Similarities Between Māori and Japanese

September is the Māori Language Month in New Zealand.

One of the things that I am really fascinated about the Māori language is its similarities with my first language, Japanese.

Even though I am well aware that the Māori language took a very different journey from Japanese, I sometimes wonder if the two languages somehow interacted with each other a long, long time ago.

The vowels (a, e, i, o, u) are practically identical though some of the Māori diphthongs (combinations of two vowels) can be tricky for Japanese speakers to pronounce.

The Māori consonants are very similar to Japanese, too, except for a few sounds such as the nasal ‘ng’ and ‘wh’ that is pronounced like the English ‘f’.

Some of the vocabulary are very similar as well as you can see in the table below:

MaoriJapanese
Ana (cave)Ana (あな): hole; “hora-ana”is a cave
Kōura (crayfish)Koura (こうら): shell of a crayfish, crab, etc.
Tuki (to ram, bump, crash into)Tsuki (つき; 突き): to ram, poke, etc.
*The standard form is ‘tsuku’ (つく; 突く)
Puku (stomach)Puku: stomach in expressions such as man-puku (まんぷく; 満腹: full stomach)
Kura (tank, container)Kura (くら; 蔵): storehouse
Awa (river)Kawa (かわ; 川): river
Tokotoko (cane, to walk with a stick)Tokotoko (とことこ): onomatopoeia for the sound of walking fast in short steps
Pakipaki (to clap)Pachipachi (パチパチ): onomatopoeia for the clapping sound
Ika (fish)Ika (いか; squid)

Finally, I stumbled upon this article by the Asia Media Centre yesterday. I wanted to share it with you as it was a great read.

According to the Perceptions of Asia and Asian Peoples from a Te Ao Māori Perspective survey, “Japan was seen as the country that shared the most culturally similar views and values to Māori”.

No wonder I feel at home in Aotearoa!

Eishi (Hiroshi) Attempts to Speak in Māori!!!

Kia ora, e hoa mā! (Hello, friends!)

Here in New Zealand, September is the Māori Language Month (Mahuru Māori), so I have decided to post my pepeha (self-introduction) on my YouTube channel to take part in this special occasion!

The Māori culture is an oral tradition just like the rakugo tradition, so I have always been fascinated by the immense richness of te reo Māori me ōna tikanga (Māori language and its protocols) since I moved to New Zealand.

My Māori is very limited, so I probably made some mistakes in grammar, pronunciation, etc. in the video. Please kindly comment below to correct if you spotted any so I can improve my reo!

In my household, my Pākehā (NZ European) wife and I try to use Māori as much as possible, and my children now can recite karakia (Māori prayer) before meals.

I will keep learning this beautiful language and culture to deepen my understanding of this world, oral tradition, and rakugo.

Ngā mihi nui ki a koutou katoa! (Greetings to you all!)

#MahuruMaori #TeWikioteReoMāori, #MāoriLanguageWeek #1MirionaTihau #1MirionaTweets #1miriona