Te Reo With Mnemonics: Nature Words

Wind/Breeze – mātangi

A roaring gust of wind pulls up into the shape of a wild mustang.

Cloud – kapua

A mist floats through a section, and when it reaches the owner’s carport underneath their house it condenses into a cloud.

shine (Sun) – whiti

Thousands of rays of light burst out of the face of the Sun, and each of the rays has a foot at the end of it. The sunshine is very feety.

Sky – rangi

A man puts a phonecall through to someone. In the sky, another man picks up a phone made of clouds and says “You rang?”

Star – whetū

In the night-time sky, a star unwraps a block of feta cheese and starts eating it.

River – awa

An explorer stops by a river to get a drink of water, when an arrow lands in the water beside him.

The Maori word for mountain – maunga – shares a m-ng- pattern with the English word mango

Mountain – maunga

From the precipice of a craggy mountain, an avalanche of mangos roll down the cliff face.

Moon – marama

In the night-time sky, shining down in the place of the Moon is the face of Marama Davidson (if you don’t know who she is, imagine the Moon’s face is smeared with marmite).

Storm/stormy – tūpuhi

Seen from an inside window, a storm sets in, so bad that it blows a man’s toupee off his head.

Thunder – whaitiri

A skyful of clouds emits a peal of thunder and then, out of the clouds, comes a squadron of fighter planes.

Land – whenua

A Land Rover drives across a wide range of different landscapes, then hits a rock and damages its fender.

Rain – ua(-ina)

It starts raining. Instead of raindrops, weiner sausages fall from the sky.


The above is an excerpt from the upcoming ‘Learn Maori Vocabulary With Mnemonics‘, by Jeff Ngatai, due to be published by VJM Publishing in the summer of 2017/18.

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