Confidence is on the way for people struggling with Maori words after a pronunciation app was launched yesterday.

It was introduced on the same day as a video that slammed people who mangled te reo place names.

The app, Te kete o Tāmaki Makaurau, was created by the Department of Conservation to help people identify places, animals and plants in the Tāmaki Makaurau/Auckland region.

DoC spokeswoman Julie Kidd said the idea stemmed from her personal experience of feeling unconfident pronouncing Maori words. She wanted to improve and thought others might feel the same way.


"If you haven't been taught how to say them correctly in te reo it's quite overwhelming to be able to do that off the bat.

"The beauty of it [the app] is it speaks to you. It has given me confidence. I literally put my finger on it and it speaks back to me. So I'm thrilled."

A friendly fantail, or piwakawaka, as the Te kete o Tāmaki Makaurau app will tell you. PHOTO/Terry Oliver-Ward
A friendly fantail, or piwakawaka, as the Te kete o Tāmaki Makaurau app will tell you. PHOTO/Terry Oliver-Ward

Actor Hana Botha posted a video on her Facebook page about failed pronunciation that went viral.

She said it "honestly boggles my mind how many people don't even attempt it [correct te reo pronunciation]".

Botha listed commonly mispronounced place names such as Tauranga, Rotorua, Matamata and Taupo.

She would often repeat the word back to someone with the correct pronunciation if they had said it incorrectly in conversation.

"When someone says it back to you correctly, something in your brain automatically goes 'That's not what came out of my mouth, that sounds different from what came out of my mouth, that's the correct way to say it.'

Kidd said the app has around 100 entries for greetings, place names, animals, plants and a small section on how to use Maori vowels. It also has blurbs of information for popular places and plays bird song when you search the corresponding bird.


Kidd said it was "incredibly important" for DoC to promote Maori language as iwi are their number one partners who they work with daily. She said the organisation works to safeguard the 2280 protected species in New Zealand, many of which have Maori names, and people should know how to pronounce those correctly.

"Piwakawaka, it's such a beautiful name. Why would you want to call it a fantail?"

"They're native species. They are from Aotearoa. We should know how to say those places and species correctly."