This young man is on a mission to set something right 26



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A school project that has been viewed almost 200,000 times on YouTube has made such an impact on us here at Starts at 60. We are blown away by the passion and eloquence of this young man as he implores his countrymen to change their behaviour.

Finnian is a 15-year-old student from Paraparaumu, in New Zealand’s North Island and the topic of his speech is “The importance of pronouncing Maori words correctly”.

“Don’t you hate it when people pronounce things wrong?” he said.

“Isn’t it just so … annoying? Oh and of course, people pronouncing your own name wrong. Don’t you just hate that?”

Finnian elegantly lays out the evidence for his case, pointing out the media’s laziness, people’s lack of interest and the racial prejudices that prevent people from making the effort to learn the correct pronunciation for Maori words.

“The Maori language is a huge part of our heritage and is an official language of our country, along with English and sign language. Culture is priceless and is something that should be embraced.”

Finnian explains that he was taught Maori language at school and that it isn’t too difficult to grasp, which is an easy thing for a 15-year-old to say. But the he makes a very valid point: “Now I’m no expert in this and I don’t claim to be and I know I don’t always get it right, but I give it a go and I’m willing to learn and that is what counts,” he said.

We’ll leave it to Finnian to explain the reasons why it’s so important his countrymen learn to speak a little Maori, and why he doesn’t want New Zealand to end up like Australia.

Don’t you think he is a remarkable young man? Do you agree with what he has to say?

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. Iff he was my grandson he would top off the class i would think and who ever grandson this young man is should be proud i know i would be……..

  2. Remarkable young man. I was lucky enough to sit next to a school teacher on a long overseas flight,and he taught me the correct pronunciation and spelling of that meeting place in the front . Have it written down at home.

  3. Yes, some of the hardest people to understand are English! A few speak with perfection, many others are lazy in their drawl and we have no idea what they are saying.

    1 REPLY
    • Absolutely some people don’t speak clearly and it is hard to understand them – I wonder what this young man would think if I told him that a large percentage of English speakers find his English accent hard to decipher. New Zealanders clip their speech and mispronounce their English …….. Now the Maori, as a teaching tutor of English as a Second Language, and having learnt a second language myself, the answer is not the correct pronounciation for specific words – the answer is to LEARN the language and speak it, regardless of how it sounds. Eventually it all melts down and you have people speaking – the main thing is to have the tone, rhythm, and grammar in place.

  4. A very remarkable young man. NZ does seem to have more respect for its indigenous, but it may be because Australia is so large and the indigenous are spread all over. It would be great if kids could learn it in primary school. We did and learned about culture and stick games etc and beautiful Maori music.

  5. Before visiting NZ I looked up how to pronounce some of the names of places we were to visit so we could at least try and get it right. He is right we should all be be proud of our country’s culture and try to preserve it.

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