Maori Language - Present And Past

The Maori language is around since about 800 BC. Its roots lie in Polynesia with relations to Hawaiian and
Tahitian language. Between the eighth and the twelfth century the language was introduced to New Zealand by Polynesian emigrants. In isolation of this far away island they called Aotearoa, meaning the
land of the long white cloud; the language encountered further development over time.

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Maori Language

Europeans used to learn the traditional language of the native Maori people. Many of the early settlers had to understand how to communicate in Maori for trading reasons. This development was greatly supported by the fact that they relied still at this time on them for many everyday things. Maori was an oral language with no official way of writing. People had ways of communication through songs, bone, wood and greenstone carving as well as New Zealand flax weaving to pass on messages, history, and family history.

As more and more settlers came onto the island, there was a push to get the native language of Maori people in writing. Missionaries made first attempts in early 1814. Soon Maoris could be seen educating themselves and other people in the art of writing. Instead of using paper the natives used charcoal, leaves, and other materials. They soon learned how to read, write, and count. The children of the settlers became very good friends with Maori kids and often Pakeha were found talking fluent in Maori.

However the more Europeans arrived, the more English became the dominating language.

Subsequently the native language took a very hard hit as it was banned from schools. Anyone who was caught talking in Maori was punished.

Confined to Maori communities the language seemed in danger of dying out. Early on in the 1980 ties a big effort was made to revive the language. Soon after 130,000 people of Maori origin, knew how to talk and comprehend in Maori.

Like many other languages Maori was undergoing major changes. The biggest influence occurred by English and resulted sometimes in word similarities. The language is back in schools and part of the curriculum. These days a lot of Maori people speak their traditional language. New Zealand has three official languages English, sign language, and Maori.

The language and Maoritanga, the Maori culture, is still alive and thriving today.


Guest Author: Mariam Cisse webmaster of Easy Healthy Recipes for Kids.com

Basic Lessons in Maori:

www.korero.maori.nz/forlearners/basics/lessons

New Zealand Proverb on Coffee Mug

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