Volume 29, Issue 2
  • ISSN 0172-8865
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9730
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The New Zealand (NZ) short front vowels are often considered as a defining feature of New Zealand English (NZE), yet research which has considered data from both the Pakeha (NZ European) and the NZ Maori communities has noted slightly different patterns in the realisations of the vowel in the KIT lexical set in the respective communities (Bell 1997a, b; Warren and Bauer 2004). This paper compares the short front vowel series of NZ Maori students with that of NZ Samoan, Tongan, Cook Island and Niuean students and demonstrates how the NZ short front vowel series mark both similarity and difference across NZ communities. Our findings show that NZ Maori students have a greater degree of centralisation in their KIT vowel and a greater degree of raising of their DRESS and TRAP vowels than their NZ Pasifika counterparts. However, the manner in which the vowels raise and centralise distinguishes NZ Maori and Cook Island students from their NZ Samoan, Tongan and Niuean cohorts. The latter observation highlights problems with the pan-ethnic “Pasifika” label used to distinguish NZ Maori from other NZ Polynesian communities.


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