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Maori translationEnglish translation

Te Taurawhiri I Te Reo Māori Māori Language Commission
Frequently Asked QuestionsFrequently Asked Questions

What is the Māori language?

The Māori language is the language of the tangata whenua of Aotearoa. It is described as the very life-breath of Māori. It is a Polynesian language closely related to Cook Island Māori, Tahitian and Hawaiian. According to the 1996 Census the Māori language is spoken by some 150,000 New Zealanders.

Why are macrons used in the Māori language?

It's important to make a distinction between long and short vowel length. We believe macrons are the most efficient way to mark long vowel length and advocate the use of macrons in all but a few cases. It is sometimes argued that while the need to mark the distinction between some pairs of words is obvious ( tara / tāra, and keke / kēkē / kekē), and there is no reason to mark the long vowel length of the particles nga, na and mo. We believe there is no good reason not to mark the long vowel sound in such words. Macrons must reinforce a simple message for learners of Māori: "all macronised vowels are pronounced LONG". Macronising all words means consistency for all Māori speakers.

Why is it important to promote the Māori language?

The Māori language is the official language of New Zealand and is indigenous to our country. It is a part of our country's national character and identity. The richness and vibrancy of the language distinguishes New Zealand in areas such as tourism, exporting, employment, education and broadcasting. An example of this is seen in the sports arena where the All Blacks' haka has gained world-wide acclaim.

What can you do to support and promote the Māori language?

  • Take Māori language lessons and encourage friends and family to learn too.
  • Read Māori books.
  • Watch Māori television programmes or listen to your iwi radio station.
  • Talk to friends, colleagues and family about ways of supporting Māori language use in the workplace or at home.
  • Contact your local kōhanga reo or kura kaupapa to see how you can support their initiatives or activities.
  • Find out where and when Māori language wānanga are being held.
  • Aspire to speak Māori at all times everywhere to other speakers of Māori .

Remember, even correct pronunciation of the town you live in indicates support for the Māori language. We urge everyone to make a contribution - big or small. The greater the number of speakers and supporters, the greater chance of guaranteeing the survival of the Māori language.

To contact the Commission on any matters relating to the Māori language, write to:

Māori Language Commission
P O BOX 411
Tel. 04 471 0244
Fax. 04 471 2768
or use our feedback form here

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