Te reo Māori pronunciation made easier

By Peata Melbourne

Tourist operators hold the influence over their audience when it comes to pronunciation of Māori words around town, now a new app can help them to learn the correct pronunciation and in turn educate their listeners.

When it comes to pronouncing those long Māori words like Waitākere or Takaparawhau, Maunga Uika or Tāmaki Paenga Hira, this new app could become your new best friend.

Kiwa Digital Steve Renata, “There hasn't been much around that has text and audio synched together so people can get lots of information in writing  but to able to hear the proper pronunciation is quite critical to learning.”

The app contains English language narration, with male and female voice options. Also included is a small selection of common phrases.

“This is an app, a tool that is useful for all New Zealanders when you look at what's happening at schools now all our young tamariki are learning both Māori and English in the many many subjects they're using so I think this tools going to be great for the tamariki and for the kaiako and hopefully at home with the whānau.”

The app was developed for the Department of Conservation born from a need to educate tourist operators who were perpetuating incorrect pronunciations in their tours, but I wanted to test it out on some tourists.

“It's easier than going through words in books, no it's nice because you're going to ask somebody anyway.”

“It's quite good actually.”

As a user, it has the feel of a PDF document with narration more than an app, but the question is, is there a market out there of people who want to learn the correct pronunciation?

Renata says, “We think that in the tourism market particularly for operators that wanna add that point of difference and want to do things correctly there's going to be a huge appetite there and we're seeing more and more that visitors that are coming into the country are wanting to hear about the distinctive Māori identity of Tāmaki Makaurau.”

The app is free and available now for iPhone and iPads from the App Store. An Android version will be available in early January.