Language family: Malay-Polynesian
Language Group: Polynesian
Geographical use: New Zealand and the Cook islands
Information: Because of the geographical
isolation of New Zealand, Maori has developed independently from other
Polynesian languages. It has 5
vowels (that can be short or long) and 10 consonants (h, k, m, n, ng,
p, r, t, w, and wh). These consonants can also be double (eg. mm, ww,
Maori uses particles that can represent various grammatical functions and are mostly placed just before or after the words they qualify. These particles more or less correspond to our prepositions, conjunctions and articles.
Maori is full of metaphors and expressions. This way differences in meaning can become smaller and a consensus can be more easily reached. These metaphors and expressions are of strategic importance.
Maori was first written down by European missionaries in the beginning of the 19th century. It was only recognized as an official language of New Zealand in 1987. Only 50,000 to 100,000 Maori speak the language fluently (less than 30% of the Maori population). In 1987 special schools were created to teach Maori to the children in order for them to rediscover their cultural identity.