Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori: What are macrons and why are they so important?

Te reo Māori is a beautiful language - but if you're dropping those little lines from above the vowels it's possible you're butchering it -  and you could even be dropping a swear word accidentally.

Some companies have been called out for leaving out their macrons - most recently Weta Workshop. 

The company is supposed to be named after Aotearoa's native insect -it should be Wētā - but because it is missing the macrons above 'e' and 'a' - it actually means 'shit'.

Other examples of missing are keke, which means cake - but with it's macrons (kēkē) it's armpit. Or tāra, meaning dollar and tara - which means vagina. 

Hēmi Kelly, a Māori lecturer and author says everyone is learning - and that's great.

"We're all learning together," he told The Project on Thursday.

"I'm a second language learner and I'm always learning, And I try to grow and develop and once I know I've been making a mistake I try to stop making that mistake and say it correctly because someone has informed me about what is the correct way to say something."

He says it would be "great" for Weta Workshop to learn from its mistake too and perhaps consider changing its name, so it can accurately represent the spiky insect its logo is styled on.

Luckily there are tools to make learning even easier - Kelly says he uses maoridictionary.co.nz to double-check he's getting it right.

"It's on my phone as an app, it;'s free on my PC - and I just quickly double-check with that resource."

As for people who say macrons are "PC gone mad" - like Nicky from the deep south, who argued it was "her right" to mispronounce Māori place names in a viral interview with a NewstalkZB host, Kelly says there's no excuse.

"With language, with words, there is a correct way and an incorrect way, it's that simple."

Watch the full interview above.