|Native to||New Zealand|
148,000 conversant (2013 census)
|Latin (Māori alphabet)
Official language in
|Regulated by||Māori Language Commission|
Māori (//; Māori pronunciation:  listen), also known as Te Reo ("the language"), is an Eastern Polynesian language spoken by the Māori people, the indigenous population of New Zealand. Since 1987, it has been one of New Zealand's official languages. It is closely related to Cook Islands Māori, Tuamotuan, and Tahitian.
A national census undertaken in 2013 reported that about 148,000 people, or 3.7% of the New Zealand population, could hold a conversation in Māori about everyday things. As of 2015[update], 55% of Māori adults reported some knowledge of the language; of these speakers, 64% use Māori at home and 50,000 can speak the language "very well" or "well".
There was originally no native writing system for Māori. Missionaries brought the Latin alphabet around 1814, and linguist Samuel Lee worked with chief Hongi Hika to systematize the written language in 1820. The resultant phonetic spellings were remarkably successful. Written Māori has changed little since then.
The spelling "Maori" (without macron) is standard in English outside New Zealand in both general and linguistic usage. The Māori-language spelling "Māori" (with macron) has become common in New Zealand English in recent years, particularly in Māori-specific cultural contexts, although the traditional English spelling is still prevalent in general media and government use.
New Zealand has three official languages: English, Māori and New Zealand Sign Language. Māori gained this status with the passing of the Māori Language Act 1987. Most government departments and agencies have bilingual names; for example, the Department of Internal Affairs Te Tari Taiwhenua, and places such as local government offices and public libraries display bilingual signs and use bilingual stationery. New Zealand Post recognises Māori place-names in postal addresses. Dealings with government agencies may be conducted in Māori, but in practice, this almost always requires interpreters, restricting its everyday use to the limited geographical areas of high Māori fluency, and to more formal occasions, such as during public consultation. Increasingly New Zealand is referred to by the Māori name Aotearoa 'the long white cloud', though originally this referred only to the North Island of New Zealand.
A 1994 ruling by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in the United Kingdom held the New Zealand Government responsible under the Treaty of Waitangi (1840) for the preservation of the language. Accordingly, since March 2004, the state has funded Māori Television, broadcast partly in Māori. On 28 March 2008, Māori Television launched its second channel, Te Reo, broadcast entirely in the Māori language, with no advertising or subtitles. The first Māori TV channel, Aotearoa Television Network (ATN) was available to viewers in the Auckland region from 1996, but lasted for one year only.
In 2008, Land Information New Zealand published the first list of official place names with macrons, which indicate long vowels. Previous place name lists were derived from systems (usually mapping and geographic information systems) that could not handle macrons.
According to legend, Māori came to New Zealand from Hawaiki. Current anthropological thinking places their origin in tropical eastern Polynesia, mostly likely from the Southern Cook or Society Islands region, and that they arrived by deliberate voyages in seagoing canoes – possibly double-hulled and probably sail-rigged. These settlers probably arrived by about AD 1280 (see Māori origins). Their language and its dialects developed in isolation until the 19th century.
Since about 1800, the Māori language has had a tumultuous history. It started this period as the predominant language of New Zealand. In the 1860s, it became a minority language in the shadow of the English spoken by many settlers, missionaries, gold seekers, and traders. In the late 19th century, the colonial governments of New Zealand and its provinces introduced an English-style school system for all New Zealanders. From the mid 1800s, due to the Native Schools Act and later the Native Schools Code, the use of Māori in schools was slowly filtered out of the curriculum in order to become more European. Increasing numbers of Māori people learned English.
Until the Second World War (1939–1945), most Māori people spoke Māori as their first language. Worship took place in Māori; it functioned as the language of Māori homes; Māori politicians conducted political meetings in Māori; and some literature and many newspapers appeared in Māori.
Before 1880, some Māori parliamentarians suffered disadvantages because Parliament's proceedings took place in English. However, by 1900, all Māori members of parliament, such as Ngata, were university graduates who spoke fluent English. From this period, the number of speakers of Māori began to decline rapidly. By the 1980s, fewer than 20% of the Māori spoke the language well enough to be classed as native speakers. Even many of those people no longer spoke Māori in the home. As a result, many Māori children failed to learn their ancestral language, and generations of non-Māori-speaking Māori emerged.
By the 1980s, Māori leaders began to recognise the dangers of the loss of their language, and initiated Māori-language recovery-programs such as the Kōhanga Reo movement, which from 1982 immersed infants in Māori from infancy to school age. There followed in 1985 the founding of the first Kura Kaupapa Māori (Years 1 to 8 Māori-medium education programme) and later the first Wharekura (Years 9 to 13 Māori-medium education programme). Although "there was a true revival of te reo in the 1980s and early to mid-1990s ... spurred on by the realisation of how few speakers were left, and by the relative abundance of older fluent speakers in both urban neighbourhoods and rural communities", the language has been in a "renewed decline" since (p. 439). The decline is believed "to have several underlying causes". These include:
Based on the principles of partnership, Māori-speaking government, general revitalisation and dialectal protective policy, and adequate resourcing, the Waitangi Tribunal has recommended "four fundamental changes":
There is however evidence that the revitalization efforts are taking hold, as can be seen in the teaching of Te Reo in school curriculum, Te Reo's use as an instructional language, and the supportive ideologies surrounding these efforts. A survey was conducted in 2014 consisting of students ranging in age from 18–24 and were of mixed ethnic backgrounds ranging from Pakeha to Maori who lived in New Zealand. This survey showed a 62% response saying that Te Reo was at risk. Albury argues that these results come from either Te Reo not being used enough in common discourse or the number of speakers was inadequate for future language development. Albury argues that the opinions toward Maori language revitalization is important because they shape the success of policies put forth by the government.
The policies for language revitalization have been changing in attempts to improve Maori language use and have been working with suggestions from the Waitangi Tribunal on the best ways to implement the revitalization. The Waitangi Tribunal in 2011 identified a suggestion for language revitalization that would shift indigenous policies from the central government to the preferences and ideologies of the Maori people. This change recognizes the issue of Te Reo revitalization as one of indigenous self-determination, instead of the job of the government to identify what would be best for the language and Maori people of New Zealand.
Comparative linguists classify Māori as a Polynesian language; specifically as an Eastern Polynesian language belonging to the Tahitic subgroup, which includes Cook Islands Māori, spoken in the southern Cook Islands, and Tahitian, spoken in Tahiti and the Society Islands. Other major Eastern Polynesian languages include Hawaiian, Marquesan (languages in the Marquesic subgroup), and the Rapa Nui language of Easter Island. While the preceding are all distinct languages, they remain similar enough that Tupaia, a Tahitian travelling with Captain James Cook in 1769–1770, communicated effectively with Māori. Speakers of modern Māori generally report that they find the languages of the Cook Islands, including Rarotongan, the easiest amongst the other Polynesian languages to understand and converse in. See also Austronesian languages.
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Nearly all speakers are ethnic Māori resident in New Zealand. Estimates of the number of speakers vary: the 1996 census reported 160,000, while other estimates have reported as few as 10,000 fluent adult speakers in 1995 according to the Māori Language Commission (Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori). As reported in the most recent national census in 2013, 21.3% of Māori (self-identified) had a conversational knowledge of the language. In the same census, Māori speakers were 3.7% of the total population.
The level of competence of self-professed Māori speakers varies from minimal to total. Statistics have not been gathered for the prevalence of different levels of competence. Only a minority of self-professed speakers use Māori as their main language at home. The rest use only a few words or phrases (passive bilingualism).
Māori still[update] is a community language in some predominantly-Māori settlements in the Northland, Urewera and East Cape areas. Kohanga reo Māori-immersion kindergartens throughout New Zealand use Māori exclusively. Increasing numbers of Māori raise their children bilingually.
Urbanisation after the Second World War led to widespread language shift from Māori predominance (with Māori the primary language of the rural whānau) to English predominance (English serving as the primary language in the Pākehā cities). Therefore, Māori-speakers almost always communicate bilingually, with New Zealand English as either their first or second language.
The percentage prevalence of the Māori language in the Māori diaspora is far lower than in New Zealand. Census data from Australia show it as the home language of 5,504 people in 2001, or 7.5% of the Māori community in Australia. This represents an increase of 32.5% since 1996.
There was originally no native writing system for Māori. It has been suggested that the petroglyphs once used by the Māori developed into a script similar to the Rongorongo of Easter Island. However, there is no evidence that these petroglyphs ever evolved into a true system of writing. Some distinctive markings among the kōwhaiwhai (rafter paintings) of meeting houses were used as mnemonics in reciting whakapapa (genealogy) but again, there was no systematic relation between marks and meanings.
The modern Māori alphabet has 20 letters, two of which are digraphs: A Ā E Ē H I Ī K M N O Ō P R T U Ū W NG and WH. Attempts to write Māori words using the Latin script began with Captain James Cook and other early explorers, with varying degrees of success. Consonants seem to have caused the most difficulty, but medial and final vowels are often missing in early sources. Anne Salmond records aghee for aki (In the year 1773, from the North Island East Coast, p. 98), Toogee and E tanga roak for Tuki and Tangaroa (1793, Northland, p216), Kokramea, Kakramea for Kakaramea (1801, Hauraki, p261), toges for toki(s), Wannugu for Uenuku and gumera for kumara (1801, Hauraki, p261, p266, p269), Weygate for Waikato (1801, Hauraki, p277), Bunga Bunga for pungapunga, tubua for tupua and gure for kurī (1801, Hauraki, p279), as well as Tabooha for Te Puhi (1823, Northern Northland, p385).
From 1814, missionaries tried to define the sounds of the language. Thomas Kendall published a book in 1815 entitled A korao no New Zealand, which in modern orthography and usage would be He Kōrero nō Aotearoa. Professor Samuel Lee, working with chief Hongi Hika and Hongi's junior relative Waikato at Cambridge University, established a definitive orthography based on Northern usage in 1820. Professor Lee's orthography continues in use, with only two major changes: the addition of wh to distinguish the voiceless bilabial fricative phoneme from the labio-velar phoneme /w/; and the consistent marking of long vowels. The macron has become the generally accepted device for marking long vowels (hāngi), but double vowel letters have also been used (haangi).
The Māori embraced literacy enthusiastically, and missionaries reported in the 1820s that Māori all over the country taught each other to read and write, using sometimes quite innovative materials in the absence of paper, such as leaves and charcoal, carved wood, and hides.
The alphabet devised at Cambridge University was deficient in that it did not mark vowel length. The following examples show that vowel length is phonemic in Māori:
Māori devised ways to mark vowel length, sporadically at first. Occasional and inconsistent vowel-length markings occur in 19th-century manuscripts and newspapers written by Māori, including macron-like diacritics and doubling of letters. Māori writer Hare Hongi (Henry Stowell) used macrons in his Maori-English Tutor and Vade Mecum of 1911, as does Sir Āpirana Ngata (albeit inconsistently) in his Maori Grammar and Conversation (7th printing 1953). Once the Māori language started to be taught in universities in the 1960s, vowel-length marking was made systematic. At Auckland University, Professor Bruce Biggs (of Ngāti Maniapoto descent) promoted the use of double vowels (e.g. Maaori); this style was standard there until Biggs died in 2000. The Māori Language Commission, set up by the Māori Language Act 1987 to act as the authority for Māori spelling and orthography, favours the use of macrons, which are now the standard means of indicating long vowels. Occasionally, diaeresis are seen instead of macrons (e.g. Mäori) due to technical limitations in producing macronised vowels on typewriters and older computer systems.
Māori has five phonemically distinct vowel articulations, and ten consonant phonemes.
Although it is commonly claimed that vowel realisations (pronunciations) in Māori show little variation, linguistic research has shown this not to be the case.
Vowel length is phonemic; but four of the five long vowels occur in only a handful of word roots, the exception being /aː/. As noted above, it has recently become standard in Māori spelling to indicate a long vowel with a macron. For older speakers, long vowels tend to be more peripheral and short vowels more centralised, especially with the low vowel, which is long [aː] but short [ɐ]. For younger speakers, they are both [a]. For older speakers, /u/ is only fronted after /t/; elsewhere it is [u]. For younger speakers, it is fronted [ʉ] everywhere, as with the corresponding phoneme in New Zealand English.
As in many other Polynesian languages, diphthongs in Māori vary only slightly from sequences of adjacent vowels, except that they belong to the same syllable, and all or nearly all sequences of nonidentical vowels are possible. All sequences of nonidentical short vowels occur and are phonemically distinct. With younger speakers, /ai, au/ start with a higher vowel than the [a] of /ae, ao/.
The following table shows the five vowel phonemes and the allophones for some of them according to Bauer 1997. Some of these phonemes occupy large spaces in the anatomical vowel triangle (actually a trapezoid) of tongue positions. For example, /u/ is sometimes realised (pronounced) as IPA [ʉ].
|Open-Mid||e [ɛ]||o [ɔ]|
|Open||a [a], [ɒ]|
Diphthongs are /a/ or /o/ followed by a mid or high vowel: /ae, ai, ao, au, oi, oe, ou/.
The consonant phonemes of Māori are listed in the following table. Seven of the ten Māori consonant letters have the same pronunciation as they do in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). For those that do not, the IPA phonetic transcription is included, enclosed in square brackets per IPA convention.
The pronunciation of wh is extremely variable, but its most common pronunciation (its canonical allophone) is the labiodental fricative, IPA [f] (as found in English). Another allophone is the bilabial fricative, IPA [ɸ], which is usually supposed to be the sole pre-European pronunciation, although linguists are not sure of the truth of this supposition. At least until the 1930s, the bilabial fricative was considered to be the correct pronunciation. The fact that English f gets transcribed as p and not wh in borrowings (for example, "February" becomes Pēpuere instead of *Whēpuere) would strongly hint that the Māori did not perceive English /f/ to be the same sound as their wh.
Because English stops /p, t, k/ primarily have aspiration, speakers of English often hear the Māori nonaspirated stops as English /b, d, g/. However, younger Māori speakers tend to aspirate /p, t, k/ as in English. English speakers also tend to hear Māori /r/ as English /l/ in certain positions (cf. Japanese r). These ways of hearing have given rise to place-name spellings which are incorrect in Māori, like Tolaga Bay in the North Island and Otago and Waihola in the South Island. t becomes an affricate /ts/ before /i/ in modern Māori.
ng can come at the beginning of a word, like sing-along without the "si", which is difficult for English speakers outside of New Zealand to manage.
h is pronounced as a glottal stop, [ʔ], and wh as [ʔw], in some western areas of North Island.
In borrowings from English, many English consonants are simplified to the nearest available Māori consonant. For example, the English fricatives /tʃ/, /dʒ/, /s/ are transcribed as h, English /f/ as p, and English /l/ as r.
Syllables in Māori have one of the following forms: V, VV, CV, CVV. This set of four can be summarised by the notation, (C)V(V), in which the segments in parentheses may or may not be present. A syllable cannot begin with two consonant sounds (the digraphs ng and wh represent single consonant sounds), and cannot end in a consonant, although some speakers may occasionally devoice a final vowel. All possible CV combinations are grammatical, though wo, who, wu, and whu occur only in a few loanwords from English such as wuru, "wool" and whutuporo, "football".
As in many other Polynesian languages, e.g., Hawaiian, the rendering of loanwords from English includes representing every English consonant of the loanword (using the native consonant inventory; English has 24 consonants to 10 for Māori) and breaking up consonant clusters. For example, "Presbyterian" has been borrowed as Perehipeteriana; no consonant position in the loanword has been deleted, but /s/ and /b/ have been replaced with /h/ and /p/, respectively.
Stress is typically within the last four vowels of a word, with long vowels and diphthongs counting double. That is, on the last four moras. However, stressed moras are longer than unstressed moras, so the word does not have the precision in Māori that it does in some other languages. It falls preferentially on the first long vowel, on the first diphthong if there is no long vowel (though for some speakers never a final diphthong), and on the first syllable otherwise. Compound words (such as names) may have a stressed syllable in each component word. In long sentences, the final syllable before a pause may have a stress in preference to the normal stressed syllable.
Biggs proposed that historically there were two major dialect groups, North Island and South Island, and that South Island Māori is extinct. Biggs has analysed North Island Māori as comprising a western group and an eastern group with the boundary between them running pretty much along the island's north–south axis.
Within these broad divisions regional variations occur, and individual regions show tribal variations. The major differences occur in the pronunciation of words, variation of vocabulary, and idiom. A fluent speaker of Māori has no problem understanding other dialects.
There is no significant variation in grammar between dialects. "Most of the tribal variation in grammar is a matter of preferences: speakers of one area might prefer one grammatical form to another, but are likely on occasion to use the non-preferred form, and at least to recognise and understand it." Vocabulary and pronunciation vary to a greater extent, but this does not pose barriers to communication.
In the southwest of the island, in the Whanganui and Taranaki regions, the phoneme /h/ is a glottal stop and the phoneme /wh/ is [ʔw]. This difference has been the subject of considerable debate during the 1990s and 2000s over the then-proposed change of the name of the city Wanganui to Whanganui.
In the extinct South Island dialects, ng merged with k in many regions. Thus Kāi Tahu and Ngāi Tahu are variations in the name of the same iwi (the latter form is the one used in acts of Parliament). Since 2000, the government has altered the official names of several southern place names to the southern dialect forms by replacing ng with k. New Zealand's highest mountain, known for centuries as Aoraki in southern Māori dialects that merge ng with k, and as Aorangi by other Māori, was later named "Mount Cook", in honour of Captain Cook. Now its sole official name is Aoraki/Mount Cook, which favours the local dialect form. Similarly, the Māori name for Stewart Island, Rakiura, is cognate with the name of the Canterbury town of Rangiora. Likewise, Dunedin's main research library, the Hocken Collections, has the name Uare Taoka o Hākena rather than the northern (standard) Te Whare Taonga o Hākena. Goodall & Griffiths say there is also a voicing of k to g – this is why the region of Otago (southern dialect) and the settlement it is named after – Otakou (standard Māori) – vary in spelling (the pronunciation of the latter having changed over time to accommodate the northern spelling).
The standard Māori r is also found occasionally changed to an l in these southern dialects and the wh to w. These changes are most commonly found in place names, such as Lake Waihola and the nearby coastal settlement of Wangaloa (which would, in standard Māori, be rendered Whangaroa), and Little Akaloa, on Banks Peninsula. M. Goodall & Griffiths claim that final vowels are given a centralised pronunciation as schwa or that they are elided (pronounced indistinctly or not at all), resulting in such seemingly-bastardised place names as The Kilmog, which in standard Māori would have been rendered Kirimoko, but which in southern dialect would have been pronounced very much as the current name suggests. This same elision is found in numerous other southern placenames, such as the two small settlements called The Kaik (from the term for a fishing village, kainga in standard Māori), near Palmerston and Akaroa, and the early spelling of Lake Wakatipu as Wagadib. In standard Māori, Wakatipu would have been rendered Whakatipua, showing further the elision of a final vowel.
Biggs (1998) developed an analysis that the basic unit of Māori speech is the phrase rather than the word. The lexical word forms the "base" of the phrase. "Nouns" include those bases that can take a definite article, but cannot occur as the nucleus of a verbal phrase; for example: ika (fish) or rākau (tree). Plurality is marked by various means, including the definite article (singular te, plural ngā), deictic particles "tērā rākau" (that tree), "ērā rākau" (those trees), possessives "taku whare" (my house), "aku whare" (my houses). Some nouns lengthen a vowel in the plural, such as wahine (woman); wāhine (women).
Statives serve as bases usable as verbs but not available for passive use, such as ora, alive or tika, correct. Grammars generally refer to them as "stative verbs". When used in sentences, statives require different syntax than other verb-like bases.
Locative bases can follow the locative particle ki (to, towards) directly, such as runga, above, waho, outside, and placenames (ki Tamaki, to Auckland).
Personal bases take the personal article a after ki, such as names of people (ki a Hohepa, to Joseph), personified houses, personal pronouns, wai? who? and Mea, so-and-so.
Like all other Polynesian languages, Māori has a rich array of particles, which include verbal particles, pronouns, locative particles, definitives and possessives.
Verbal particles indicate aspectual properties of the verb to which they relate. They include ka (inceptive), i (past), kua (perfect), kia (desiderative), me (prescriptive), e (non-past), kei (warning, "lest"), ina or ana (punctative-conditional, "if and when"), and e … ana (imperfect).
Pronouns have singular, dual and plural number. Different first-person forms in both the dual and the plural are used for groups inclusive or exclusive of the listener.
Locative particles refer to position in time and/or space, and include ki (towards), kei (at), i (past position), and hei (future position).
Possessives fall into one of two classes marked by a and o, depending on the dominant versus subordinate relationship between possessor and possessed: ngā tamariki a te matua, the children of the parent but te matua o ngā tamariki, the parent of the children.
Definitives include the articles te (singular) and ngā (plural) and the possessives tā and tō. These also combine with the pronouns. Demonstratives have a deictic function, and include tēnei, this (near me), tēnā, that (near you), tērā, that (far from us both), and taua, the aforementioned. Other definitives include tēhea? (which?), and tētahi, (a certain). Definitives that begin with t form the plural by dropping the t: tēnei (this), ēnei (these).
The indefinite article he is usually positioned at the beginning of the phrase in which it is used. The indefinite article is used when the base is used indefinitely or nominally. These phrases can be identified as an indefinite nominal phrase. The article either can be translated to the English ‘a’ or ‘some’, but the number will not be indicated by he. The indefinite article he when used with mass nouns like water and sand will always mean 'some'.
|He tāne||A man||Some men|
|He kōtiro||A girl||Some girls|
|He kāinga||A village||Some villages|
|He āporo||An apple||Some apples|
The proper article a is used for personal nouns. The personal nouns do not have the definite or indefinite articles on the proper article unless it is an important part of its name. The proper article a always being the phrase with the personal noun.
|Kei hea, a Pita?||Where is Peter?|
|Kei Ākarana, a Pita.||Peter is at Auckland.|
|Kei hea, a Te Rauparaha?||Where is Te Rauparaha?|
|Kei tōku kāinga, a Te Rauparaha.||Te Rauparaha is at my home.|
In general, bases used as qualifiers follow the base they qualify, e.g. "matua wahine" (mother, female elder) from "matua" (parent, elder) "wahine" (woman).
|1.EXCL||au / ahau||māua||mātou|
Like other Polynesian languages, Māori has three numbers for pronouns and possessives: singular, dual and plural. For example: ia (he/she), rāua (they two), rātou (they, three or more). Māori pronouns and possessives further distinguish exclusive "we" from inclusive "we", second and third. It has the plural pronouns: mātou (we, exc), tātou (we, inc), koutou (you), rātou (they). The language features the dual pronouns: māua (we two, exc), tāua (we two, inc), kōrua (you two), rāua (they two). The difference between exclusive and inclusive lies in the treatment of the person addressed. Mātou refers to the speaker and others but not the person or persons spoken to ("I and some others but not you"), and tātou refers to the speaker, the person or persons spoken to and everyone else ("you, I and others"):
A phrase spoken in Maori can be broken up into two parts: the “nucleus” and “periphery”. The nucleus can be thought of as the meaning and is the center of the phrase, whereas the periphery is where the grammatical meaning is conveyed and occurs before and/or after the nucleus.
The nucleus whare can be translated as "house", the periphery te is similar to an article "the" and the periphery nei indicates proximity to the speaker. The whole phrase, te whare nei, can then be translated as "this house".
From missionary times, Māori used transliterations of English names for days of the week and for months of the year. Since about 1990 the Māori Language Commission / Te Taura Whiri o te Reo Māori has promoted new ("traditional") sets. Its days of the week have no pre-European equivalent but reflect the pagan origins of the English names (for example, Hina = moon). The commission based the months of the year on one of the traditional tribal lunar calendars.
|Maori edition of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia|
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