Kōrerotia te reo!

Is it a surprise to you if I told you that New Zealand has two official languages and neither of them are English? English is presumed to be an official language by most people, however the official languages are te reo Māori and NZ Sign Language. English is a de facto official language. While I’d encourage you to go out and learn NZ sign language to be able to communicate with the deaf and hard of hearing community, this blog is about simple ways you can incorporate a little te reo Māori into your life at home, at work or as a kaiako. Kōrerotia te reo, e hoa ma! 

Whether you’re at the beginning of your te reo Māori journey, or have dipped your toes in a wee bit, these are some useful kupu to have in your kete.

How to construct an active sentence in te reo Māori

An active sentence is one you would use to say what is happening in the present moment. You would construct a sentence like this:

Tense + verb + subject + particle (i/ki) + object

Kei te + haere + au/ahau + ki + te hokomaha = In the present tense + going + I + to + the supermarket = I am going to the supermarket 
Kei te + haere + ahau + ki + te mahi = I am going to work
Kei te + kai + ahau + i + te āporo = I am eating an apple

Note the difference between ki and i. Ki indicates a direction - going somewhere, to, into, towards, onto. I indicates a subject is performing an action upon an object.

Singular pronouns

First personau, ahauIKei te hiainu au.
I'm thirsty.
Second personkoeyouKei te kāinga koe?
Are you at home? 
Third personiashe, heI titiro ia ki te kurī.
He looked at the dog.

Credit: https://kupu.maori.nz/more/pronouns

What makes te reo slightly unusual to English is that you can be more descriptive about who and how many people you are talking about or to with plural pronouns. Most people are familiar with the kupu koutou, meaning three or more people (excluding the speaker), below are additional options to include or exclude the speaker with the other or group.

Plural and dual pronouns

Māori  three or
First person plural
(inclusive of listener)
tāuatātouwe, usKāore tāua e mokemoke.
We (the two of us) will not be lonely.
Mā tātou katoa tēnei mahi.This work is for all of us.
First person plural
(exclusive of listener)
māuamātouwe, usI homai te koroua i te moni ki a māua.The old man gave the money to us (two, but not to you the listener)I haere mātou ki te whare pikitia.We (three or more) are going to the picture theatre (but not you the listener).
Second person pluralkōruakoutouyouMe haere atu kōrua.
You (two) had better go. 
Tēnā koutou.Greetings to you (three or more).

Credit: https://kupu.maori.nz/more/pronouns

Te reo Māori at home

Have a think about what some of the most common things that you are saying at home to others and think about how you could use te reo Māori instead of English here. Here is a list of some common things you might be saying and how you could say them in te reo Māori.

Using the kupu kei te (in the present tense)

I am cookingKei te tunu ahau
I am cleaning (washing)Kei te horoi ahau
You are gardeningKei te mahi māra koe
You are playing Kei te tākaro koe
She is feedingKei te whāngai ia
He is sleepingKei te moe ia
They (two) are goodKei te pai kōrua
What are you doing?Kei te aha koe?
I am eatingKei te kai ahau
How are you?Kei te pēhea koe?
I am hungryKei te hiakai ahau

Using the kupu kua reri (to be ready). The kupu “Kua” is a past perfect tense marker, meaning has, had, or will have. It means the action is completed or underway.

The food is readyKua reri ngā kai
Breakfast is readyKua reri ngā parakuihi
Dinner is ready Kua reri ngā hapa
Are you ready?Kua reri koe?
I am readyKua reri ahau
Are you (two) ready?Kua reri kōrua?
We (two) are readyKua reri māua 

Note the change in tāua to māua, because in the question the speaker is not including themselves in the question. In the answer the speaker is not including the listener in the answer

Using the kupu me/ka (let’s)

Let’s put on your clothesMe whakamaua i ōu kākahu
Let’s put on your shoesMe whakamaua i ōu hu
Let’s wash your faceMe horoi i tō kanohi
Let’s goKa haere tāua/Me haere tāua
Let’s go homeKa haere tātou i te kainga
Let’s danceKa kanikani tātou

Using the kupu mai/atu (towards speaker/away from speaker)

Come (towards speaker)Haere mai
Go (away from speaker)Haere atu
Pass (towards speaker) the breadHomai te pāraoa
Pass (away from speaker) the ballHoatu te pōro
Listen (towards speaker)Whakarongo mai
Look (away from speaker)Titiro atu

Te reo Māori at work

Using the kupu he aha (what)

What is this (near me)?He aha tēnei?
That is a pen (near you)He pene tēnā
What is that (near you)?He aha tēnā?
That is my food (near me)He kai tēnei

Note change in tēnei/tēna depending on location of the object spoken about tēnei - near me, tēnā - near you

What are you doing?Kei te aha koe?
I am workingKei te mahi ahau
What’s the time?He aha te wā? He aha te taima?
It’s 5 o’clockRima karaka te wā

Using the kupu mutu (finished)

I am finishedKua mutu ahau
You are finishedKua mutu koe
Are you finished?Kua mutu koe?

Other useful rerenga kupu (phrases)

I am goingKei te haere ahau
I am workingKei te mahi ahau
I am coming back homeKei te hoki mai ahau
I have to go to workMe haere au ki te mahi
Today is MondayKo tēnei te Rāhina

Te reo Māori for Kaiako

Using the kupu e hia (how many)

How many?E hia?
Five of themE rima
How many colours?E hia ngā kara?
Three coloursE toru kara
How many apples?E hia ngā āporo?
Two applesE rua ngā āporo
How many cups?E hia ngā kapu?
One cupKotahi te kapuko in front of the number for singular
How many people?Tokohia ngā tāngata?Toko is used for counting people
There are three peopleTokotoru ngā tāngata
There are two girlsTokorua ngā kōtiro
There are six menTokoono ngā tama
There are 4 womenTokowha ngā wāhine
There is one womanKotahi te wahine
There is one personKotahi te tangata

Note the changes from ngā to te to indicate plural or singular and the macrons to indicate plural or singular

Using the kupu he (determiner - a, an, some) - describing what something is or describing a quality of something

This (near me) is an appleHe āporo tēnei
These (near me) are applesHe āporo ēneiNote ēnei is the plural form of tēnei - still denoting the object is next to the speaker
That (near you) is a butterflyHe purerehua tēnā
This is yellowHe kowhai tēnei
That is a good ideaHe whakaaro pai
I have a questionHe pātai taku
What is the questionHe aha te pātai?

Other useful rerenga kupu (phrases)

Sit down on the chairE noho ki runga i te turu
Don’t run insideKāua e oma ki roto
Run outsideE oma ki waho
Go outsideHaere ki waho
The food is deliciousHe reka ngā kai
Do you need to wee?Kua mimi koe?
You are weeingKei te mimi koe
Wash your handsHoroia ō ringaringa
Are you thirsty?Kei te hiainu koe?
Are you hungry?Kei te hiakai koe?
That’s rightKei te tika

The attitudes and behaviours of non-Māori speakers towards the Māori language have a significant impact on supporting te reo Māori to survive and thrive. Pākehā have an obligation as tangata tiriti (people of the treaty, as opposed to tangata whenua) to create space for te reo to grow and we can do this by normalising the use of te reo, correcting our own pronunciation (see websites such as Māori dictionary with helpful pronunciations for every kupu) and understanding the impacts colonisation has had on the indigenous language, culture, wellbeing and land. Don’t go for every kupu on this list. Pick a few each day and try to only use the te reo word for that word or sentence for the day (or however long it takes to stick). Soon you’ll be using the te reo kupu so habitually you won’t even notice! Karawhiua tō reo, e hoa ma! Go for it, friends!

Aroha nui ki a koutou,



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