Piwakawaka Mini Te Mära Reo ~ The Language Garden


To get to the next site, head along the broad path to the left of the gingko ...

And keep watch for a weatherbeaten akeake near the path about 20 metres further on.

Site 11 is near the fence, to the right of the akeake and the mulberry tree just behind it (Site 12 is also visible to the far left).

Site 11 is the large tree right in the background - you can see its name cylinder with a splash of sunlight on it among the shadows at the bottom of the photograph.


"Time travel walk" - Stage 10

Proto Central Eastern Polynesian (about 1,600 years ago)

On the exploration front, this is another relatively brief period of consolidation, with development concemntrated in the Tahiti - Tuamotu - Marquesas triangle -- still a vast area -- the distance from Nuku Hiva in the Marquesas to Tahiti is 1384 km in a straight line, but compact enough for a common language to develop which from which modern Hawaiian, Tuamotuan, Marquesan, Tahitian, Mangarevan, Cook Islands and New Zealand Maori are derived. About 400 AD the settlement of Hawaii began from the Marquesas (although there would also be migrations from Tahiti later), and there would be a period after that when Marquesan and Hawaiian would develop as languages discernably different from those centred on Tahiti. The settlement of Aotearoa and Mangareva is still many centuries in the future. In the far west, Austronesian speakers from what is now Indonesia are colonizing Madagascar, so the last habitable places on the globe are becoming known to humanity, if not yet to the world.

The plant name representative of this stage is tötara, one of a couple of dozen with Proto Central Eastern Polynesian origins. It has been selected partly because of the convenient placement of this particular tötara tree (pictured below), but also because it's one of several plant names with interesting associations with marine creatures. The name incorporates a Proto-Polynesian word root *tala, meaning a thorn or spike in most Polynesian languages, often linked to thorny creatures, reflecting it's origin in a Proto East Fijian / Polynesian word *cala which referred also to sea urchins. In Aotearoa, tötara became the word referring especially to a magnificent forest tree with prickly leaves, and metaphorically to a noble and highly esteemed person.

Tötara, Podocarpus totara
(Site 10, Proto Central Eastern Polynesian)

There are quite a number of (Podocarpus) Tötara trees in the garden, including a large, golden-leaved one to the right of the driveway as you are heading towards the gate. You will have passed several of these trees on your journey so far, and also quite a large specimen of the closely related montane tötara, Podocarpus cunninghamii, a gift planted by Mrs Rangiwhakaehu Walker of Tauranga some years ago, to your left at the foot of the rise to the upper level of the garden as you are nearing Time Travel Walk Site 6 from Site 5B.

The name tötara is shared by a number of other plants, all with leaves reminiscent of the puffer fish's spines, which we do not yet have growing here, but are described on the "Modern Mäori" linked page below.

To get to know more about the tree, its special significance, and the word, press these links:

*Tötara (Proto-Polynesian form)

Tötara (Modern Mäori)

And, after noting the directions on the panel to the left, you can resume your virtual journey (or retreat to an earlier era) by pressing the appropriate link below.

To go on to Stage 11, Proto-Tahitic,
click here!

To go back to 9, Proto Eastern Polynesian,
click here



Hue flower

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