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Grammar of the New Zealand Language

Of the Consonants

Of the Consonants.


This is the same as the English h.

It is not however known on the western coast of New Zealand to the southward of Mokau, in the district of Taranaki. Its place is supplied by a curious stammer or jirk of the voice. A gentle sibilancy accompanies its pronunciation amongst Ngapuhi, which some speakers erroneously confound with sk.

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K has the sound of the English k; as in kill, &c.

M. N. P.

M, N, P, have the same sound as in English.


R has two sounds: (1) rough; as in rain, river, &c. e. g., kahore, rorea, roro, roto.

(2) The second is more soft, and is formed by a gentle jar of the tongue against the palate; so gentle indeed is the vibration, that most foreigners pronounce it like d or l, as in raro, ruru, rimu, pouaru, pari, muri, mariri, koiri, korikori, kouru, maru.


This is a letter which few Europeans prouonce correctly. It is not pronounced like the t in temper, tea, &c.; but rather like the sharp th of apathy, sympathy, Athens, apothecary. Those who watch a native's tongue while pronouncing this letter, will find that the rule for attaining this sound is, to apply the tongue, not to the root, but to the top of the teeth, and hardly emit a.


Has two sounds, one simple, as that in wind? &c., e.g., wai, water, waka, a canoe, ware, a plebeian.

2. An aspirated w, as in when, where, &c.; whai, follow, whare, a house, &c.


The speaker should be careful, in uttering this sound not to separate the n from the g, as is sometimes done by foreigners. The n and g intimately coalesce, and those who have learned to pronounce the French encore will find no difficulty in catching it. The following rule will, we trust, help the beginner.

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Press the middle of the tongue to the roof of the mouth, near the throat, and simultaneously relax the pressure, and pronounce na. Of course care must be taken that the tip of the tongue does not touch the palate.*

Following is a table setting forth a few of the variations in pronunciation of the leading dialects of New Zealand.

It will be observed that the name of a place is employed to denote the dialect for which that place and its vicinity are remarkable.

Ngapuhi. Waikato. East Cape. Rotorua. Taupo. Taranaki.
Keri Keri Kari Kari Kari
Tatou Tatou Tatau Tatau Tatou & Tatau Tatou
Matou Matou Matau Matau Matou & Tatau Matou
Ratou Ratou Ratau Ratau Ratou & Tatau Ratou
Koro & Korua Korua
Koutou Koutou Koutau Koutau Koutou & Koutau Koutou
Taua or Tao Taua Taua Taua
Maua or Mao Maua Maua Maua
Raua or Rao Raua Raua Roua
Hei Hei Hai Hai Hai & Hei Ei
Kei Kei Kai Kai Kai & Kei Kei
Tutei Tutai Tuai Tutai Tutai Tutei
Wha Wa
Maoa Maia Maoa Maia & Maoa
Hohou Whawhau Hohou & Whawhua O-ou
Teina Teina Taina Taina Teina Teina
Tarai Tarai Tarei Tarei Tarai
Heoi Heoti Heoti Eoi & Eoti
Kua Kua Koua Kua & Koua Ku
Kia Kia Kia Kia Kia Ki
Horo Hohoro O-oro
Topa Tao Tao Tao
Roa Ro
Tonu Tonu Tou

See also the letters ng and h.