Maori alphabet has only 20 letters, consisting of English alphabets a, e, h, i, k, m, n, o, p, r, t, u, w, ng and wh. The other 5 alphabets are long vowels, which include a horizontal stroke above the vowels.
There is a catchy song to the tune of ‘Stupid Cupid’ that they used in kindergarten and pre-school to teach children how to pronounce Maori. Feels a little like in a kindergarten.
I had friends who took up Maori course in University to learn the language and understand the Maori culture better. The first time I heard this song was them singing in our hall courtyard. The song just sticks in your head for good.
Also, it is useful to learn how to pronounce basic Maori words. Many places in New Zealand use Maori names, only the bigger cities have English names. Besides, it is nice to learn a little of a new language.
How to pronounce Maori vowels?
A – E – I – O – U
Sounds like: Are there three or two?
Pronounce NG as in siNGer.
Pronounce WH as an F.
Lyrics for ‘Stupid Cupid’ Maori Alphabet Song
A haka mana para tawa ngawha
E heke mene pere tewe ngewhe
I hiki mini piri tiwi ngiwhi
O hoko mono poro towo ngowho
A – E – I – O – U (sounds like “are there three or two”)
U huku munu puru tuwu nguwhu
Practice a few times with the sing-along, and you probably get the hang of Maori pronunciation.
Maori Alphabet Song (Version 2)
Think you need more practice?
Try this challenging ‘reverse’ version on your own. Sing to the tune of Stupid Cupid too.
U whungu wutu rupu numu kuhu
O whongo woto ropo nomo koho
I whingi witi ripi nimi kihi
E whenge wete repe neme kehe
U – O – I – E – A (sounds like “you for me em-ma”)
A whanga wata rapa nama kaha