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  • Writer's pictureNZ Booklovers

A Māori Word A Day by Hēmi Kelly

It has been 30 years since te reo Māori was declared an official language of New Zealand, and these days it isn't uncommon to hear greetings, farewells and introductions in the language. This year the government made a commitment to integrate te reo Māori into every early childhood service, primary and intermediate school by 2025. Hearing te reo Māori on the television and radio is common, and last year te reo Māori was once again on the global stage with the release of the reo-Māori version of Disney's Moana.

A Māori Word A Day is an easy, instant and motivating entry into te reo Māori. With 365 Māori words, it's a great way to embrace, learn and use our indigenous language.

Each entry offers a definition, word classification, sample sentences in both te reo Māori and English, as well as fun facts and background information. For example, the word rakuraku can mean both guitar and the verb, to scratch - which makes sense considering the strumming of the guitar is akin to the scratching action. 

Alphabetised, it includes most common and contemporary words in use today. While it doesn't include all tribal variances, all of the words are familiar to speakers of te reo Māori, and there are some alternatives included. There's also a lovely collection of whakataukī (proverbs) and kīwaha (idioms) scattered throughout.

Kelly also includes a simple, yet effective, pronunciation guide at the beginning of the book, so that even those who have never uttered a word of te reo Māori can take part.

Even as a confident speaker of te reo Māori, I learned new things through this book. Whether it was the history of words - like the origin of mōhiti for glasses - or more modern terms - the Māori word for jandal? Hū pakipaki - it also inspired me to add even more te reo Māori into my everyday conversations. A handy English to Māori index at the back of the book makes it even more accessible to readers and users. A Māori Word A Day is an incredibly simple, fun and practical Māori dictionary for all New Zealanders to kick-start their reo. 

Reviewer: Rebekah Fraser

Raupō, RRP $30.00


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