Can you describe how you translated to creatures’ names?
My scope isn’t limited to just the dinosaurs! I was – and still am – also developing our insects and volcanoes programmes. We have some very different ways of categorising things in te reo, as well as a lot of reo that has simply been lost due to the way our language was engineered out of everyday use by so many educational and legal policies. And with dinosaurs, well, our tupuna didn’t cross paths with them time-wise, in Aotearoa!
In the end, I found quite a few words from 'Wakareo’ that was once under the care of Te Taura Whiri. For some other words, I had casual wānanga with other te reo speakers, and with my colleague Ma'ara Maeva, whose Māori extends back to the Pacific. He was able to shed light on older meanings of some Māori words with their origins in language. I also belong to an amazing Facebook community where Māori speakers are always making posts, asking for a wānanga about some aspect or another of te reo.
With the name for the Plesiosaur, I was stumped. In the end, I could only find a specific Plesiosaur that had been called 'Kaiwhekea'. I was pretty sure that was given to it as a proper name, but since I had nothing else, and it had such a cool ring to it, I have used it for the Plesiosaur as a general species here.
Te reo Māori is, like all spoken languages, still evolving through adapting to new knowledge, and, as it is being taken up again by our younger generations, it is evolving even more fluidly as they use it to articulate their everyday experiences and thoughts.