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Kāpiti the place name and kapiti the word

Kāpiti the place name and kapiti the word, both are correct

Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori (The Māori Language Commission) advocates for the accurate and appropriate use of te reo Māori. Therefore when place name issues arise it is the role of Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori to provide linguistic advice regarding spelling, pronunciation, dialectical variations and the effect of other influences on the language.

Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori position is that the correct spelling of kapiti, as a word, is without a macron on the ‘a’. This position has been established as a result of research into our collection of corpora, and reviewing existing and well known dictionaries.

Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori acknowledges however that where place names are concerned local iwi dialect can affect the way in which a word is verbally expressed and this can in turn create issues for how the place name is correctly spelt.

It’s important that the spelling of any given place name, or part thereof is consistent with the meaning that the place name conveys. Māori place names are a record of Māori history and getting the spelling right is extremely important in this context. Concerning whether or not the ‘a’ in kapiti is macronised, examples found in both the Williams dictionary and the corpus only includes instances of kapiti being spelt without a macron. So the initial response had to be there is no macron in kapiti.

Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori is aware however that local iwi of the Kāpiti region have their own variation of Kāpiti as a place name. Local iwi have historical information and evidence including local pronunciation that gives effect to Kāpiti with the macron as correct, and as such Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori also endorses this spelling. According to local iwi Kāpiti is a variant form of āpiti, meaning “to put together” or “place side by side”.


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