Haere mai to New Zealand, the Land of the Long White Cloud – Part 2

Posted: January 29, 2013 in Maori Culture, New Zealand English
Tags: ,

This second lesson about New Zealand is about the Māori and their language. Use this lesson as a preparation for the learners to give a small talk about their own culture and language.

Start the lesson by getting learners to read the text about the Māori language and traditions (see Figure 1) and to  answer the following questions:

  1. Why would visitors to New Zealand feel confused on their arrival?Maori man
  2. How similar is Māori to English?
  3. How many vowels are there in Māori? What about consonants?
  4. What’s the difference between Tena koe and Tena koutou?
  5. How many people speak Māori in New Zealand according to the article?
  6. Why do you think the Māori have many traditions?
  7. What does the word marae mean?
  8. What is the haka?
  9. What is the Maui legend about?

Figure 1

Give feedback on the answers and then get the learners to mingle and talk to each other about which aspects of Māori culture  they find the most interesting.

Then, focus the learners on the pronunciation of Māori vowels and consonants by using the video below.

Maori Language


After that, tell the learners that you going to give them the lyrics of a well-known New Zealand folk song, Pokarekare Ana. Get them to read the lyrics and their English translation.

Give the learners time to focus on the different words of the song. Encourage them to use the information from the video to pronounce the Māori words in the song. Go over the footnotes with the class and then, for a bit of fun, get the learners to sing along to the song.

Finally, get the learners to prepare a small talk of approximately 3 minutes about their own culture. To do this, write up some ideas on the board for the learners to consider. For example:

  • history and geography
  • language and traditions
  • food and drink
  • indigenous people
  • fauna and flora
  • national symbols
  • legends

To add an element of challenge and to motive the learners to compare their own pronunciation to English, get them to include in their presentations some information about sounds in their own language which are similar and different to English. For example, Portuguese speakers would have no problem using the words banana and zebra in an English context, but would probably be misunderstood when saying radio, which they would probably pronounce with an ‘h’ rather than an ‘r’ consonant sound and with /a:/ vowel sound not a /ei/ diphthong.

Hopefully, this lesson  will trigger an interesting discussion about culture and  pronunciation with your class.


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