Monday, January 23, 2017

Book every New Zealander should own


Māori Place Names: Their meanings and origins. Fourth Edition
by A.W.Reed.  Revised by Peter Dowling

This guide was initially published in 1950 by Reed Books under the title Maori Place Names and  their Meanings. It has had 19 reprints across four editions, each one attempting to provide a more comprehensive guide to Maori place names and pronunciation, and to migrate the use of macrons into the written language to denote long vowel sounds. Revising editor Peter Dowling of Oratia Press includes a short foreword that acknowledges the growth and evolution of the written language over the past 20 years.
    With over 2300 entries, this digest examines the basic translations and also provides a guide to commonly used words within the place names, such as maunga, puke, roto and wai.
   This is a book which every New Zealander should own. Since some of the locales’ names have evolved over time to include coastal and marine names – for example Te Tai-o-Marokura – the book’s Fourth Edition is designed to keep readers abreast of the correct references to these places.
    There is a wealth of information in this edition. For example, what is New Plymouth’s Māori name? How should we pronounce and spell what was formerly Wanganui? The guide explains that preference should prevail, but that the regional pronunciation of ‘wh’ was originally ‘w’, and was subsequently written that way on the historical record. Either spelling or pronunciation can be used officially for the city, but the reader at least has the knowledge as to the difference. What is also interesting about this guide is how deeply entrenched in our language some places names are, and how, in other cases, the transition to their use has been slower to uptake.
    Some entries are accompanied by short anecdotes or historical facts. To round out the guide, illustrations by James Berry are found throughout, as featured in the 1950 edition. Berry was a notable coin and stamp designer, and his excellence in graphic design is evident in this guide. 

Flaxflower Review by Katherine Stewart
Title: Māori Place Names: Their Meaning And Origins. Fourth Edition
Author: A.W. Reed. Revised by Peter Dowling
Publisher: Oratia Books
ISBN: 978-0-947506-08-7
RRP: $29.99
Available: bookshops

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