Māori Pronunciation

still under development

The pronunciation of Māori is changing. Older native speakers living today pronounce Māori words quite differently to younger adult speakers who are more proficient in English (i.e. English dominant). In turn the older native speaker's pronunciation is quite to their grandparents who were more likely to a use a more distinctive a set of vowels when speaking either language (the references below cite research to support this).

Younger speakers of Māori show marked influences of English in their pronunciation of Māori. This is not surprising given the Māori community (with few exceptions) is very much English speaking.

English speaking learners of Māori often have difficulty with three consonants /ng, r, wh/ and a number of diphthongs which do not occur in New Zealand English (I'll expand in the future).

Most Māori pronunciation resources available are a complete waste of time and money. All they do is provide exemplars of pronunciation. Generally the authors do not have the technical background (in terms of auditory/acoustic knowledge) to describe how Māori should be pronounced correctly.

Check out MAONZE A research project looking at changes in the pronunciation of Māori. 


Bauer, W. A. (1993). Māori. London: Routledge.

Harlow, R., Keegan, P.J., King, J., Maclagan, M., & Watson, C.(2005). Te whakahuatanga i te reo Māori: Kua ahatia e tatou i roto i nga tau 100 kua hipa nei? The pronunciation of Māori: What have we done to it in the last 100 years? He Puna Korero, Journal of Māori & Pacific Development, 6(1), 7-27.

Harlow, R. (2007). Māori: A linguistic introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Maclagan, M., Harlow, R., King, J., Keegan, P.J., Watson, C. (2004). New Zealand English influence on Māori pronunciation over time. Te Reo, Journal of the Linguistic Society of New Zealand, 47, 45-57.

Maclagan, M. & King, J. (2002). The pronunciation of wh in Māori - a case study from the late nineteenth century. Te Reo: Journal of the Linguistic Society of New Zealand, 45, 45-63.

Page last modified: 22 October 2007.

This page is Copyright © Peter J Keegan, PhD, 2003-2017.