From Te Waipounamu to Te Ika a Maui, one of the more striking aspects of being in New Zealand/Aotearoa is its bilingualism. Māori words and phrases pepper perfectly routine English sentences in the newspapers, TV, and radio. Much of the geography and wildlife of Aotearoa is known in singularly Māori terms. And government agencies list their titles and much of their signage in words I understand and those I absolutely have to learn more about.
The recognition of te reo Māori has not come without a struggle – there was a time when speaking it in schools was prohibited, for example (brief history here). But since 1987 Māori has been recognized as an official language of New Zealand.
With a relatively short amount of time here, I’ve been doing what I can to learn as much te reo as possible. Here’s a few resources I’ve found particularly helpful.
1. Online dictionary and grammar tools
For looking up a single word, I’m partial to maoridictionary.co.nz for its thorough explanations of words with multiple significant meanings. For grammar I’ve found kupu.maori.nz quite helpful when wondering about a general approach to language, such as how to ask questions.
2. Books and workbooks
On the road, having a copy of “Māori Place Names” on the dashboard was indispensable – so many locations in New Zealand are named for natural features, with names that fly by or blend together until they are unpacked. I picked up a copy of “Teach Yourself Māori” a while ago which I’m going to go ahead and *not* recommend it – a lot of my time has been spent trying to make sense of the formatting of the book. I’m intrigued by these Māori Made Easy books and workbooks and their 30-minutes/day approach, but haven’t pulled the trigger yet. [ED: Picked one up on Feb. 22, loving it]