The Maori language is cherished by the indigenous people of New Zealand, the Maori, as a treasure and many pakeha are now trying to learn it. However, although it is an official language of New Zealand, few New Zealanders (and only a minority of Maori) can conduct a conversation in the Maori language (all indigenous Maori speakers are bilingual and understand English just as well).
Still, a number of Maori words have been adopted into New Zealand English, while many place names are Maori words. Being able to correctly pronounce Maori words is a valued skill since incorrectly pronounced Maori sounds like fingernails scratching on a blackboard and will immediately identify you as a visitor to the country. Even a tolerable and halting attempt at the correct pronunciation is better than a poor guess – your effort to get it right will be appreciated and accepted. (Many New Zealanders have trouble with some Maori place names, so you will blend in with the crowd.)
The New Zealand Maori language (Maori: Te Reo Maori) is relatively simple to pronounce.
Each of the vowels has a long and short form:
In written Māori, the long vowels are often denoted by macrons (bars over the letters) or whatever similar characters were available to the typesetter. Sometimes you will see words where a vowel letter is repeated. This may indicate that the vowel is pronounced "long", but modern usage is to use the macron.
Thus Māori, Maaori and Maori would all represent the same word; although you will never see it spelled "Maaori".
Macrons are not normally used when a Maori word has been adopted into English, and they do not generally appear on direction signs or maps. But this is beginning to change, with road direction signs for Taupo (both the lake and the town) now written as Taupō.
Maori words are broken into syllables at each vowel or consonant-vowel pair.
Maori word root combinations tend to have a major root subject followed by qualifier suffixes. This means a literal translation from Maori to English produces a lot of transposed word combinations.
An ordinary traveler will not need to resort to speaking Maori to make themselves understood. However an understanding of Maori words and their meanings will lead to an appreciation of the culture and enhance the travel experience.
Maori take meetings and greetings seriously. Visitors and honored guests will often be welcomed in a formal ceremony known as a Powhiri. While such ceremonies generally take place on a Marae, it has become accepted practice that such ceremonies may also take place at conferences, important meetings, and similar ceremonial occasions. On such formal occasions, protocol will normally mean that a representative or adviser who can speak Maori will be assigned to the visitors' party to assist and explain what is happening and may formally speak (Whaikorero) to introduce the visitors.
Hello means tena koe Well being means Kia ora As there is no word for thank you, kia ora is used No is Kahore for the Northland tribe Nga Puhi
To say numbers higher than then you must say Tekau ma *number*
To say 20,30,40,50 - 90 you must say *number* Tekau E.G. 20 is Rua Tekau and 30 is Toru Tekau
If you want to say any numbers in between you must say *number* Tekau ma *number*
And so on....
Glossary of Maori geographical terms translated into English
Knowing a little about these terms will help you to both pronounce the name and understand what it means.
Maori is taught in many places around New Zealand, often as a night class. Ask at the local information centre or citizens advice bureau. The Maori Language Commission also has a list of course providers.