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Reo Tuhi - Written Maori

NewspapersMaori language is a traditionally oral language. Its written form has developed over the last two centuries. Its role has become more important with the growth of Maori-medium (Maori immersion) education and the regeneration of Maori language.

A standard written form of Maori language continues to be developed.

Tohuto - Macrons

One of the key features of written Maori is the macron. A macron is a small horizontal line placed above a vowel to indicate a long vowel sound e.g. Maori, tohuto (macron), ropu (group). It is a pronunciation aid and is particularly useful for helping learners of the language become familiar with stress, intonation and emphasis.

The macron is also a spelling convention which in some cases has the effect of changing the meaning of a word e.g.

matua = father
matua = parents
panga = puzzle
panga = effect
maro = apron
maro = hard
ana = cave
ana = there
pahu = bark
pahu = explode


Written literature

There is a growing body of Maori literature. Maori-medium or immersion Maori language education is increasing the demand for a range of high quality literature written for recreational and educational purposes. Written resources can now be found in most libraries, on the internet, and in children’s and adult literature.

Recording the culture

There is a wealth of historical writings in Maori which can be found at libraries, in public and private archives and at tertiary institutions. Writing in Maori is very important as a modern day form of recording history and capturing cultural knowledge, fulfilling the demands of life in contemporary society today and tomorrow.