An Austronesian language and a member of the Eastern Malayo-Polynesian group of languages, spoken by some 100,000 speakers in New Zealand, where it is one of the official and national languages.
The first Maori grammar appeared in 1815 and in the 1820s a phonetic script for the language was devised in Cambridge. Today Maori is spoken in a number of regional dialects, differing mainly in phonological details and in the lexicon. The main dialects are North Auckland, South Island, Taranaki and Wanganui.
English has had a considerable effect on the Maori vocabulary, but an increasing number of Maori words have come to be used in contemporary New Zealand English as well. Maori is taught as an optional second language in schools. It is also regularly used on official occasions and modern Maori literature is developing fast.
CLASSIFICATION = Austronesian family, SCRIPT = Roman