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Project Tā Tairāwhiti Mita

Just a quick follow-up on my previous post ‘Te mita a Ngati Porou‘. I was further discussing this topic with a colleague from Ngati Porou the other day and we were talking about the many different hapū within Te Tairāwhiti and how this might have had an influence or affect on standardization or dialectical variation of te reo within the region, if any. One thread of discussion considered common connections through geneaological ancestry among the different hapū and what role this may have played over time in this development of the language spoken in the Ngāti Porou region.

The research question I pose considers if their is a common standardized language in the Ngāti Porou district despite the diversity of hapū clans or are there internal dialectical variations among the many different hapū within this geographical area? If yes, in reference to both considerations, then what does it look/sound like, how is it similar or different within and throughout the region and is there any comparative and contrastive differences with other tribes throughout the country. For example, in reference to the latter, my colleague said that a notable Ngāti Porou elder told him that …Tuhoe dialect was significantly different to Ngāti Porou and that reading it was a challenge and in another example, once when I was in Ngā Puhi,  I was speaking to a lady in te reo and notice a different style of speaking in her constructions, pronunciation and vocabulary, which was both marvellous and challenging to grasp at times.

With such diversity among tribal areas in te reo, as we see in these three examples, Ngāti Porou, Tūhoe and Ngā Puhi, ka toko ake i te pakirehua, is there some form of standardized te reo Māori spoken throughout the motu that enable us to converse and understand each other on many common grounds despite the differences in iwi dialect and if so, then what/who determines or governs that and what does it look/sound like. He kaupapa anō tēnei.

Hoei anō rā, e hoki anō ki taku kōrero, my current and immediate interest is in te mita a Ngāti Porou and although my colleague has amassed a huge collection of recorded interviews he did of te reo speakers in Te Tairāwhiti to analyse and interpret, it is but a beginning in a journey to discover a more comprehensive picture of the proposed research question(s). There is a plethora of other resources that are readily available and are developing that we will utilize in this work ‘Project Tā Tairāwhiti Mita’ (Project East Coast Dialect).

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