Glossary of Māori Words

Click here to download a pdf version of this glossary.

This glossary contains a list of all the Māori words used in Guilty as Charged?, apart from those appearing in book or song titles, and some of those appearing in quoted passages where the meaning is not relevant…

This glossary contains a list of all the Māori words used in Guilty as Charged?, apart from those appearing in book or song titles, and some of those appearing in quoted passages where the meaning is not relevant, or necessary, to understand the purpose of the quote. Rather than just give simple ‘dictionary’ definitions, for a number of words I have given a slightly more in-depth discussion of the term. Many of the Māori words I have used in this book are part of everyday language in New Zealand. As a result many misconceptions have arisen as to their true meaning. The purpose of the discussions in this glossary is to present these misconceptions alongside a more accurate definition. The reasons for this are two-fold. First, it is hoped that these discussions will give the non-New Zealander some appreciation for the nuances of the words as used by both Māori and Pākehā. This is important because, in some instances, I have used the words somewhat sarcastically according to their common perception. Second, by discussing where the common misconceptions lie, it is hoped that this is a step towards eradicating these misconceptions amongst Pākehā in the future.

Having said all this, I refer the reader to the discussion in Chapter 2 about the impossibility of precisely defining anything in the Māori world objectively. Not least in this discussion is the fact that there is disagreement amongst Māori about the precise definition of many key concepts. In some of the words below I have mentioned alternative meanings to give a flavour of this disagreement.

Finally, there are many dictionaries around providing straightforward English translations of Māori words. I have two—a simple one (The Reed Concise Māori Dictionary1), and a more detailed one (Dictionary of the Maori Language2). Where no reference is given in the glossary below, or a phrase such as, ‘a dictionary definition of this term is…’, then, by and large, the reference is the first dictionary, with perhaps something from the second added in.

  1. Compiled by A. W. Reed and revised by Timotī Kāretu and Ross Calman.
  2. Originally by H. W. Williams, but now in its multi-authored (one of whom is Bruce Biggs) seventh edition.

 

Click on a word, or phrase, below to read the definition.
A H I K M Ng P R T U W Wh

A:

  • amorangi
  • ao
  • Aotearoa
  • aroha
  • atua

H:

  • haka
  • hāngi
  • hapū
  • hara
  • Hawaiki
  • hīkoi
  • hongi
  • hui

I:

  • iwi

K:

  • kāinga
  • kaitaka
  • kaitiakitanga
  • kai-whakaatu
  • kapa haka
  • kaumātua
  • kaupapa
  • kāwana
  • kāwanatanga
  • Kingitanga
  • kōauau
  • koha
  • kōhanga reo
  • koru
  • kotahitanga
  • kuia
  • kura kaupapa Māori

M:

  • mana
  • manaaki
  • mana Māori motuhake
  • mana motuhake
  • mana whenua
  • manuhiri
  • Māori
  • Māoritanga
  • marae
  • moko

Ng:

  • ngāi
  • ngāti

P:

  • Pākehā
  • Papa-tūā-nuku
  • poi
  • pounamu
  • pōwhiri
  • pūtātara
  • pūtōrīno

R:

  • rangatira
  • rangatiratanga
  • reo
  • rohe

T:

  • taiaha
  • tangata
  • tangata whenua
  • tangihanga
  • tāniko
  • taniwha
  • taonga
  • tapu
  • tātai
  • te
  • te ao Māori
  • Te Ika a Māui
  • tēnā koutou
  • te reo Māori
  • Te Wai Pounamu
  • tikanga
  • tino rangatiratanga
  • tohunga
  • tūrangawaewae
  • tūtūā

U:

  • utu

W:

  • waiata
  • wairua
  • wānanga
  • wero

Wh:

  • whakapapa
  • whakataukī
  • whānau
  • whanaungatanga
  • wharenui
  • whenua