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Browse the 1966 Encyclopaedia of New Zealand
Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.



Some Present-day Observations: Vocabulary

Reference has already been made to the increasing amount of transliteration in the Maori language and the replacing of genuine Maori sounds. This is a disturbing trend: for example, the use of the word whara for fellow instead of tangata (man), or manna (mother) instead of whaea. In personal names also can be found the use of Maori words that are actually transliteration:

  • George = Hori

  • John = Hoani or Hone

  • Samuel = Hamiora

  • Edward = Eruera

Another disturbing feature from the point of view of the purist is the varying degrees of originality of language among the tribes. This state of affairs has been in part due to the proximity of tribes to European urban areas; for example, the South Island, Wellington, and the Wairarapa were mainly European majority areas. Tribes such as Ngati Porou and Tuhoe are far superior as far as purity of the spoken language is concerned. In these areas also there is less usage of English words and mannerisms in speaking.

It is difficult to estimate the number who now speak fluent Maori, perhaps 70 per cent of the 170,000 Maori people. But the most disturbing feature is the fact that probably only 60 per cent of the young Maori population (probably less) under 20 years of age can and do speak Maori.