Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori – 100 Māori words

From NZ History: 100 Māori words every New Zealander should know

The marae

  • Hui meeting, conference, gathering
  • Marae the area for formal discourse in front of a meeting house; or the whole marae complex, including meeting house, dining hall, forecourt, etc.
  • Haere mai! Welcome! Enter!
  • Nau mai! Welcome!
  • Tangihanga funeral ceremony in which a body is mourned on a marae
  • Tangi short (verbal version) for the above; or to cry, to mourn
  • Karanga the ceremony of calling to the guests to welcome them onto the marae
  • Manuhiri guests, visitors
  • Tangata whenua original people belonging to a place, local people, hosts
  • Whaikōrero the art and practice of speech making
  • Kaikōrero or kaiwhai kōrero speaker (there are many other terms)
  • Haka chant with dance for the purpose of challenge (see other references to haka on this site)
  • Waiata song or chant which follows a speech
  • Koha gift, present (usually money, can be food or precious items, given by guest to hosts)
  • Whare nui meeting house; sometimes run together as one word – wharenui
  • Whare whakairo carved meeting house
  • Whare kai dining hall
  • Whare paku lavatory, toilet
  • Whare horoi ablution block, bathroom

Concepts

  • Aroha compassion, tenderness, sustaining love
  • Ihi power, authority, essential force
  • Mana authority, power; secondary meaning: reputation, influence
  • Manaakitanga respect for hosts or kindness to guests, to entertain, to look after
  • Mauri hidden essential life force or a symbol of this
  • Noa safe from tapu (see below), non-sacred, not tabooed
  • Raupatu confiscate, take by force
  • Rohe boundary, a territory (either geographical or spiritual) of an iwi or hapū
  • Taihoa to delay, to wait, to hold off to allow maturation of plans, etc.
  • Tapu sacred, not to be touched, to be avoided because sacred, taboo
  • Tiaki to care for, look after, guard (kaitiaki: guardian, trustee)
  • Taonga treasured possession or cultural item, anything precious
  • Tino rangatiratanga the highest possible independent chiefly authority, paramount authority, sometimes used for sovereignty
  • Tūrangawaewae a place to stand, a place to belong to, a seat or location of identity
  • Wehi to be held in awe
  • Whakapapa genealogy, to recite genealogy, to establish kin connections
  • Whenua land, homeland, country (also afterbirth, placenta)

People and their groups

  • Ariki male or female of high inherited rank from senior line of descent
  • Hapū clan, tribe, independent section of a people (modern usage – sub-tribe); pregnant
  • Iwi people, nation (modern usage – tribe); bones
  • Kaumātua elder or elders, senior people in a kin group
  • Ngāi Tātou a term for everyone present – ‘we all’
  • Pākehā this word is not an insult; its derivation is obscure; it is the Māori word for people living in New Zealand of British/European origin; originally it would not have included, for example, Dalmatians, Italians, Greeks, Indians, Chinese
  • Rangatira person of chiefly rank, boss, owner
  • Tama son, young man, youth
  • Tamāhine daughter
  • Tamaiti one child
  • Tamariki children
  • Tāne man/men, husband(s)
  • Teina/taina junior relative, younger brother of a brother, younger sister of a sister
  • Tipuna/tupuna ancestor
  • Tuahine sister of a man
  • Tuakana senior relative, older brother of a brother, older sister of a sister
  • Tungāne brother of a sister
  • Wahine woman, wife (wāhine: women, wives)
  • Waka canoe, canoe group (all the iwi and hapū descended from the crew of a founding waka)
  • Whāngai fostered or adopted child, young person
  • Whānau extended or non-nuclear family; to be born
  • Whanaunga kin, relatives

Components of place names

Terms for geographical features, such as hills, rivers, cliffs, streams, mountains, the coast; and adjectives describing them, such as small, big, little and long, are found in many place names. Here is a list so you can recognise them:

  • Au current
  • Awa river
  • Iti small, little
  • Kai in a place name, this signifies a place where a particular food source was plentiful, e.g., Kaikōura, the place where crayfish (kōura) abounded and were eaten
  • Manga stream
  • Mānia plain
  • Maunga mountain
  • Moana sea, or large inland ‘sea’, e.g., Taupō
  • Motu island
  • Nui large, big
  • Ō or o means ‘of’ (so does a, ā); many names begin with Ō, meaning the place of so-and-so, e.g., Ōkahukura, Ōkiwi, Ōhau
  • One sand, earth
  • Pae ridge, range
  • Papa flat
  • Poto short
  • Puke hill
  • Roa long
  • Roto lake; inside
  • Tai coast, tide
  • Wai water
  • Whanga harbour, bay

Greetings

Body parts

See also: 365 useful Māori words and phrases

A note on pronunciation

The following English equivalents are a rough guide to pronouncing vowels in Māori:

      • a as in far
      • e as in desk and the first ‘e’ in where; it should be short and sharp
      • i as in fee, me, see
      • o as in awe (not ‘oh!’)
      • u as in sue, boot

There are fewer consonants, and only a few are different from English:

      • r should not be rolled. It is pronounced quite close to the sound of ‘l’ in English, with the tongue near the front of the mouth.
      • t is pronounced more like ‘d’ than ‘t’, with the tip of the tongue slightly further back from the teeth
      • wh counts as a consonant; the standard modern pronunciation is close to the ‘f’ sound. In some districts it is more like an ‘h’; in others more like a ‘w’ without the ‘h’; in others again more like the old aspirated English pronunciation of ‘wh’ (‘huence’ for whence)
      • ng counts as a consonant and is pronounced like the ‘ng’ in ‘singer’. It is not pronounced like the ‘ng’ in ‘finger’, i.e., Whāngārei is pronounced Far-n(g)ah-ray (not Fong-gah-ray); Tauranga is pronounced Tow- (to rhyme with sew) rah-n(g)ah (not Tow-rang-gah).

The macron – a little line above some vowels – indicates vowel length. Some words spelled the same have different meanings according to their vowel length. For example, anā means ‘here is’ or ‘behold’: Anā te tangata! (Here is the man!) Ana, with no macron, means a cave. Some writers of modern Māori double the vowel instead of using macrons when indicating a long vowel; the first example would be Anaa te tangata!

Has you done awfill English?

BBC: Why all English speakers worry about slipping up

The English language is confusing, inconsistent and easy to muddle. But some pour too much scorn on those who break the rules, writes James Harbeck.

Since Jonathan Swift’s 1712 Proposal for Correcting, Improving and Ascertaining the English Tongue, two centuries of self-appointed correctors and improvers of English usage – such as Robert Lowth, HW Fowler, George Orwell, Kingsley Amis, Simon Heffer, Lynne Truss, and Neville Gwynne – have decried the decadent state of our language and instructed people on how to use it better.

But what have they accomplished?

They have helped enforce agreement that there should be a standard version of the language. They have not, however, managed to set the exact details of that standard.

And the stream of the language has flowed on despite the damning practices prescribed by grammar doctors in the 1700s and 1800s that often look old-fashioned or bizarre now…

The language cannot be fixed in place, and its constant evolution does not always follow the tastes of its self-appointed guardians. Some of their proposed improvements have had inglorious careers: a rule – don’t split infinitives, don’t end sentences with prepositions, don’t start sentences with conjunctions – is decided in defiance of established usage. It is promulgated in books, taught in schools, and often used as an indicator of a writer’s level of education, yet it continues to be broken – productively by some (including many of the best writers), sloppily by others, guiltily by many.

One important effect the English-improvers have had, however, is on how people feel and talk about English usage. They have taught generations of English speakers that ‘bad English’ is a failure of intellectual and moral fibre.

Jonathan Swift, in 1712, talked of “Corruptions,” “Licentiousness,” and “barren” usages; Robert Lowth, in 1799, applied terms such as “perverted” and “barbarous”; Richard Grant White, in 1872, used phrases such as “utterly abominable”, “foolish and intolerable”, and said they showed “utter want of education and a low grade of intelligence” (and these against words such as donate, jeopardise, and preventative).

HW Fowler in 1908 spoke of “barbaric” usages, and the “special ugliness” that comes from a word with a “mongrel origin”, and counselled readers that “The effect of using quotation marks with slang is merely to convert a mental into a moral weakness.” George Orwell in 1946 inveighed against “slovenliness” and “sheer incompetence.”

In more recent years, writers guilty of some well-established word choices and writing habits have been called “slovenly” by Kingsley Amis; “abominable,” and “semi-literates” by Simon Heffer; “illiterate” by Neville Gwynne; and “moral weaklings” by Lynne Truss.

What these umpires of the English language have enabled and abetted is scorn based purely on details of the language itself rather than on extrinsic social differences.

There is a classism in it, but their ideal is not a nobleman (they often criticise errors in the speech of the high and mighty) but a person of careful, vigorous thought, moral propriety, manly directness, and the right sort of education, as evinced unfailingly by avoidance of specified vulgarisms and barbarisms.

They despise stupidity and low character, but they enfranchise their pupils to identify these not by the content of what is said but by a few simplistic rules of form: a belt of scorn grenades.

The English language can be confusing. Thanks to its history, its spelling is capriciously inconsistent; thanks to the vast body of literature that has grown over the centuries of its evolution, its variations of form are manifest.

To be an English speaker is unavoidably to have some degree of what William Labov called ‘linguistic insecurity’. People whose English is farther from the promoted ideal are more insecure, but you will not find an English speaker who does not at least occasionally fret about whether he or she is committing an error.

It’s not so surprising that people over the centuries have wanted to tidy it all up. But attempts at improvement have not been unequivocally successful, to say the least, and the tone in which they have been presented has done further injury.

It’s bad enough that we have to worry about being clear and consistent; thanks to the weaponisation of English grammar and vocabulary, we also have to worry about being seen as degenerate barbarian imbeciles.

The English language is confusing, infuriating and a marvellous  way to communicate expressively.

The evolution of English is fascinating, as are the efforts of some to stop it’s evolution in it’s tracks. What no one has been able to do is stop the expansion and diversification of English in it’s written tracks.

Like English ethnicity the language is a hodge podge of immigrant languages used in a wide variety of ways.

Writing clearly is important, but it depends on who your audience is as to what is clear and what is acceptable.

“A shared NZ language would be uniting”

We have had recent discussions about whether the Maori language should be taught more to children so that it becomes more widely used. alongside our other official spoken language, English.

Traveller posted this:


People often refer to what can be dropped out of the syllabus to accommodate the addition of Maori. I am not talking anything other than learning the language to fluency. I’m not talking the continuance at college, high school other than there be a general reinforcement of cultural Tikanga/Maoritanga and that it is ideally seamlessly incorporated.

From personal experience, I know that preschoolers are like the proverbial sponge and learn second languages quite naturally. How? Two of my children went to Kohanga Reo for preschool. One of them went on to study other languages in mainstream schooling very easily, something I attribute to the bilingual nature of his preschool exposure.

Of course, the impetus to converse would vary from kid to kid, depending on their sociability and parental, academic and social reinforcement. It’s accepted that learning a second language (or third, fourth and fifth) is exceptionally simple and quite natural to preschoolers.

Ask anyone who has raised kids in expat compounds, in say, Saudi. It is common for children to happily converse in Arabic, French, German, English and to switch to the mother tongue of whoever they encounter with ease.

There appears to be a ‘window’ of learning language that ‘opens’ at about the age of ten months. Infants can hear much earlier, of course, and there is some evidence that they can even hear in the womb. It is clear that they will begin to imitate the ‘noises’ they hear, and when there is a reaction from their caregivers, they begin to associate meanings with the sounds.

Over the next two years, infants acquire language at an astonishing rate. By the age of three, they have acquired basic syntax (sentence structure), basic grammar (the ‘rules’ of the language), and a large vocabulary of basic words necessary to their physical and emotional survival. Their motivation to talk with their caregivers is high: asking for something usually results in being given the thing they need.

Similarly, when the infant begins to play outside, with other children, then the motivation to talk to these children is high, and the infant will try to learn the language of play. Later on, at school, the language of the school will be important, too.”

There is considerable debate among linguists as to when the ‘language learning window’ closes, if it closes at all.

However, there does seem to be an ‘optimal’ age for language learning, when the child’s mind is still open and flexible, and not cluttered with all sorts of other learning, not to mention the society’s views on which languages are ‘prestige’ languages, and which ones are regarded by the society as of little or no importance. The latter affects motivation: children will be admired for speaking a ‘prestige’ language, and teased and bullied for speaking a ‘non-prestige’ language.

When the mind is being taught many many other things than language, there is less ‘processing space’ left for language learning. At the moment, the ‘optimal’ time for learning a second language appears to be ‘at the same time as the first language’, i.e. in the home beginning at birth to three years (providing the parents speak these two languages as their mother tongue).

The next best time for learning a second, third, and even a fourth language, appears to be between the ages of two to seven years.

A third period for learning a second language is from about ten to thirteen years of age, this is in cases when the second language is not the language of either the parents or the environment.

This is the reason behind the push to introduce ‘foreign’ language learning into the curriculum of elementary schools, in the grade when the child is about ten-eleven years old.

The ideal would be to introduce conversation to all children at pre-school level relatively intensely. As our society evolved to being more naturally bilingual the home teaching would become a driving factor.

I truly believe that a shared NZ language would be uniting rather than polarising.

http://linguistlist.org/ask-ling/biling.cfm


I agree that it would generally be uniting if children learned to speak Maori from a young age. There would be some grumbles but I think they would dissipate over time.

Children in mainstream now get taught a little Maori at school but nothing to the extent of being able to speak the language.

I’ve just spoken with a 12 year old who says they get taught some bits of the Maori language, and sing Maori songs, and but nothing conversational.

 

Whale Oil language gaff

Whale Oil frequently blasts other media when they make mistakes, especially NZ Herald. Missy pointed out:

I was having a brief look over at Whale Oil today, and I noticed a post Cam Slater has done on NZ Children learning languages, specifically Chinese, what struck me is that before posting a regurgitation of the article he put the following line in.

“Really? They don’t choose to learn Swiss or Brazilian?”

Now, since I thought it was common knowledge that Brazilian and Swiss are nationalities not languages – Portuguese is spoken in Brazil, and French, German, Italian and Romansh is spoken in Switzerland – I would have expected someone who seems to be picky about journalists in the MSM getting their facts straight would not have made such a stupid error.

This refers to the post SCHOOLCHILDREN PICK “CHINESE” AS THE LANGUAGE TO LEARN.

To be fair Cameron Slater may have been trying to be cute with his opening comment – surely he wouldn’t pick two countries like Brazil and Switzerland in total ignorance, and he makes a dig at ‘Chinese’ versus ‘Mandarin’ – but Missy is right, that’s the sort of apparent ignorance he would blast the Herald for.

It looks dumb, especially on a post about language.

Also, to be fair to language correctness, Standard Mandarin is also referred to as Standard Chinese (as well as Putonghua and Guoyu) so ‘Chinese’ is as correct as ‘Mandarin’.

And if you want to be nit-picky about ‘Chinese’ versus ‘Mandarin’ then perhaps it should be pointed out that “there are as many as 292 living languages in China.”

The languages most commonly spoken belong to the Sinitic branch of the Sino-Tibetan language family, which contains Mandarin (spoken natively by 70% of the population), and other Chinese languages: 

While 70% speaking Mandarin is a significant majority 30% of the Chinese population is over 400 million people.

The official language of China is Standard Mandarin, a variety of Mandarin based on the Beijing dialect.

Mandarin is also known as Standard Chinese (so ‘Chinese is a correct-ish variant) and also as Putonghua and Guoyu

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/China#Languages