Te Reo Māori Terms

hapūKinship group, clan, subtribe
huiLiterally a gathering or meeting. As used in this report, hui refers to a community meeting conducted according to tikanga Māori (Māori protocol).
iwiOften translated as “tribe”. Iwi is a collection of hapū (clans) that are composed of whānau (defined below). The link between the three groups is genealogical.
kaitiakiTrustee, minder, guard, custodian, guardian, caregiver, keeper, steward.

Guardianship, stewardship, trusteeship, trustee.


Adult, elder, elderly person, old man – a person of status within the whānau.


Purpose, mission, or approach. Kaupapa Māori means an approach reflecting

mokopunaGrandchild – child or grandchild of a son, daughter, nephew, niece, etc.
pākehāNew Zealander of European descent; literally English, European or foreign.
rangatiraChieftain, chieftainess, master, mistress, boss, supervisor, employer, landlord, owner, proprietor.
rangatiratangaA contested term in the context of Te Tiriti o Waitangi. It can refer to chieftainship or chiefly authority and leadership. Other interpretations include “sovereignty” and autonomy.
roheBoundary, district, region, territory, area, border (of land).
rūnangaA governing body associated with an iwi.
Te Puni KōkiriThe Ministry of Māori Development.
Te Tiriti o WaitangiThe Treaty of Waitangi. The treaty signed by representatives of the British Crown and various Māori chiefs at Waitangi on 6 February 1840. The Treaty is one of New Zealand’s founding documents. The Treaty has English and Māori versions. The translations do not strictly align.
tangata whenuaLiterally “the people of the land”.
tāongaThat which is precious or treasured
taura hereBinding ropes, urban kinship group, domestic migrants, kinship link.
te ao MāoriLiterally “the Māori world”.
Te Ika a MāuiLiterally “the fish of Māui” – the North Island of New Zealand.
Te Hiku o Te IkaThe part of the Far North District that is north of the Hokianga.
Te WaipounamuThe South Island.
tikangaLiterally “the things that are correct”. Sometimes translated as “protocol” or “customary practice”, tikanga is the customary system of values and practices that have developed over time and are deeply embedded in the social context.
tino rangatiratangaSelf-determination, self-governance.
wāhi tapuSacred place, sacred site – a place subject to long-term ritual restrictions on access or use (eg, a burial ground or a battle site).
wānangaPublicly owned tertiary institutions that provide education in a Māori cultural context.
whakapapaGenealogy, genealogical table, lineage, descent.
whānauTypically translated as “families”. Whānau may refer to nuclear or extended families.

Māori Values and Culture

kawanatangaThe features and actions of governing.
kohaGift or donation
kōhanga reoLiterally “language nests” – pre-school Māori culture and language immersion programmes.
kōrero kanohi ki te kanohiConversing face to face
kura kaupapa MāoriMāori-medium schools.
manaPrestige, authority, control, power, influence, status, spiritual power, charisma.
manaakiSupport, hospitality, kindness, generosity.
manaakitangaThe process of showing respect, generosity and care for others. It has an overtone of hospitality towards those outside a group one identifies with. In its simplest definition (hospitality), all Māori groups or whānau will exercise manaakitanga at some time.
mana motuhakeA political concept, emphasising autonomy and self-government.
mana whakahaereTranslated variously as the “power to manage”, “governance” or “authority”.
mana whenuaThe iwi or hapū who are recognised as deriving mana (authority/status) from their ancestral connection to a particular piece of land or stretch of coastline.
maraeLiterally “courtyard” – the open area in front of the wharenui, (meeting house) where formal greetings and discussions take place. Often also used to include the complex of buildings around the marae.
mataawakaRefers to the Māori population in one area that is connected to an iwi or hapū who holds mana whenua somewhere outside that area.



Common Māori Terms

The following list of terms are in common useage nationally. To get a thorough understanding of terminology we recommend enrolment at a Te Reo course.