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Maori Pronunciation

Many New Zealand place names are Maori and it is good when asking for directions to be able to pronounce them correctly.

Each syllable in Maori ends with a vowel, and they are always pronounced, even at the end of words.

Like English, there are five vowels: a, e, i, o, u. These are pronounced to rhyme with "are there three or two": "arr eeh ee or oou".
A: as in path or pat
E: as in ain or pen
I: as in feet or fit
O: as in foe or forest
U: as in boot or put

Two vowels together are each given their own sound, but run together slightly; so ai is ah-ee but will sound like i in high.

There are ten consonants; h, k, m, n, p, r, t, w, ng and wh they are pronounced as in English, ng as in the English word “singer”, and the common wh either as in “whale” or as a very soft f, depending on region.

Maori place names mainly derive from features on the landscape or events that happened in the region.

Below is a brief definition of many common words.
Ao - cloud
Ara - path
Awa - river
Ma (manga) - stream
Maunga - mountain
Moana - sea
Nui - big or great
O - the place of
Puna - spring
Puke - hill
Ra - sun
Rangi - sky
Roa - long
Roto - lake
Te - the
Wai - water
Whanga - bay
Whare - house

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