Mahi Whakahua: Pronunciation exercise
Hei kai mā te hinengaro – food for thought.
The pronunciation of some local place names has been a bone of contention over the years however it may in fact be an indication or a ‘silent’ reminder of our collective history. Those who are familiar with the glottal stop will know that it is a feature of speech or a dialectal representation common in the Taranaki region. All of the tribes in Taranaki and extending as far as Whanganui use the glottal stop which is characteristic of the dropping of the ‘h’ not dissimilar to the Cook Islands whereupon it’s commonly accepted that many of the migratory waka visited and settled for a time before continuing the journey south to Aotearoa.
Given that Ngāti Tama and Te Āti Awa settled in Te Tauihu alongside the other iwi it would seem feasible that their occupation was recorded in the places that they settled giving rise to many of those sites today and the confusion regarding their correct pronunciation.
As the region also became more populated with non-Māori peoples and their lack of knowledge regarding the Māori language let alone the differences in dialect amongst those iwi, it seems logical that these sites would become targets of further confusion and falling victim to mispronunciation which would eventually become the ‘the norm’.
Here are some local examples of place names;
|Commonly accepted name:
Waimea / Waimeha
Mahitahi / Maitai
Rai / Rahi
|Glottal stop – (‘)
Rigel (Puanga) star cluster
dilute, weak, insipid (water)
While the debate will rage on regarding the correct pronunciation of these place names, I believe there is ample evidence to suggest these place names are an indication of our linguistic footprint that is of Taranaki origin.