MAONZE Project Summary

Surprisingly little systematic research has been carried out into the pronunciation te reo Mäori, a taonga, the language of the indigenous people of New Zealand, which distinguishes NZ from the rest of the world. This project rectifies this situation. We will analyse the pronunciation of fluent native Mäori speakers of earlier generations, made possible through an archive of recordings of speakers born in the late 19th century, and compare these with modern speakers of Mäori of different ages. This analysis will show how pronunciation of the Mäori language has adapted over time in on-going interaction with English while retaining its own character. The early speakers came from different regions in New Zealand and the modern speakers will be matched to them. This will enable us to track dialect differences and changes over time. International research will be considerably advanced since no other indigenous language has been subject to a longitudinal analysis which reveals change in pronunciation over time. Implications of the findings for language revitalisation efforts will also be considered.

This project started in January 2004