Not everyone has the time, capacity, funds or means to attend classes (physical or online) to learn te reo Māori. And in some cases, a lot of classes have long waiting lists or simply don't have the capacity to enrol new students at a time convenient to your schedule. The good news is you can still learn te reo Māori without being in a classroom setting (although I would still recommend face-to-face learning and full immersion as the most effective way to learn any language).
There are many ways you can introduce te reo Māori into your home and start learning from resources created to help you learn in your own time and in manageable chunks. Here is a list of highly-recommended resources by learners that can help you on your learning journey.
CATEGORY: BOOKS, AUDIO BOOKS
The best-selling Māori Made Easy language guides by Scotty Morrison (Ngāti Whakaue) is a great start for beginners, providing a lot of basic words and phrases to use in everyday life. Scotty Morrison (and his wife Stacey) have published numerous books to help you learn te reo Māori for multiple contexts.
Māori Made Easy is also available in audio, voiced by the author himself. You can listen to Scotty, repeat after him, and practise words and phrases to accelerate confidence and knowledge.
This is the ultimate, one-stop resource for anyone wanting to learn the basics of the Māori language.
CATEGORY: ONLINE, APP
I use this app DAILY to look up the meanings of kupu, or even to check spelling and macron placement. Not only does it have definitions, but it will often provide examples of using words/phrases in context, AND they even have pronunciation audio for all the words 🔊
This podcast by Te Wānanga o Aotearoa has hundreds of episodes, and each one delves deep into kaupapa around tikanga, kupu, kīwaha (sayings), whakataukī/whakatauākī (proverbs), iwi specific kōrero, waiata (songs), and much more. Each episode is around 45 minutes long, and presented in a mix of English and te reo Māori. There is always something new to learn in each episode, and the presenters and featured guests have a wealth of knowledge to share.
CATEGORY: ONLINE, APP
This app has over 45 languages you can learn, and te reo Māori is now one of them! It is a strongly visual and easy way to pick up new vocab words. It's a really user-friendly app that uses multiple language learning techniques and repetition to help you learn at your own pace. You can commit to as little as 5 minutes a day to start filling your kete kupu (basket of vocab knowledge).
A free version is available, or you can subscribe to unlock other categories and have unlimited time.
CATEGORY: MEDIA, TV, EPISODES
Māori and Te Reo TV stream a number of programs, some fully in te reo Māori so you can get your taringa (ears) used to hearing the sounds and intonations of the language. Subtitles are also a great assistance if you're listening and watching along.
Even if you don't understand what is being said, it is vital in language learning to tune your ears to recognise the sounds and rhythm of the language, especially being spoken by native speakers. Put it on in the background while you do the dishes, cook dinner or fold washing — might as well multi-task and give those taringa a work out while doing those daily chores 😉
Watch live or on Māori Television On Demand.
If you are wanting to level up your reo and focus on how to embellish your language by drawing inspiration from the natural world and following a more traditional way of describing contexts using kupu whakarite (metaphors and similes), this is the pukapuka for you. It is PACKED with kupu whakarite that you can weave into your kōrero to draw comparison (often referencing the natural world) between characteristics, situations and people.
The book is set out with reo Māori on one side, and the English translation on the other side — perfect for learners. I have found this to be an invaluable resource when I am wanting to turn an ordinary sentence into one that has depth and a whole whakapapa (history) behind its meaning.
"He maire tū wao. A maire in the forest. The maire is a tree that stands firm and is tough to fell. In the past, it was only with an axe that one might be able to fell the maire. This kupu whakarite is for someone formidable, comparing them to the strength of a maire that stands in the forest. E.g. 'Hai aha atu māu ngā kōrero a te hunga rā. Me maire tū wao te tū, e hine. Kia kaha rā!' (Don't worry about what that lot have to say. Stand like a maire in the forest, girl. Be strong!)"
Learning a language doesn't have to feel like a chore or draining session of reading and writing. Yes, it will always feel like a brain workout, but there are ways to make it more fun and enjoyable. That's where kēmu come in — the wonderful world of play and games.
Learning with company is always a great motivator, and when laughter and competition is involved you can push your language to new heights without even feeling like it's an effort!
Kaupapa by Kura Rēhia is the board game for a bilingual Aotearoa. With 900 words included in the game, Kaupapa is your chance to have hysterical fun, use your reo and expand your Māori vocabulary at once! It is a word description game that can be played at any level - beginners can use it to learn new words, and fluent speakers can create a fast-paced, playful Māori language immersion environment.
Buy your own game to enjoy from www.speak.maori.nz
CATEGORY: BOOKS, SOCIAL MEDIA, PODCAST
Hemi Kelly (Ngati Maniapoto and Ngati Tahu-Ngati Whaoa) is a full-time lecturer in te reo Māori at the Auckland University of Technology and is passionate about the revitalsation of the Māori language and translation studies.
Hemi has an incredible talent of breaking down the language into an easy-to-understand format, and has dedicated his time and energy into creating as many resources for learners to access on their journey.
Podcast: There are also a bunch of episodes on his podcast Everyday Māori on Spotify.
On top of all the other resources, Hemi has now just started to offer online courses for beginners! Make sure to follow Everyday Māori on social media for continual educational content and updates on new resources.
Kupu by Spark is a picture to te reo Māori translation app. Users simply take a picture, Kupu will then use image recognition to identify what the object is in the picture and provide Te Reo Māori translations for the object(s).
A handy, easy-to-use app that is yet another resource to help you learn new words on the go.
Emphasising my point that "it is vital in language learning to tune your ears to recognise the sounds and rythym of the language" — waiata (songs) in te reo Māori is another way to provide your taringa (ears) with a workout by filling them with the sounds and pronunciation of the language. You may have no idea what the song is about, but just by listening to the songs you are soaking up more than you think. And in some cases, you can look up the translation for certain waiata on Google if you actually wanted to learn the meanings behind the lyrics, often in quite a poetic form.
The Waiata Reo Māori Playlist by Spotify includes 100 waiata all in te reo Māori — that's hours of background music for you to play in the background!
NZ On Air Music has curated 150 waiata reo Māori in their playlist Te Reo Māori.
So click play, sit back, and soak up the beautiful sounds of te reo Māori 🎧