How to Pronounce Māori

Within this section you will learn the basics of pronouncing Māori.  Throughout the website we use a macron such as ā to indicate a long vowel sound, this will be explained in more detail under the vowels section.

We acknowledge that there are a number of dialect differences that are not covered in this website or reflected in the video recordings that appear throughout Māori  These variations are found regionally throughout the country but do not prevent an understanding or use of the language.

There are 15 distinct sounds within the Māori alphabet. They are:

five vowels: a, e, i, o, u

eight consonants: h, k, m, n, p, r, t, w

two digraphs (two letters that combine to form one sound): wh, ng


There are 5 vowels in Māori – a, e, i, o and u. Each vowel can be pronounced short or long. We use a macron (a bar appearing over a vowel to indicate it is lengthened during pronunciation) to indicate a long vowel - ā, ē, ī, ō, ū.

Combinations of vowels (diphthongs) are common , examples of dipthongs are; au, ao, ea, ia, ou, oa.

a, (short vowel) papa (earth)

ā, (long vowel) pāpā (father)

e, (short vowel) kete (kit)

ē, (long vowel) pēke (bag )

i, (short vowel) mihi (greeting)

ī, (long vowel) tītī (mutton bird)

o, (short vowel) oma (run)

ō, (long vowel) (your)

u, (short vowel) huruhuru (hair)

ū, (long vowel) tūrū (chair)


There are 10 consonant sounds in Te Reo Māori.

h, harakeke (flax)

k, karu (eye)

m, mā (white)

n, namu (sandfly)

p, parāoa (bread)

r, rangi (sky, day)

t, tama (boy)

w, waka (canoe, means of transport)

Consonents – Digraphs

There are 2 digraph (two letters that combine to form one sound) in Te Reo Māori.

ng, ngahuru (autumn)

wh, whānau (family)

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