To say Ka-wa-ra or Ka-wa-roe?
We don’t all get our Te Reo pronunciation correct but Wakatipu-based Kaumatua Darren Rewi says many people are making an effort - and good on them.
His comments follow debate in the North Island where proposed Maori names for parts of SH1 near Kapiti have been criticised as being too difficult to pronounce.
Rewi says there has been a long history of mispronunciation of the Maori place names in the Wakatipu but says that some people find Te Reo difficult.
A classic example was the Kawarau River - widely pronounced as Kar-wa-ra or Ka-wa-row or Ka-waroe.
The final example is the most correct, he says.
‘‘30 years ago rafting guides were all Americans and they couldn’t say Kawarau’’, Rewi said.
Now tourism businesses and individuals are trying to change.
‘‘Over time we all picked up on that...To a certain degree it reflects the history of Queenstown.’’
It appears to Rewi that new Queenstown residents, especially those from overseas, are even more conscientious.
‘‘They make more effort than good old kiwis who think ‘she’ll be right’. New immigrants don’t want to offend anyone.’’
Regardless, people should not be ‘beaten up’ over their pronunciation.
‘‘I have always thought if someone was doing their best then you should support them....We’re doing really great. About 10 or 15 years ago in Queenstown we would never have had those conversations.’’
He said many people do not realise that Kawarau is also the Maori name of the Remarkables mountain range. ‘Kawa’ means bitter or pointed and ‘rau’ means many - 100 or more. People assume this is based on the rocks in the river. However, Kawarau was actually the name of a chief and was first given to the mountains.
‘‘The chief was so esteemed that they named the river at his feet ‘Kawarau’ as well,’’ he said.
‘‘Wakatipu’’ Rewi said, derived from Whaka - a prefix for doing, and tipu - to grow. So the name Whakatipu related to the place where growing was done as nomadic Maori would plant in the area and return to harvest.
❚ See stuff.co.nz to see the video of Darren Rewi and other locals pronouncing local Maori words.