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Oct 07, 2021

Change Makers - High school students' website teaches correct pronunciation of Māori and Pasifika names

Ten high school students from Porirua are hoping a new website they've made will help teach people how to pronounce Māori and Pasifika names correctly.


Fa'amalosi - which means 'be strong' in Samoan - has been up and running for less than a month but already features more than 800 names in half a dozen languages and has around 650 subscribers.

Fa'amalosi's co-chief executives, 16-year-olds To'e Lokeni and Mannfred Sofara, say the group of Bishop Viard College students was inspired to start the company after realising that having their names mispronounced was a common problem for Māori and Pasifika students.

To'e, who is named after his mother's father, says it's not only frustrating but also feels disrespectful. "I kind of feel embarrassed and insecure sometimes," he says.

"All names have different meanings behind them and stories, so it's important that people get the pronunciation right for names, just to show respect to the names."

After brainstorming about what common problems students faced, the group hit on the idea of creating the resource and the name for it.

"We thought why not create a website as this will be the easiest way to get our message out there," says Mannfred.

"And fa'amalosi, stay strong, say it right. Fa'amalosi, stand up if you've had your name mispronounced."

Watch the report here.