New Zealand has one of the world's longest place names, but can you pronounce it? video

WARWICK SMITH/STUFF

The meaning of and attempts at saying New Zealand's longest place name, near Porangahau in southern Hawkes Bay.

Taumatawhakatangi­hangakoauauotamatea­turipukakapikimaunga­horonukupokaiwhen­uakitanatahu.

It's one of the longest place names in the world and it's right here in New Zealand.

Locals are experts at pronouncing it, but what does your attempt sound like?

Taumatawhakatangi­hangakoauauotamatea­turipukakapikimaunga­horonukupokaiwhen­uakitanatahu is a hill near the town of Porangahau, south of Waipukurau in southern Hawke's Bay, New Zealand.

Porangahau School student Lucy McCutcheon said she learnt how to say it at the age of seven. 

"It was a bit rocky at the start.  I learnt to say it fluently when I was nine."

Billy Jackson, 12, of Porangahau School shows us how to say the 89-letter place name.
WARWICK SMITH/STUFF

Billy Jackson, 12, of Porangahau School shows us how to say the 89-letter place name.

Living in the area she said you just got used to saying the word, but it was still a novelty for friends and family who came to visit. 

But she was proud to be able to pronounce it. "I'm very proud."

Porangahau School teacher aid and kapa haka teacher Maymorn Hynes said she had lived in Porangahau for most of her life, besides a short stint in Australia. 

Lucy McCucheon, 11, and Billy Jackson, 12, of Porangahau School have their pronunciation spot on. Do you?
WARWICK SMITH/STUFF

Lucy McCucheon, 11, and Billy Jackson, 12, of Porangahau School have their pronunciation spot on. Do you?

When she learnt to say the longest place name she learnt it in a song first.  "It's quite a mouthful but you get used to it." 

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The town name is almost a story in a word, Hynes said. It comes from the story of Tamatea, who was a well known chief and explorer. 

He was passing through the district of Porangahau when he got into a battle, in which his brother was killed. 

Why I learned te reo Māori

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Tamatea was so grief-stricken at this loss he stayed for some time at that place and each morning he would sit on the knoll to play a lament on his Koauau, a Māori flute. 

The name is translated from the sentence "hence the name indicating the hill on which Tamatea, the chief of great physical stature and renown, played a lament on his flute to the memory of his brother."

A new sign was erected 10 years ago to try to make the area more prominent and Hynes said she thought it was important to showcase.

The hill in Hawke's Bay has a (very long) sign in a bid to attract tourists.
WARWICK SMITH/STUFF

The hill in Hawke's Bay has a (very long) sign in a bid to attract tourists.

"I think knowing where you are from, where you belong – specific things about where you are from – are always important."

She had taught students at the school a song so they too could learn how to pronounce the name.

There were many different versions of the song, but this was one a local had written.  

Stumped by how to say this name? You aren't alone.
WARWICK SMITH/STUFF

Stumped by how to say this name? You aren't alone.

"It's easier to learn in song form." 

For more information on Māori place names, including what the names mean, visit NZ History.

As part of Te Wiki o te reo Māori, Māori Language Week, we're taking a look at why so many of us mispronounce Kiwi place names.

 - Stuff

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