Hori (racial slur)

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The term Hori is an offensive derogatory term for a person of Māori descent. The term comes from a transliteration of the English name George, which was very popular during the early years of European colonisation of New Zealand. By means of synecdoche, the term came to be ascribed firstly to any unknown male Māori, and then as a negative epithet to all male Māori.[1] The level of offence implied by the use of the term has varied over time and with context.

The term has a second, equally derogatory meaning as an adjective, referring to something that is broken, false, or in poor condition.[1]

The usage as a derogatory term for Māori grew with the increasing urbanisation of Māori[2] and is still common, though its usage may be less than in past decades.

In the early 1960s the Pākehā writer W. Norman McCallum published several bestselling comedic books under the pseudonym "Hori". The pseudonym was chosen as a typical Māori name, and the books depicted Māori as overweight, lazy, and happy-go lucky.[3][4][5]

As with the equivalent term "nigger" in the United States, the term has to some extent been "reclaimed" within the community which it was originally intended to insult, especially in street slang. It is often meant as a term of endearment amongst Māori or as a signifier of "keeping it real".[1] An example is the musical group AHoriBuzz, the frontman of which describes the term as embracing Māori humour.[6][7]The word has been so far "reclaimed" over the last 20 years that many youth now have no idea that the word is a racial slur.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Dropping the H-bomb?". Linguistics and Second Language Teaching, Massey University. 5 June 2008. Archived from the original on 2015-04-03. Retrieved 2 April 2015.
  2. ^ Taonui, R. "Ngā tuakiri hōu – new Māori identities", Te Ara, the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. 18 September 2013. Retrieved 2 April 2015.
  3. ^ Hughes, Shaun F. D. (November 2004). "Was there ever a "Maori English"?". World Englishes. 23 (4): 565–584. doi:10.1111/j.0083-2919.2004.00377.x.
  4. ^ Williams, Melissa Matutina (2015). Panguru and the city : kāinga tahi, kāinga rua : an urban migration history. Bridget Williams Books. p. 265. ISBN 9781927247921.
  5. ^ "Story: European ideas about Māori Page 3 – Hard racism and the 'Call of the Pah'. Polygenist ideas". Te Ara, the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 6 April 2015.
  6. ^ "A Hori Buzz - Nation of The State". Radio New Zealand. 15 August 2015. Archived from the original on 2015-10-27. Retrieved 10 June 2017.
  7. ^ "A Hori Buzz interview". sounzgood.co.nz. 6 February 2011. Archived from the original on 2015-06-25. Retrieved 26 June 2015.