Archive for April, 2018

A Maori Word a Day offers an easy, instant and motivating entry into the Maori language. Through its 365 Maori words, you will learn the following:

– English translations
– Word category, notes and background information
– Sample sentences, in both te reo Maori and English

Exploring the most common, modern and contemporary words in use today, A Maori Word a Day is the perfect way to kickstart your te reo journey!

Raupo

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Lee Murray

I was delighted to review copy of A Māori Word a Day by Auckland University teacher and translator, Hēmi Kelly. A Kiwi writer myself, I’m keen to include more te reo in my work, so this one-a-day teaching tool comprising a selection of commonly used terms looks to be the perfect text to keep on my desk. The beginning of the book includes information about pronunciation and there is a handy index of all the 365 terms at the back. In between, each page is dedicated to a single word arranged alphabetically and printed in bold 14-point text with the English definition printed below. The text is surrounded by lots of white space to make the word pop. Finally, each word is used in three sentences to highlight its meaning(s).

But what’s interesting about A Māori Word a Day is the cultural story the words tell when viewed together with their definitions and their explanatory example sentences. For example, the first word in the book is yes, which makes sense since it provides an affirmative start to the book and to our learning. It’s a simple word; one we use multiple times a day. And surely it is culturally significant that when we turn to page 2, the second word is ice-cream? With a strong dairying history, New Zealanders certainly love their ice cream. Day 7’s lesson is an eye-opener. The word is arā, which I gather is somewhat like the French term voilà, meaning there, over there, there it is, there they are. But it’s the explanatory sentences which are the most revelatory:

Kei hea te raumamao? Arā, kei mua i tō ihu!

Where’s the remote? There, in front of your nose!

Arā tō tatou waka.

There’s our ride.

Arā te waha papā e haere mai ana.

There’s the big mouth, heading our way.

“There’s the big mouth, heading our way.” Already, I’m getting the feeling that Kelly loves the language and wants us to have fun with it. I particularly loved page 194 where the word is pani ārai rā or sunblock and the sample sentence is:

Pania tō mata kit e pani ārai rā, kei rite koe kit e koura.

Put sunblock on your face or you’ll end up looking like a crayfish.

Sometimes though, the lesson is sombre, for example on day 38, when we learn the word hiko:

I a au e tupu ake ana, karekau he hiko i tō mātou whare.

When I was growing up, we didn’t have power in our house.

This page includes a tiny vignette where we learn that the word ‘hiko’ or lightning, became the word for electricity when electric lights were introduced to the country in the nineteenth century. There are several such vignettes in the book, either to provide some social and historical context, or just some helpful tips. In Māori trousers (tarau) and hope (tūmanako) are always singular, for example.

But Kelly’s choices affirm that the language is alive and modern, like this helpful sentence on page 22:

Tonoa mai au hei i te Pukamata.

Friend request me on Facebook.

And this one, on page 126.

Kua wareware i a au te kupu huna!

I’ve forgotten the password!

A Māori Word a Day won’t teach you Māori, but it might inspire you to kickstart your te reo journey, which, it seems, was Kelly’s intent all along. And on that note, I’ll leave you with the entry on page 337:

Whāia ō wawata kia tutuki rā anō i a koe.

Pursue your dreams until you achieve them.

Lee Murray is a ten-time winner of New Zealand’s prestigious Sir Julius Vogel Award for science fiction, fantasy and horror. Her titles include the bestselling military thriller Into the Mist and supernatural crime-noir Hounds of the Underworld (co-authored with Dan Rabarts). She is proud to have co-edited eight anthologies, one of which, Baby Teeth, won her an Australian Shadows Award in 2014. She lives with her family in the Land of the Long White Cloud. Find her at leekiwi.info

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