Like our placenames in Aotearoa, much of our wildlife has Maori names and some species have interchangeable Maori and English names.
I happen to be a big fan of the Maori names of New Zealand wildlife. I'd far rather say ruru than morepork, or tui than parson bird (does anyone actually say "parson bird" anymore?). I love that weta punga means "god of ugly things".
What I love the most is that many of our native birds are named for onomatopoeic reasons. A kea is easily recognised for its call often echoing across alpine valley floors or skifield carparks. So too is kiwi, for anyone who has had the privilege of hearing them calling at night.
Whio means to whistle, and that perfectly encapsulates the call of the male blue duck. Probably my favourite Maori bird name is kokako. When I started filming Meet the Locals, I was struggling with some of my Maori pronunciation. Sometimes I'd get it, sometimes my Southland roots would betray me. In particular with kokako, which was coming out KO (rhyming with "foe") - KA - KO. It wasn't until our editor (a fluent speaker of te reo) took me aside and said, "look, the kokako is named for its beautiful voice", that I clicked. If any of you have heard the soulful, haunting call of the kokako, you'll understand what I mean... From that point on, my pronunciation problems were pretty much solved, and I grew to love the music of the Maori language, especially when it came to our native birds.
The good folk at Zealandia have come up with this video to describe the native birds found there and to test/teach you on whether or not you know the Maori names. It's a great wee vid, and I found I have plenty of names to learn. Have a look below... How did you get on? Did you know many of them? What's your favourite Maori wildlife name?
ALSO: Fan of this blog? Voting has also opened in the NetGuide Web Awards so click here. Scroll to the bottom of the page, look for 'best blog' category and enter this link http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/blogs/in-our-nature
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