Way of Life

Karawhiua! Give it a Go!

The Māori language - Te Reo Māori - is only spoken in Aotearoa New Zealand and its use in everyday life by locals and visitors is encouraged.

If you know even more words or phrases, you'll have a better understanding of our culture - and Māori people will love you for it!

Find more words and phrases you may come across, what they mean, and where you can go to find out more.

What to say

Introduction (Pepeha)

A traditional Māori introduction of yourself. It tells people who you are, linking you to the land, mountain, river, sea, tribe, subtribe, whakapapa (genealogy) and marae (sacred meeting place). Here is a simple pepeha:

Tihe mauri ora!

Ko (name of your waka) te waka
Ko (name of your mountain) te maunga
Ko (name of your river) te awa
Ko (name of your tribe) te iwi
Ko (name of your sub tribe) te hapū
Ko (your name) ahau

Let there be life!
My canoe is (name of your canoe)
My mountain is (name of mountain)
My river is (name of your tribe)
My tribe is (name of your tribe)
My sub-tribe is (name of your sub-tribe)
I am (your name)

Inu (Drinks)

The word inu is a generic term for a drink and drinking.

  • Huka - sugar
  • Kawhe - coffee
  • Kawhe pango roa - long black
  • Kawhe pango poto - short black
  • Kaputino - cappuccino
  • Kawhe kore kohuka - flat white
  • Kirimi - cream
  • Moka - mocha
  • Miraka - milk
  • Miraka kore kirimi - trim milk
  • Pia - beer
  • Rate - latte
  • Tī - tea
  • Wai - water
  • Wai reka - soft drink
  • Wai ārani - orange juice
  • Waina - wine

Kai (food)

Traditional Māori foods are still enjoyed today and incorporated into dishes that suit modern tastes. The hāngī or earth oven is a traditional cooking method for a feast that is still popular today.

  • Hāngī - food cooked in an earth oven
  • Heihei - chicken
  • Huamata - salad
  • Huarākau - fruit
  • Hua whenua - vegetables
  • Ika - fish
  • Keke - cake
  • Kūmara - sweet potato
  • Mīti - meat
  • Paraoa - bread
  • Pihikete - biscuit
  • Purini - dessert
  • Rīwai - potato

Kaimoana

For many people, including Māori, kai is a very important part of culture because gathering, preparing and sharing kai shows hospitality and respect for visitors. Food and the culture and customs around it create a sense of community.

Kaimoana refers to food which has been gathered from the sea: 

  • Pāua - abalone
  • Ika -fish
  • Kōura - crayfish
  • Kina - sea egg
  • Karengo - seaweed
  • Wheke - octopus
  • Kahitua - beach
  • Pipi Tuangi - cockle

Māori Language

The Māori Language Commission promotes and fosters the use of Māori as a living language.

Te Reo Māori is one of the three official languages of New Zealand. The other two are English and New Zealand Sign Language.

Try its resources for a pronunciation guide and to learn helpful words and phrases - Learning Te Reo Māori.

Māori phrases

Greeting someone in the Māori language is a simple way of communicating respect, appreciation and friendliness.

  • Kia ora - hi, hello or thank you
  • Tēnā koe - hello to one person
  • Tēnā kōrua - hello to two people
  • Tēnā koutou - hello to three or more people
  • Mōrena - good morning
  • Haera mai - welcome
  • Kei te pēhea koe? - how are you?
  • Kei te pai - I'm great
  • Ka pai - that's good
  • Ka kiti anō - see you later

Pōwhiri (Welcome ceremony)

The pōwhiri or ceremonial welcome is a key part of our hospitality.

Here are some words you may encounter at a pōwhiri.

  • Pōwhiri - to welcome
  • Haere mai - welcome
  • Tangata Whenua - local people, hosts
  • Manuhiri - visitor
  • Wero - ritual challenge
  • Karanga - call of welcome
  • Whaikōrero - formal speech of welcome
  • Koha - gift
  • Hongi - to press noses in greeting
  • Hākari - feast
  • Marae - centre of a Māori community
  • Wharenui - meeting house
  • Wharekai - dining hall
  • Wharepaku - toilet
  • Kihini - kitchen

Te Reo Māori (Māori Language)

The growing use of Te Reo Māori is unique to New Zealand. New Zealanders are increasingly recognising the importance and incorporating the indigenous language into common us - Māori is one of the three official languages of Aotearoa New Zealand.

Vowels

The growing use of Te Reo Māori is unique to New Zealand. New Zealanders are increasingly recognising the importance and incorporating the indigenous language into common us - Māori is one of the three official languages of Aotearoa New Zealand.

Vowels
There are 5 vowel sounds in Maori, they can be pronounced short or long. In written form, the long vowel is usually marked with a macron eg. ā
The vowels are:
A, E, I, O, U

Consonants
The consonant sounds are:
P, T, K, N, Ng, Wh, R, H, W

Listen to how to pronounce these sounds here.

© 2017 NZ Maori Tourism Society