Pronunciation of te reo Māori — or any language for that matter — is important, as it can change the meaning. It’s a sign of respect, too. The history behind place names is important, as it locates you, and you see, or find, the history that brought about the name. I can think of several stories relating to the pronunciation of my name; another blog post perhaps?
If you’re someone who would like to improve your pronunciation, there are some practical steps you can take:
- Ask for help. Most people are willing to assist you if they know you are trying.
- Make an effort; don’t give up. Make an effort, and don’t give up, as we know change often happens in small steps. Even if you ‘move closer’ to where you would like to be, people will notice the effort and admire it.
- Find resources. Look for resources to assist you.
I was having a discussion with my colleague Te Mako Orzecki (two names that regularly get mispronounced) about the pronunciation of “Kaikōura” and the multiple ways we have heard it recently in public on T.V. and radio.
Mispronunciation can change the whole meaning of a word. I have been impressed with Radio New Zealand and the effective strategy they use. When I constantly hear te reo throughout and every name is pronounced correctly in te reo Māori, after a while I just ‘hear’ the essence of what is being said and forget whether it is in English or te reo (this is because of the repetition, and because it is mainly introductions and greetings).
I have also noticed that the uptake of macrons in the media is still very slow. Past CORE blogs have discussed the importance of macrons in te reo Māori. If you’re unsure of how to add macrons, follow these simple guides:
- Set your computer up – it will take only a few minutes
- Unsure if a kupu (word) has a macron? Check with maoridictionary.co.nz, or check He Pātaka Kupu, which is the most accurate and is available in hard copy only.
Without wanting to get into the many reasons why te reo Māori is mispronounced, Te Mako and I thought we would choose 15 well-known place names and offer a free course to improve your pronunciation. The course involves interactive activities to support te reo Māori pronunciation, and a one-on-one virtual session with Te Mako or Anaru. If you are interested in enrolling in this course, register here:
Te Mako and I would also like to continue to gather ideas on te reo Māori and kaupapa Māori ideas to support whānau, learners, and staff. If you have any questions or stories to share please leave a comment below or tweet us: @anaruwhite or @OrzeckiT, or use the hashtags #correctPronunciation and #tereo. You can also use #TransformWithCore.
- CORE Education te reo Māori Courses: Te Reo Puāwai Māori, Te Reo Manahua Māori
- CORE Education Māori Resources: Kīwaha, Whakataukī and Te Whānau Pū Cards
- CORE Education Samoan Language Course: Gagana Samoa – Talanoa Mai
- CORE Education Blog: Adding tohutō (macrons) on devices for te reo Māori
- Connected Educator NZ: A global professional learning event — all online, all for free.