List of English words of Māori origin

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The following Māori words exist as loanwords in English. Many of them concern endemic New Zealand flora and fauna that were known prior to the arrival of Europeans in New Zealand. Other terms relate to Māori customs. All of these words are commonly encountered in New Zealand English, and several (such as kiwi) are widely used across other varieties of English, and in other languages. In general, words that are written with macrons in Māori are written without macrons in New Zealand English, though the macron is becoming more widely used in New Zealand English.

Flora and fauna[edit]

A kea
A pair of pōhutukawa trees
An artist's recreation of the head of a kaiwhekea

The accepted English common names of a number of species of animal and plant endemic to New Zealand are simply their Māori names or a close equivalent:

huhu 
a type of large beetle
huia 
a recently extinct bird, much prized traditionally by Māori for its feathers
kākā 
a native parrot
kākāpō 
a rare native bird
kahikatea 
a type of large tree
Kaiwhekea 
a type of prehistoric plesiosaur
katipo 
a venomous native spider
kauri 
large conifer in the Araucariaceae
kea 
a parrot, the world's only alpine parrot
kererū 
the native wood pigeon
kina 
the sea-urchin, eaten as a delicacy
kiwi 
the bird, a New Zealander, or (but not in New Zealand English) kiwi fruit
kōkako 
a rare type of bird
kowhai 
a type of flowering tree
kūmara 
sweet potato
mako 
a shark, considered a magnificent fighting game fish
mamaku 
a type of large tree fern
moa 
extinct giant flightless bird
pāua 
abalone
pōhutukawa 
a type of flowering tree
ponga (also spelt punga
the silver fern, often used as a symbol for New Zealand
pukeko 
a wading bird, the purple swamphen
rātā 
a type of flowering tree
rimu 
a tree, the red pine
takahē 
a rare wading bird
toheroa 
a shellfish
tōtara 
an evergreen tree
tuatara 
rare lizard-like reptile, not closely related to any other living species
tui 
the parsonbird
weka 
a flightless bird of the rail family
weta 
a large native insect, similar to a cricket
whekī 
a type of tree fern

Placenames[edit]

View over Greater Tauranga, taken from the top of Mauao

Thousands of Māori placenames (with or without anglicisation) are now official in New Zealand. These include:

There is a movement to replace anglicised words and return placenames to their original Māori forms. See for example Whanganui. Some Treaty of Waitangi settlements have included placename changes.

Many New Zealand rivers and lakes have Māori names; these names predominantly use the prefixes wai- (water) and roto- (lake) respectively. Examples include the Waikato, Waipa and Waimakariri rivers, and lakes Rotorua, Rotomahana and Rotoiti.

A Māori name for New Zealand, Aotearoa, has gained some currency as a more acceptable alternative. It appears in the names of some political parties, e.g. Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand and Communist Party of Aotearoa.

Other words and phrases[edit]

Putting down a hāngi
Terraces on Maungawhau / Mount Eden marking the sites of the defensive palisades and ditches of this former
Pounamu pendant
Waka taua (war canoes) at the Bay of Islands, 1827-8. The word has also given rise to the phrase waka-jumping, in New Zealand politics.
The foreshore and seabed hikoi approaching the Parliament of New Zealand. The red, black, and white flags represent tino rangatiratanga.
aroha 
love, sympathy, compassion
arohanui 
"lots of love", commonly as a valediction[2][3]
haere mai and haere ra
welcome and goodbye (respectively)
haka 
traditional Māori dance, not always a war-dance, often performed by New Zealand sports teams to 'intimidate' opponents; see Haka of the All Blacks
hāngi 
(1) earth oven used to cook large quantities of food (2) the food cooked in the hāngi
hapū
clan or subtribe, part of an iwi
hikoi 
march or walk, especially a symbolic walk such as a protest march
hongi 
traditional Māori greeting featuring the pressing together of noses and sharing of breath
hui 
meeting, conference
iwi 
tribe
kai 
food[4]
kai moana 
sea food
kapa haka 
a cultural festival or music and dance
ka pai 
very pleasant, good, fine
karakia 
sung prayer or welcome
kaupapa 
policy or principle, credo
kāwanatanga 
sovereignty
kia kaha 
an expression of support, lit. be strong
kia ora 
a greeting, lit. be healthy
koha 
gift, present, offering, donation, contribution[5]
kōhanga reo 
Māori language preschool (literally 'language nest')
kōrero 
to talk; to speak Māori; story
koru 
stylised fern frond pattern, used in art
Kura Kaupapa Māori
Maori language school
mahinga mātaitai 
traditional seafood gathering place
mana 
regard in which someone is held; respect of their authority; reputation[6]
manaia 
guardian spirit, often found in Māori artwork and carving
Māoritanga
Māori culture, traditions, and way of life, lit. Māoriness
marae 
a communal or sacred place that serves religious and social purposes in Māori society
Matariki 
midwinter festival, the Māori new year, lit. the star cluster of the Pleiades
mihi 
lit. greet, acknowledge; sometimes used for internet board or forum message
moko 
facial tattoo
mokopuna 
descendants, young children. Lit. grandchildren
Ngaire 
woman's name, origin unknown
 
hill fort
pakarū
broken, not working; often rendered in New Zealand English as puckeroo or puckerooed
Pākehā 
New Zealander of non-Māori descent, usually European
Papakāinga 
land used as housing by a hapu or whanau group
poi
A dance art that originated in Māori culture and is now popular in object-manipulation communities
pounamu 
greenstone, jade, nephrite
pōwhiri 
ceremony of welcome[7]
puku 
abdomen, tummy
rāhui 
a ban or prohibition
rohe 
homeland, tribal area
tangata whenua 
home tribe of a given marae or district; by extension, Māori in the New Zealand context, people of the land.[8]
taniwha 
mythical water monster
tangi 
funeral, rites for the dead
taonga 
sacred treasure. Māori usage: property, goods, possessions, effects, treasure, something prized. The term whare taonga ("treasure house") is used in the Māori names of museums
tapu 
sacred, taboo; to be avoided because of this; (a cognate of the Tongan tabu, origin of the English borrowing of taboo)
te reo 
the Māori language (literally, 'the language')
tiki 
stylised representation of a male human, found in Māori artwork and carving
tino rangatiratanga 
a political term, sometimes translated as "chieftainship"
tukutuku 
traditional woven panels
utu 
revenge. Māori usage: revenge, cost, price, wage, fee, payment, salary, reciprocity
wāhi tapu 
sacred site
wai 
water (found at the start of the names of many New Zealand rivers)
waiata 
singing, song
waka 
canoe
whakapapa
ancestry, heritage
whānau
extended family or community of related families[9]
whare 
house, building

Word list[edit]

A meeting house on a marae

Many Māori words or phrases that describe Māori culture have become part of New Zealand English and may be used in general (non-Māori) contexts. Some of these are:

  • Aotearoa: New Zealand. Popularly interpreted to mean 'land of the long white cloud', but the original derivation is uncertain
  • aroha: Love, sympathy, affection[10]
  • arohanui: "lots of love", commonly as a complimentary close[11][12]
  • haere mai: welcome
  • haka: a chant and dance of challenge (not always a war dance), popularised by the All Blacks rugby union team, who perform a haka before the game in front of the opposition
  • hāngi: a method of cooking food in a pit; or the occasion at which food is cooked this way (compare the Hawaiian use of the word luau)
  • hongi: traditional Māori greeting featuring the pressing together of noses
  • hui: a meeting; increasingly being used by New Zealand media to describe business meetings relating to Māori affairs
  • iwi: tribe, or people
  • kai: food[4]
  • kapai: very pleasant; good, fine. From Māori 'ka pai'[4]
  • kaitiaki: guardianship of the environment
  • kaupapa: agenda, policy or principle[13]
  • kia ora: hello, and indicating agreement with a speaker (literally 'be healthy')
  • koha: donation, contribution[5]
  • kōhanga reo: Māori language preschool (literally 'language nest')
  • kōrero: to talk; to speak Māori; story
  • Kura Kaupapa Māori: Maori language school
  • mana: influence, reputation — a combination of authority, integrity, power and prestige[6]
  • Māoritanga: Māori culture, traditions, and way of life. Lit. Māoriness.
  • marae: ceremonial meeting area in front of the meeting house; or the entire complex surrounding this, including eating and sleeping areas
  • Pākehā: Non-Maori New Zealanders, especially those with European ancestry
  • piripiri: clinging seed, origin of New Zealand English 'biddy-bid'.
  • pōwhiri: ceremony of welcome[7]
  • puku: belly, usually a big one[14]
  • rāhui: restriction of access
  • tāngata whenua: native people of a country or region, i.e. the Māori in New Zealand (literally 'people of the land')[8]
  • tapu: sacred, taboo; to be avoided because of this; (a cognate of the Tongan tabu, origin of the English borrowing of taboo)
  • tangi: to mourn; or, a funeral at a marae
  • taniwha: mythical water monster
  • te reo: the Māori language (literally, 'the language')
  • waka: canoe, boat[15] (modern Māori usage includes automobiles)
  • whānau: extended family or community of related families[9]
  • whare: house, building

Other Māori words and phrases may be recognised by most New Zealanders, but generally not used in everyday speech:

  • hapū: subtribe; or, pregnant
  • kapa haka: cultural gathering involving dance competitions; haka team
  • karakia: prayer, used in various circumstances including opening ceremonies
  • kaumātua: older person, respected elder
  • kia kaha: literally 'be strong'; roughly "be of good heart, we are supporting you"
  • Kīngitanga: Māori King Movement
  • matangi: wind, breeze ("Matangi" is the name for a class of electric multiple unit trains used on the Wellington suburban network, so named after Wellington's windy reputation).
  • mauri: spiritual life force
  • mokopuna: literally grandchildren, but can mean any young children
  • pakarū: broken, damaged
  • rangatira: chief
  • rohe: home territory of a specific iwi
  • taihoa – not yet, wait a while
  • tamariki: children
  • tohunga: priest (in Māori use, an expert or highly skilled person)
  • tūrangawaewae: one's own turf, "a place to stand"
  • tutū: to be rebellious, stirred up, mischievous [16] Used in New Zealand English to mean "fidget" or "fiddle" e.g. "Don't tutū with that!"
  • urupā: burial ground
  • utu: revenge (in Māori, payment, response, answer)
  • wāhi tapu: sacred site
  • whaikōrero: oratory
  • whakapapa: genealogy
  • waiata: song
  • wairua: spirit

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The name "Otago", and several other placenames in the southern South Island have names from a southern dialect of Māori, and thus these names are not in keeping with standard Māori spelling. Other names of this type include Lake Waihola and Wangaloa.
  2. ^ 'Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and Farewell from Ambassador McCormick", US Embassy
  3. ^ 'Arohanui Howard Morrison, New Zealand Woman's Weekly
  4. ^ a b c "Kiwis say ka pai to pie kai". The New Zealand Herald. 3 October 2010. Retrieved 19 October 2011. 
  5. ^ a b Benson, Nigel (2 April 2009). "Festival goes glam today". Otago Daily Times. Retrieved 19 October 2011. There is also a 2pm matinee today. Entry is by koha 
  6. ^ a b "Rugby: Fitzy gracious as record set to fall". Otago Daily Times. NZPA. 12 November 2010. Retrieved 19 October 2011. 
  7. ^ a b Constantine, Ellie (18 February 2009). "New commander for district". Otago Daily Times. Retrieved 19 October 2011. 
  8. ^ a b Conway, Glenn (7 March 2008). "Local Maori excited about fishing reserve decision". Otago Daily Times. Retrieved 19 October 2011. 
  9. ^ a b Fox, Rebecca (26 April 2008). "Whanau given POW journal". Otago Daily Times. Retrieved 19 October 2011. 
  10. ^ "Kiwi in Boston feeling the 'aroha'", 3news.co.nz
  11. ^ 'Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and Farewell from Ambassador McCormick", US Embassy
  12. ^ 'Arohanui Howard Morrison, New Zealand Woman's Weekly
  13. ^ "Our Kaupapa: We value parental choice and...", Early Childhood on Stafford
  14. ^ George, Garth (2 November 2006). "Garth George: Beware decrees from little dictators about what to eat". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 19 October 2011. 
  15. ^ Gay, Edward (6 February 2010). "New and old waka celebrate Waitangi". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 19 October 2011. 
  16. ^ "Maori Dictionary". Retrieved 26 August 2011. 

Further reading[edit]