Piwakawaka Mini Te Mära Reo ~ The Language Garden


You cannot miss the glossy green leaves of the mämängi in the form of Coprosma repens. The young tree pictured below, with a close-up of the foliage opposite, is the official representative of Stage 7 (Proto Polynesian), but you will have passed others in the course of your journey.

Coprosma repens, Mämängi

When you are ready, you can journey on a few hundred years by walking a couple of metres further along to the tree representing the next stage. To do this in cyberspace, or to sail back in time towards the vanished island of Pülotu, by pressing the appropriate link below.

To go on to Stage 8 (Proto Nuclear Polynesian)
click here.

To retreat to Proto Central Pacific (Stage 6),
click here!


"Time travel walk" - Stage 7

Proto Polynesian (about 2,500 years ago)

After the settlement of Tonga and Fiji, we enter a period of relative stability, socially and linguistically. As regular contact with Fiji and the world to the west lessens a new distinctive Austronesian language is developed in this new environment, the source of all the future Polynesian languages. One well-known legend relates how the sacred island of Pülotu in the Fiji group sank beneath the waves, forcing its occupants to evacuate to a new home in Samoa. In Western Polynesia Pülotu as the original homeland and the place to which the spirits of the dead return has the same significance as Hawaiki for the Eastern Polynesians.

The name representative of this era, because one of these trees happens to be conveniently placed on our walk, is the Mämängi, Coprosma repens. (There are about 30 other plant names which, as far as we can tell, originated during this era; at least half are currently [2009] represented in the garden.)

The name mämängi is shared by Coprosma arborea. Both trees are members of the coffee family (Rubiaceae), and if you are desperate for a cup of coffee you can roast the seeds of either and make a potable brew. You'll need a lot of the seeds, though, because the Coprosma beans are much smaller than those of the Caffea species used for the "true" coffees, and you'll have to compete with the birds for the ripe berries.

Coprosma repens, Mämangi - foliage.

For more information about this word, and the plants whose names are derived from it, click on the links below.

*Mamangi (Proto-Polynesian form)

Mämängi (Modern Mäori)



Hue flower

Te Mära Reo, c/o Benton Family Trust, "Tumanako", RD 1, Taupiri, Waikato 3791, Aotearoa / New Zealand
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