Piwakawaka Mini Te Mära Reo ~ The Language Garden


This stage is represented by the name tawhiwhi, shared in Aotearoa by the köhühü, Pittosporum tenuifolium (below) and the climber Parsonsia heterophylla (also known as kaihua, among other names), which we do not yet have in the garden.

yyyyyyyy This tree is partly obscured by its neighbours, but the if the name cylinder is missing, you can check out the leaves, illustrated below!


The next journey is long enough in itself, over the open sea in an ocean-going waka -- over a thousand kilometres in a straight line, and even longer on the roads of the winds and currents, but it is just the beginning of that to the last habitable lands yet to be reached by humanity.

To go on to the last stop before Aotearoa
-- a sojourn in Rarotonga -- click here!

To go back to Stage 10 (Central Eastern Polynesian)
click here!


"Time travel walk" - Stage 11

Proto Tahitic (about 1,000 years ago)

For about 500 years after the discovery of Hawaii, there was another rest period in the development of the Mäori language. Hawaii seems to have been settled, initially at least, primarily from the Marquesas, and the languages which developed in those parts of Polynesia came to have a little more in common with each other than with the lingua franca of the islands to the south and west, centred on Tahiti. Some time towards the end of this period voyagers from this part of Polynesia encountered Aotearoa, probably sailing southwest from Rarotonga and using the Kermadec Islands as a depot and staging post. After that, distance again took its toll, and the dialects developing in the Tuamotus and Rarotonga would eventually become separate languages. In the meantime, however, we have a language centred on Tahiti through which new words and meanings, including plant names, become incorporated into the speech of people in all these areas.

One of the words which can be traced to a probable origin in this period is tawhiwhi. It is an alternative name for two plants, the climber Parsonsia heterophylla (a relative of one of its Tahitian namesakes), and the tree Pittosporum tenuifolium. Both bear scented flowers in profusion (the Pittosporum's aroma is most noticeable in the evenings, perhaps the better to attract moths). We have quite a number of these trees scattered around the garden, most of the mature ones obtained from the Puketaha Trust, a local organization which for some years ran a course to prepare young people for a career in in horticulture. The official "Stage 11" tree, pictured on the left, is one of these.

To read more about the names, and the plants associated with them, click on the links below.

*Tafifi (Proto Tahitic form)

Tawhiwhi (Modern Mäori)

To travel the next thousand kilometres on foot, just look to your left and eight metres away you will see the symbol of the next and final stop on the linguistic journey towards Aotearoa.


To sail there in virtual reality, or stay still geographically but retreat a hundred years or so, press the link of your choice at the end of the column opposite.



Hue flower

Te Mära Reo, c/o Benton Family Trust, "Tumanako", RD 1, Taupiri, Waikato 3791, Aotearoa / New Zealand
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 New Zealand License.