Alexa gets Māori wake-up call about world’s longest place name

updated By Taroi Black
Video / Te Reo Māori Launchpad (Facebook)

Amazon Alexa is getting a real lesson from passionate te reo Māori users on social media when pronouncing the longest place name in the world, which happens to be from Hawke's Bay.

On Friday, Te Reo Māori Launchpad posted a video on Facebook in which the Amazon virtual assistant was asked, “Alexa, what is the longest place name?”

Alexa's answer was, "The longest place name in an English speaking country is a hill in New Zealand called Taumata whakatangi hangakoauau o tamatea turi pukakapiki maunga horo nuku pokai whenua kitanatahu."

It is 'her' mispronunciation of the Māori place name that has seen the video go viral and rack up hundreds of comments.

One Facebook user said, “All I heard was, Tinny te tangy tar eke my tutu we tin key tee tydolla sign.”

The video was shared on the platform in an effort to promote New Zealand’s indigenous and official language.

Despite some of the critics on social media, Alexa has impressed a few individuals. Some say the device gave it a good attempt.  

“People are giving Alexa crap....but how many people in this country can actually pronounce it correctly?” another user remarked.

Photo / newzealand.com

The place with the longest name in the world is situated in the small settlement of Pōrangahau in Hawke's Bay.  The ancient story behind the name is reflected in its translation as, "The place where Tamatea, the man with the big knees, who slid, climbed and swallowed mountains, known as 'landeater’, played his flute to his loved one."

Locals like to call the place simply ‘Taumata Hill’. It is a must-stop tourist destination for whānau making their visit to the Hawke's Bay over the summer holidays.

Meanwhile, Alexa continues to receive a mix of responses from the public, one saying, “It's actually pretty impressive... she gave it a crack.”

Te Ao approached Amazon for comment. In reply, the company said it will work on improving the customer experience.

"Thanks for bringing this to our attention. To date, we have incorporated Māori skills, including the Stolen Stars of Matariki, along with many Māori nouns and place names.

"We will continue to work on adding more features and improving the experience for our customers," an Amazon spokesperson told Te Ao.

This article has been updated to include comment from Amazon.