When traveling around New Zealand, you will notice a lot of bilingual signs (for example in the Haka Lodges!) and place-names. These are written in English and in Te Reo Māori.
Te Reo Māori is the indigenous language of Aotearoa (New Zealand) and is central to the Māori culture. It is also one of New Zealand’s three official languages, along with English and New Zealand Sign Language.
As mentioned in our first culture post, Māori words and phrases are very present in day-to-day conversations between locals and also in the NZ media.
But don’t you worry, the ordinary traveler won’t need to learn a heap of Te Reo to be understood. That said, it’s always useful to know a few basics.
To get you prepared, here’s a little crash course in Te Reo Māori!
- Kia ora (is pronounced kee-a o-ra) / Hello! & Thank you (more often used
as a greeting than to say thank you)
- Tēnā koutou / Hello (to a group of people)
- Kei te pēhea koe? / How are you?
- Ka nui te ora / I’m great
- Me koe? / And you?
- Koa / Please (as in “Homai koa he kaputi = Give me a cup of tea, please”)
- Tenā / Please (as in “Tēnā homai he kaputi = Please give me a cup of tea”)
- Ae / Yes
- Kāore / No
- Haere rā / Goodbye (to someone leaving)
- E noho rā / Goodbye (to someone staying)
- Ka kite anō / See you again
- Hei konā / See you later
- Kai / Food
- Koha / Gift, Present (usually money, can be food or precious items, given
by guest to hosts)
- Whānau / extended family
- Maunga / mountain
- Hīkoi / walk
- Pākeha / New Zealander of non-Maori descent, usually European
- Iwi / tribe
- Aotearoa / New Zealand – literally – Long white cloud
Here you’ve got the basics, now just check out a handy pronunciation guide like this one, to learn how to say them in the correct way. Then you’re all set for your
New Zealand adventure!
These articles were created as a contribution to further the understanding of the Māori culture for visitors coming to New Zealand. Everything on our blog was written to our best knowledge, and all of this information was collected using sources we trust.
Nevertheless, neither we, nor our sources are always perfect (although we try!). So if there is anything that sparks your attention, if you have any comments, concerns or suggestions, just flick us an email at email@example.com and we are happy to re-check and correct them if necessary!