Māori Words & Phrases

Are you ready to have a go at some Māori words and phrases? In the following list you'll find a lot of the common ones you are likely to come across as a visitor.

Open up the pronunciation guide if you haven't already got it open. With the pages side by side it will make it a bit easier for you.

Learning Māori is not easy so just take your time and practise a little regularly before you come visit us.

Greetings - Goodbyes - Thanks Etc

English Māori
hullo (to two persons) tēnā kōrua
hullo (to many) tēnā koutou
good morning morena
How are you? (one, two, many) kei te pehea koe/korua/koutou
Very well, thank you. ka nui te pai
I'm fine/good kei te pai
hello kia ora (more informal)
what is your name? ko wai tou ingoa?
my name is Karen ko Karen taku ingoa
goodbye (to the person staying) e noho ra
goodbye (to the person going) haere ra
see you tomorrow ka kite ano (incorrect form but it is commonly used)

People And The Land

English Māori
tribe iwi
1. sub-tribe, 2. pregnant 1. hapū, 2. hapu
extended or non-nuclear family whānau
relatives, kin whanaunga
region, territory (geographical or spiritual) rohe
people of the land, native tangata whenua
land, homeland, country whenua
genealogy, to establish family connections whakapapa
ancestors tipuna or tūpuna
elder or elders kaumātua
paramount chief, person of high inherited rank ariki
chief, chieftain, boss, owner rangatira
paramount authority, sometimes used for sovereignty tino rangatiratanga
women, females, ladies, wives wāhine
woman, female, lady, wife wahine
europeans pākehā
visitors/guests manuhiri

Feel The Spirit (Wairua)

English Māori
sacred, taboo, don't touch tapu
not sacred or taboo noa
treasures -cultural/physical/spiritual tāonga
authority, power, influence mana
power, charisma, essential force ihi
love, compassion, empathy aroha
hospitality, respect for host, entertain manaakitanga
essential life force or a symbol of mauri
care for, look after, guard tiaki
guardian, trustee kaitiaki

Other Māori Words

English Māori
speak, tell, say kōrero
words kupu
formal speaking, speechmaking whaikōrero
song, sing or chant waiata (usually follows a speech)
vigorous dance with actions haka
to gather/meet or gathering/meeting hui
an open area in front of a meeting house (wharenui) - usually includes a whole complex marae
ceremony calling/challenging/welcoming people onto the marae karanga
funeral ceremonies tangihana
cry, mourn, shortened version of above tangi
canoe waka
war canoe waka taua
outrigger canoe (a big racing sport here) waka ama
gift, present, donation koha
carved meeting house whare whakairo
dining room whare kai
toilet whare paku
ablution block or bathroom whare horoi

Interested In More Māori Culture?

Māori Language Basics - Pronunciation Guide for Visitors to New Zealand

Flax Weaving - Flax helped Māori people survive in this harsh country

Māori Haka - Cultural performances always have a haka challenge

Return to Top of Māori Words

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