Kiwis are very kind and will go out of their way to offer help if you look lost or confused. They speak English, of course, but that doesn’t mean an American (or Dutch guy) can understand what they say. Get used to it, because the Kiwi way of saying it is the RIGHT way. For example, when we checked in at one hotel the other day, the manager asked what name the reservation was under.
“Coté.” (As in, ko – tay’. That’s French, you know.)
He looked puzzled a moment, then, “Ah, yes, Cow’-tee,” he gently corrected me, giving me a look like, “How pathetic, she doesn’t even know how to pronounce her own name.”
But the accent isn’t the most challenging part. The use of Maori, especially for place names, is a point of pride in New Zealand. Maori uses only 17 characters / phonemes. As a result, some of the place names are very long. A lot of them seem like they have extra syllables. “Rangiri,” right? No, it’s “Rangiriri.” “Maraeka?” Sorry, that’s “Maraekakaho.” Also, if a short name is worth saying once, it’s worth saying twice: Matamata, Kawakawa, Tikitiki, etc. The longest Maori name is 87 letters!
This Maori place name is only the fourth longest word, with a mere 35 letters.