What languages are spoken in New Zealand?
English is the common and everyday language of New Zealand. New Zealand is a multi-cultural society and you may hear many other languages spoken, including Maori. Many of the place names in New Zealand are Maori, and the Maori Language is also recognized as an official language. As a result, you will see th Maori translation of English for public places, buildings and offices on all official signs. There are only fifteen letters in the Maori alphabet: A E H I K M N O P R T U W NG and WH. Every syllable in Maori ends in a vowel, which makes the proportion of vowels to consonants much higher than in English. The vowel sounds are therefore of great importance. The following list should be learned by hears: A is always pronounced as the a in 'rather' E is always pronounced as the e in 'ten' I is always pronounced like the ee in 'seen' O is always pronounced like the o in 'border' U is always pronounced like the oo in 'bloom' When two vowels come together, each is given its proper sound. The compound consonants ng and wh are the two stumbling blocks in the way of correct pronunciation. The sound ng is that of the middle ng in the word 'singing'. Note that in the South Island, the ng is usually replaced by k; for example, Aorangi becomes Aoraki. The sound wh is usually pronounced asf. This is not the correct sound, which has been described asf, but without letting the top teeth touch the lower lip. If you cannot manage this, the sound off will pass muster. These are simple rules, but if they are mastered, you will never again be guilty of referring to Te Awamutu as 'Tee-Amoot" or to Wanganui as "Wangganuee". We believe that it is important to have some knowledge of the language. It facilitates comunicaitons with New Zealanders and it helps to remember and describe the places visited.

 

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