Identifying te reo M¯aori dialects
Across Aotearoa one te reo Ma¯ ori word can be pronounced a multitude of ways.
‘‘You can tell where somebody’s from straight away, instantly, by the words they use and by their accent,’’ Taranaki woman Tamzyn Pue explains. ‘‘It’s your identity.’’
Whether it’s the drop of a consonant, a glottal stop or replacing a letter with another, variations of the language are unique indicators of the country’s different iwi.
In Taranaki and Whanganui the sound ‘‘wh’’ becomes a glottal stop with the ‘‘h’’ being dropped and the word whakarongo (listen), for example, being pronounced ‘‘w’akarongo.’’
The people of Tuhoe in the Bay of Plenty change the ‘‘ng’’ sound into an ‘‘n’’ and so would say ‘‘whakarono’’, while in the South Island speakers from iwi Nga¯i Tahu swap the ‘‘ng’’ sound for a ‘‘k’’ and would instead say ‘‘whakaroko,’’ and so refer to their tribe as Ka¯ i Tahu.
But in Northland the word, which is commonly known to be pronounced with a sharp F sound at the beginning, would be said ’’hakarongo.’’
Furthermore, Pue, who is of Te A¯ tiawa, Nga¯ ti Maru and Nga¯ ti Ruanui descent, said within the different regions there were variations of the language again.
The Te Korimako o Taranaki radio station host, whose first language is te reo Ma¯ ori, said, for example, it wasn’t quite as simple as just ‘‘dropping the H’’ in Taranaki.
‘‘The reo can be broken down into three waka; Tokomaru, Aotea and Kurahaupo¯ .’’
Aotea, which includes Whanganui and South Taranaki, quite obviously drop the H, while people of Tokomaru in North Taranaki would soften it, she said.
The people of Kurahaupo¯ were quite different again and would instead speak with an H sound in front of words that begin with a vowel ‘‘even if it didn’t exist in the written text.’’
‘‘Each tribe and each hapu and each marae throughout the country has its own accent, their own dialect, their own diction and rhythm.’’
She said each unique version was a reflection of the landscape, environment and tongue of tribal groupings.
Somebody wanting to learn the reo who perhaps had links to many iwi, or was non-Ma¯ ori, had a plethora of dialects to choose from, Pue said.
Tamzyn Pue, broadcaster on Te Korimako o Taranaki, said the varying dialects of te reo Ma¯ ori identified which iwi people were from.