worst….Cow Ra….Turiana maintains whanau is wa now,not far now.

    Reply
  4. Ray

     /  September 11, 2017

    My pet peeve is the North Island Māori variants/dialects being imposed over the quite legitimate and much older South Island Māori words.

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  September 11, 2017

      are you bi lingual Ray?

      Reply
    • robertguyton

       /  September 11, 2017

      Fale for whare, Avalua/ Awarua, gohai for kowhai – some of the very old kupu down here ki te tonga are said as they were said in Rorotonga. In fact, Centre Island is named Rarotoka.

      Reply
  5. Ray

     /  September 11, 2017

    That’s prying Blazer.
    But no I am not bilingual, on the other hand I am fluent in four languages including Māori not unfortunately my Great grandfathers Portugese though Spanish is close enough.

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  September 11, 2017

      yes it is prying and I respect your right to divulge whatever you see fit.Portugese,-just put an o on the end of english words…apartment=apartmento…..just kidding.

      Reply
  6. sorethumb

     /  September 11, 2017

    Correct pronunciation is not about communication but about (demanding) respect. In that sense, it is not an issue of language but inter-ethnic boundaries – like a Chinese garden for Queens Park (Invercargill). Whatever the merits this is also the result of activism via post-modernists and post colonial studies (and revisionist historians). The goal has not been justice as most people understand it but a greater goal of destabilising the Anglo-Saxon hegemony, making way for what Catherine Delahunty once referred to as “renegotiation” of society.

    Reply
    • sorethumb

       /  September 11, 2017

      Quite a few English names are derived from Gaelic and mispronounced.

      Reply
    • sorethumb

       /  September 11, 2017

      What I am saying is there is a lot of manure produced in the name of higher education all paid for by the hapless taxpayer while undermining the interests of the citizen taxpayer. Margaret Mutu is just mainstream post modernist and post colonialist. What’s more it suits the National Party (“Our future lies with Asia”) to have society off balance as it represents interests whose fortunes are supercharged by immigration (Paul Spoonley is cheer leading Superdiversity for MBIE while pushing a museum to have a more negative depiction of our colonial period).

      Reply
  7. insider

     /  September 11, 2017

    Can I insist on “correct” pronunciation of tiriti, poneke, wiki, tariana, wikitoria – they all have important ancestral memories that are lost if spoken wrongly. Or would that be considered arrogant?

    Come to think of it, can I insist on correct pronunciation of “pronunciation” too?

    Reply
  8. Maggy Wassilieff

     /  September 11, 2017

    East Coast Māori has become the standard pronunciation version, championed by the Māori Language Commission.

    I am W(h)anganui born and raised and never heard the F sound being used for wh until well into my 30s or 40s…and never by a Māori speaker from the West Coast of the NI.

    Listen closely to how Tariana Turia pronounces Whānau, in contrast to Mihingarangi Forbes.
    (from about 3 min in).
    http://www.maoritelevision.com/news/national/native-affairs-tariana-turia-whanau-ora

    I know live on the East Coast surrounded by fluent Māori speakers…I’m doing my little bit to keep the West-coast pronunciation alive.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  September 11, 2017

      I’m from Taranaki – New Plymouth (Ngamotu) Fitzroy (Rewarewa pa) rohe. Most Taranaki Maori pronounced Whanganui with the short soft ‘blow’ for the Wh – not the F sound. To most Pakeha it probably sounded like W, so got written that way.

      Bit miffed when they changed the spelling to include the ‘h’ because although local Maori will still pronounce it correctly, others – and youngsters learning “Commission Maori” will say Fanganui.

      Local kaumatua are a bit disappointed their dialect is disappearing because their tamariki are learning CM, but on balance, what does it really matter – so long as the native language of this land itself survives and thrives?

      Reply
    • Conspiratoor

       /  September 11, 2017

      Maggie, do the locals greet you with ‘e pehea ana koe? Or ‘ke te pehea koe’

      Reply
  9. Zedd

     /  September 11, 2017

    Heres a few more to add to the list;

    Tamaki Makaurau, Kirikiriroa, Otautahi, Otepoti

    for those who dont know; Akld, Hamilton, ChCh & Dunaz 😀

    maybe time that ‘Aotearoa’ & these other names were more accepted by mainstream ?!

    btw; last time I was in Tamaki Makaurau, I was frowned at for saying ‘Kiaora’ out in public & a member of my whanau seemed insensed that I wanted to ‘Hongi’ saying ‘I dont do this maori stuff’.. I replied this is Aotearoa/NZ not NZ/UK

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  September 11, 2017

      Man, I struggle with “Aotearoa New Zealand”. Just seems such a mouthful. Time we came up with a new name, imo. Something Maori, but less likely to be said by foreigners as Ay o tea are row ah.

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  September 11, 2017

        (Foreigners being mainly, in this case, North Americans, Brits, & Australians.)

        Reply
        • Zedd

           /  September 11, 2017

          the weird thing is ‘New Zealand’ is apparently derived from ‘New Holland’ ? :/

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  September 11, 2017

            Yes, it’s an awkward construct – the English word ‘New’, & a mispelling of the Dutch name ‘Zeeland’.
            But to be fair, Maori – or at least most Maori – didn’t call this land Aotearoa either.

            Reply
            • Gezza

               /  September 11, 2017

              I like one-word country names. I’d quite like Pounamu.

            • Zedd

               /  September 11, 2017

              @gezza

              you can always move south to; ‘Te Wai Pounamu’ 😀

            • Gezza

               /  September 11, 2017

              I know, but it’d have to be Nelson/Marlborough. Nobody with any sense willingly moves to a place where the water freezes in the pipes in Winter, imo.

  10. phantom snowflake

     /  September 11, 2017

    Reply
  11. Alan Wilkinson

     /  September 11, 2017

    I don’t care much how it is pronounced so long as it is intelligent and useful. The rest is just pouncing or entertainment.

    Reply

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