Te reo Māori: The Basics Explained is a new book by Nelson-based writer David Kārena-Holmes.
Using everyday language, the book is intended to serve as a handy guide to the main differences between te reo Māori and the English language in the ways in which sentences are constructed.
Published by Oratia, this book will be a useful companion to te reo Māori students and teachers at any level of proficiency.
David (left) says that when he started learning our indigenous language in 1982 with his wife Shirley Kārena (whose parents were first-language speakers) he had no intention of teaching. “I just wanted to learn,” he says.
In 1987, however, he was asked to join a team of tutors at the Otago Polytechnic, and found his colleagues were all first-language te reo Māori speakers who came from the Far North, and spoke te reo with instinctive correctness. But for many students in the immersion courses and night-classes – second-language learners who came from a wide range of backgrounds – getting a good understanding of the basic grammatical differences between te reo Māori and English was important to their progress.
This new volume builds on David’s previous books on the subject published in the 1990s: Grammar Basics: English- Māori (1993), and Māori Language: Understanding the Grammar (1995, 1997, 2006, and 2009).
In the introduction to the book, David makes a clear case for the importance of learning grammar, quoting from Dr Karena Kelly’s essay Iti te Kupu, Nui te Kupu, Nui te Korero: The Study of the Little Details that Make the Māori Language Māori.
The concern that the language could over time become ‘’like a clone of English, a mere hybridised shadow of the vibrant language…” is clearly laid out: that a unique world view exists in the structure of a language, which connects us together and shapes how we perceive the world.
In the preface he writes:
“Sir Tïmoti Kāretu, to whom this book is dedicated, and who, as the first Commissioner of Māori Language contributed a foreword to this author’s earlier Māori Language: Understanding the Grammar, has frequently stressed the need for learners of te reo Māori to acquire a sound knowledge of the principles that govern the construction of phrases and sentences in te reo.”
Te reo Māori: The Basics Explained begins with a chapter on pronunciation and written forms of the language. Further chapters introduce the classes of base words, and the particles and determiners that guide their use. Real-life language examples are also given to help strengthen learning.
Now, the use of te reo Māori in our everyday New Zealand life is growing, and the demand for language-learning resources is too. This useful book will be released on February 5, 2020 and you can find it on the shelves of your favourite bookshelf after that date.