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 to see the video of Dar­ren Rewi and other lo­cals pro­nounc­ing lo­cal Maori words.

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