Native Affairs – It's Kaikōura not Kai-cow-ra

“Actually, did you know it’s Kaikōura?” That’s what the children of Kaikōura Suburban Primary School are sharing with their town locals who they say don’t realise they’re pronouncing Kaikōura different.

Around 20 children aged 6 to 8 years old began their mission after the November 2016 earthquake that isolated the northern Canterbury seaside town.

“We saw lots of people on TV say Kai Kora,” said 8 year-old Kade Timms.

“We wanted to spread the word…especially to the relationship with Māori by learning accurate or as close to accurate as possible pronunciation of Kaikōura,” said Jacob Dunnet (7).

So they did. The children, along with their teacher Rebecca Macer, surveyed 100 locals. Just 39% got it right. Macer says, “They (the students) have driven this and they just love it. They’re so proud.”

65-year-old Kaikōura Mayor Winston Gray said he’s only ever known it to be ‘Kai Kora’. He told Native Affairs he supports the students’ mission. “I think it puts it out there, people start learning. It might take time for that change to go through.”

If the survey wasn’t enough the children then enlisted the help of Kaitoko Mātauranga Rawiri Manawatu to compose a song that can help spread the word. They’ve since taught it to all 12 schools in Kaikōura.

“I’ve always believed that our next generation are our promoters of our Māoritanga. That’s where it starts. It starts with our tamariki,” Manawatu said.

The youngest student of the class Amelia Burra sums it up perfectly.

“By pronouncing it correctly we give Kaikōura’s name mana, and the story behind it that can teach the future generations correctly. Kia manawanui.”