Everybody appreciates it if you attempt to pronounce their name or the name of their town properly.
Here Ned Tapa helps me get my tongue around some Māori names.
There are only 15 letters in the Māori alphabet. 5 basic vowels and 10 consonants. Two of the consonants are written as digraphs (two letters representing one sound): ng and wh
Every Māori syllable finishes with a vowel.
There are 5 basic vowels (monophthongs) and many diphthongs (combination of vowels in the same syllable)
Remember “Are there three or two?”
A as in “are”
E as in “there”
I is an e sound as in “three” (This is allegedly due to a German missionary creating the written version of the Māori language. Māori did not have a written language before the arrival of Europeans) This quirk causes a lot of mispronunciation of names and words such as Hipango which is pronounced “He-pa-ngo” not “Hi-pang-o”
O as in “or”
U as in “two”
Double vowels or a macron over a vowel, aa or ā, is a long vowel sound, so stretching out the “are” sound. As in Māori.
For a vowel combination with different vowels (diphthongs) the two sounds run together. “Tau” in Māori sounds like “toe” in English.
Pretty much like English except for the two digraphs Ng and Wh
Ng is a nasal sound. Ng as in singer not in as finger
So Rongo is Ro ngo not Rong go
Wh is f in most of New Zealand except Whanganui and South Taranaki where wh is a breathy wh. So whanau (family) is fa nau in most parts of the country and wha nau in Whanganui and South Taranaki.
There are some other dialect differences around the country.
R is rolled, a bit like a cat’s purr, with your tongue on the roof of your mouth.
Tariana Turia (Minister of Disability Service and Associate Minister of Health)
Some simple greetings
Kia ora is a very common greeting that means be well, and can be used for hello or thank you depending on the tone of voice.
Kei te pehea a koe? How are you (to one person)?
Ma te wa See you later
Nga mihi Hello / I acknowledge you.
Ma te wa!
Waka (canoe) image from http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/1392793/Unfazed-PM-leads-prayers-at-Waitangi
Warrior with taiaha image from http://www.rellimzone.com/2011/08/deadliest-warrior-s01e07-shaolin-monk-vs-maori-warrior/
Music: AEIOU by Moana and the Moa Hunters 1991