Kōrero Whīwhiwhi – Te Reo Māori Tongue Twisters

Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori comes around every year and it is an opportunity for us as a country to collectively celebrate this taonga of ours, the Māori Language. It is a chance for us to raise awareness and provide opportunities to learn and use Te Reo Māori.

Te Reo Māori is the indigenous oral and written language Māori used to communicate between one another. It holds great insight to life in the old days and it reveals our great connection to the land. A whakataukī that describes the importance of Te Reo Māori is he aha te kai a te rangatira? He kōrero, he kōrero, he kōrero, what is the food of the chiefs? It is knowledge, it is discussion and it is words. Language sustained our ancestors like food would, it gave energy and nourishment to keep us going forward. In our present day, emphasising the value of Te Reo Māori is what fuels our language revitalisation!

Besides having all the same serious and significant features of other indigenous languages there were Te Reo Māori word games that kept minds quick and tongues sharp. These games were often played in groups and once all the work was done. They are known by many names such as pepe takimanawa, panga, tātai whetū or pū manawa. A phrase, a complicated sentence or a long place name would be memorised and recited at speed, without making mistake or stumbling on any words.

In any language this is a challenge but because it is Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori, here are some examples in Te Reo Māori for you to give a go.

He kōrapa te hapa o Pāpā x3


He whā tāwhara ki wāwe kiko tāmure ki tai x3


Turiwētaitai, turiwētautau kia tau kia mau x3


Kutukutu ketuketu tukutuku tukua tonuitia ki taku tekoteko x3


Koia te hōia i tōia e te rōia, ka moea e Poia, ka rere ki Mokoia x3

This next one is a whakataukī that is used a lot in conversation for its meaning something is better than nothing. The structure and sounds in the words make this one quite tricky when said quickly!

Engari te ngaringari i kore rawa te korekore

Also did you know that we have the longest place name here in Aotearoa? It has a lot of letters in it, 85 in fact. It is the name of a hill located near Pōrangahau in the North Island. It means the place where Tamatea, the man with the big knees, who slid, climbed and swallowed mountains, known as ‘Land Eater’, played his flute to his loved one. When I was at school, reciting this as an exercise was a very common way for us to start our Te Reo Māori class!

maungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu (X3)

Anei, here are some sentences that you can challenge your whānau with this week. See who has the best memory and pronunciation between you. Then when you get really good, try doing them in one breath!

Tūwhitia te hopo, mairangatia te angitu! – Feel the fear and do it anyway!

Māia – Māori Library Services

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