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The Coming of the Maori



A few letter changes occur among Maori tribes, who are usually descended from the same ancestral canoes, and tribal differences may be regarded as forming subdialects. The Bay of Plenty tribes descended from the Matatua canoe use the current n instead of ng as rani for rangi (sky). The Ngaitahu tribe of the South Island also have no ng but use the current k instead, as in kaika for kainga (village). The Rarawa tribe of North Auckland has a peculiar usage, inserting the vowel e after h before the following vowel, as Heongi for Hongi. Their pronunciation gives a somewhat sibilant sound to the h and may have been responsible for some of the early European writers referring to the celebrated northern chief, Hongi, as Shunghie. The tribes of the west coast of the North Island, claiming descent from the Tokomaru, Aotea, and Kurahaupo canoes, have the glottal closure for h, like the Cook Islanders and Mangarevans. The glottal closure even affects the h in the double consonant wh, leading early European writers to write ware for whare (house).

Tribal differences are recognized in the vocative form of address. The general term in Maori is E hoa (Oh friend or Oh Sir) but the east coast tribes say E hika, the northern tribes use E mora, and the Waikato people greet with E kare. Many of these tribal differences have been rounded off into a more standardized common speech and the late Bishop H. W. Williams held that it was too late to collect subdialectal differences of sufficient value to form a guide to affinities with islands in Polynesia.