Using te reo Māori

We encourage practicing more of Aotearoa's national language in your daily lives. Here are some commonly used words and phrases to get you started.

Ko te reo Māori te reo taketake o Aotearoa, te manawapou hoki o te ahurea me te tuakiri Māori | The Māori language is the indigenous language of New Zealand and the foundation of Māori culture and identity.

Te Herenga Mātai Pūkaha is committed to supporting the University’s Te Reo Policy and to actively supporting the revitalisation of te reo Māori. You can join us in this journey by getting started with some of Aotearoa's handy resources, or using the phrases we've listed on this page more regularly.

Online resources

  • Online version of Te Aka Māori-English, English-Māori Dictionary and Index. Visit the website.
  • Resources from Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori | the Māori Language Commission. Visit their website.
  • Scotty Morrison's Māori Language learning resource. Visit his website.

Greetings and signoffs

Tēna koe Dear Sir/Madam
E te rangatira, tēna koe Dear Sir/Madam
Tēnā anō koe Greetings again
Tēnā koe i roto i ngā āhuatanga i te wā Greetings to you and the circumstances of the time
Kia ora Hello/Hi/Thank you
Kia ora rā Hello/Hi/Thank you
Kia ora anō rā Hello/Hi again/Thank you again
Me mutu pea i konei I’ll leave it there
Ka nui tēnā That’s enough
Kāti ake i konei Let’s leave it there for now
Ā kāti Let’s leave it there
Noho ora mai rā Look after yourself
Noho pukumahi mai rā Stay busy
Hei konā mai Goodbye for now
Hei konā mai i ngā mihi Thanks and goodbye
Kia kōrero anō au i a koe Until I hear from you again
Māu au i whakamōhio mai Let me know
Ngā mihi Thanks
Nāku noa, nā Yours sincerely (name)
Ata mārie Good morning
Ahiahi mārie Good afternoon
Pō mārie Good night
Hei āpōpō See you tomorrow
Hei te Rāhina See you on Monday
Kia pai tō rangi Have a great day
Kia pai tō mutunga wiki Have a great weekend
Tēnā rawa atu koe Thank you very much


This is a formulaic expression of one’s whānau, marae, hapū and iwi. If you do not have whakapapa (genealogy) specific to an area, it is best to pay homage and mihi (acknowledge) the mana whenua (peoples of authority) to the land you are speaking about.

Hapū and iwi have a genealogical connection to the mountains, rivers and seas in their respective areas. Therefore, these are seen as more than geographical indicators of the land over which we have authority – they are our ancestors. You can create your own pepeha on the University's Te Kūaha app.

Common words and phrases

Ahi kā to keep ‘the home fires burning’. This refers to those who remain at the marae on their papa kāinga and fulfil tasks and obligations on marae
Ako to learn and teach concurrently
Aroha affection, sympathy, charity, compassion, love, empathy
Atawhai to show kindness to, to raise or adopt temporarily
Ātua Gods
Awa river, stream, creek, canal, gully, gorge, groove, furrow
Āwhi to embrace, cherish
Hapū ancestral grouping – the local authorities of an area with a common ancestor, to be pregnant, conceived in the womb
Hau kāinga the home people of a marae
Hinengaro mind, thought, intellect, consciousness, awareness
Hui gathering, meeting
Ia he and she
Iwi ancestral grouping made up of hapū, strength, bone
Kai food, or to eat
Kaikaranga caller - the woman (or women) who have the role of being the portal of the living and the dead when welcoming visitors onto a marae. Kaikaranga are the first voice heard on the marae.
Kaitiaki a protector, ensuring the well-being of the land, rivers, seas and the people
Kaitiakitanga enacting the roles and responsibilities of kaitiaki
Kaipūkaha Engineer
Kanohi ki te kanohi face to face
Kanohi kitea the seen face (people who are known to marae, hapū and iwi because of their consistent presence)
Kanohi kitea someone who is seen to be present all the time and contributing to marae, hapū and iwi
Karakia incantation, prayer, grace, blessing
Kaumātua elder, experts who have knowledge of mātauranga and tikanga Māori (both female and male)
Kaupapa topic, policy, matter for discussion (also means platform, layer and raft)
Kaupapa Māori an approach that privileges the perspectives and protocols of Māori
Kawa marae protocol
Koha gift, present, offering, donation, contribution – to give a koha is to recognise the mana of the receiver and enhance the mana of the giver. Koha is integral to tikanga.
Kōrero narrative, speech, conversation, discourse
Koroua elderly man, grandfather, grand uncle, papa
Kuia elderly woman, grandmother, grand aunt
Kura Kaupapa Māori total immersion Māori school operating under Māori custom and using Māori as the medium of instruction
Mana authority and power
Mana Wāhine an approach that privileges the perspectives and protocols of Māori women; also refers to the inherent prestige, authority and power of women in the context of Leonie Pihama’s (2001) principles for Mana Wāhine research
Mana tāne the inherent prestige, authority and power of men
Manaaki to support, respecting the mana of others, take care of, give hospitality to, protect, look out for
Manaaki ki te tangata respecting the mana of the person
Manaakitanga enhancing the mana of others and ourselves
Manuhiri visitor, guest
Māori natural
Māoritanga Māori culture, practices and beliefs
Marae political site of authority where whānau and hapū discuss political and social matters,
Matariki the Māori new year
Mātauranga education, knowledge, wisdom, understanding, skill
Matua father, uncle
Mātua parents
Maunga mountain, mount, peak
Mauri life principle, essence
Moana sea, ocean
Mokōpūna (moko) grandchild, descendant - child or grandchild of a son, daughter, nephew, niece, etc
Mōteatea chant
Noa be free from the extensions of tapu, unrestricted
Ora be alive, well, safe, cured, recovered, healthy, fit
Pākehā New Zealander of European descent
Papa kāinga original home, home base, village
Pepe baby
Pepeha a recitation of whakapapa and areas of significance, see the end of this section
Pono integrity, to do what one says they will do
Pōhiri invitation, rituals of encounter, welcome ceremony on a marae, welcome
Pūmanawa natural talent, intuitive cleverness
Rangahau research
Rangatahi younger generation, youth
Rangatira leader
Rangatiratanga to weave the people together, leadership
Rāhui to put in place a temporary ritual prohibition, closed season, ban, reserve
Rito centre shoot, undeveloped leaves of harakeke
Rohe boundary, district, region, territory, area, border (of land)
Roto lake, inside
Tāmariki children
Tane man (Tāne means plural)
Tāngata people, persons, human beings
Tāngata whenua indigenous people of the land - people born of the whenua (of the placenta and the land) where the people's ancestors have lived and where their placentas are buried
Tangihanga weeping, crying, funeral, rites for the dead, obsequies
Taonga treasure, anything prized - applied to anything considered to be of value both tangible and intangible
Tapu the restricted and controlled access to other human beings (Tate, 2010)
Tauiwi a person with no Māori tribal affiliation
Te ao Māori the Māori world
Te ao Pākehā the Pākehā world
Te ao hurihuri the ever-changing world
Te kore the potential
Te pō the becoming of the potential
Te ao Marama the birth of the potential, the world of light
Te mamae sadness and grief
Te reo Māori Māori language
Te reo me ona tikanga Māori language and traditional practices (Pihama, 2001)
Te rito centre shoot, undeveloped leaves of New Zealand flax, Phormium tenax
Te tapu o te tangata the intrinsic tapu given to every person at conception, and relates to our relationships with the atua, tangata, and whenua
Te ūkaipō origin, source of sustenance, real home
Teina younger sibling or cousin of the same gender. (Tēina – means plural)
Tiaki/tanga to guard, keep; also to look after, nurse, care, protect, conserve
Tika correct, appropriate
Tikanga law and rules, tikanga is fluid and context specific (not set in stone)
Tinana body, trunk (of a tree), the main part of anything
Tino rangatiratanga self-determination; the expression of mana
Tipu to grow, increase, spring, issue, begin, develop, sprout also refers to a seedling, growth, development, shoot, bud, plant
Tūpuna/Tīpuna ancestors
Titiro, whakarongo… kōrero look, listen, speak (L. Smith, 2006)
Tōhunga skilled person, chosen expert - a person chosen by the agent of an ātua and the people as a leader in a particular field because of signs indicating talent for a particular vocation
Tuākana elder sibling or cousin of the same sex (plural: Tuākana)
Tuāhine sister or female cousin to a male
Tungāne brother or male cousin to a female
Wāhi tapu restricted place, sacred place
Wahine woman (plural: Wāhine)
Wai water
Waiata song
Waiora health, soundness
Wairua spirituality, spirit, soul, quintessence, spirit of a person which exists beyond death
Wānanga, to meet and discuss, deliberate and consider
Whaea mother, aunt
Whaea kēkē aunt
Whaikōrero the art or practice of oratory
Whakamā shy, bashful, embarrassed
Whakanoa a violation that diminishes the tapu of atua, tāngata, and whenua, impairing or obstructing their mana
Whakapapa genealogy, lineage, descent – tool of analysis
Whakataukī proverb, saying, cryptic saying, aphorism
Whakautu to answer, reply, respond
Whakawātea to clear, excuse, free, make way for, dislodge, exempt
Whakawhiti to exchange, cross over, change, transfer, interchange, or to make shine
Whānau extended family, to be born, to give birth
Whānaunga relative, relation, kin
Whakawhānaungatanga to build a relationship, to find connections and commonalities
Whānaungatanga relationship, kinship, sense of family connection, maintaining the mana of all involved by being tika and pono and doing things with aroha
Whāngai to raise, nurture (also means 'to feed')
Whare house
Whare hui main meeting area of a marae
Whāriki floor covering, ground cover, floor mat, carpet, mat
Whenua land, country, ground, placenta, afterbirth