Māori Dictionary
A Maori Dictionary of common words and phrases has been compiled to help with their meanings and pronunciation.
Eske Style would like you to know that the information given below is intended as a general guide only.

           

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Place Names - Ingoa WÄhi

Ahipara


Sacred fire - this fire was kept burning constantly for the village, on the ground where the school is now located.

Ahuriri - Napier


Named after General Sir Charles James Napier (August 10, 1782 – August 29, 1853) was a British general and Commander-in-Chief in India. He is famous for conquering Sindh province now in present-day Pakistan.

Akarana. - Auckland


Is New Zealand's largest and fastest growing city.

Akaroa


Aka – harbour
roa – long.
Long Harbour.

Aoraki - Mt Cook


South Island Māori called Aoraki because raki is South Island pronunciation of rangi.

Aorangi - Mt Cook


Ao - cloud
rangi - sky.
At 3754 metres, New Zealand’s highest mountain in the Southern Alps of the South Island.

Aotearoa - New Zealand


Land of the long white cloud - as sighted by Kupe's wife Hine-te-Aparangi.
Comparable in size and/or shape to Great Britain, Colorado or Japan, New Zealand has a population of only 4 million - making it one of the world's least crowded countries.

Āwehrika - Africa


One of the seven continents of the World

Eketahuna


Eke – embark
tahuna – shoal, sandbank.

Hakaroa - Banks Peninsula


Located in the Canterbury region on the east coast of the South Island of New Zealand.

Haruru


Big Roar

Hauraki - Hauraki


Hau - wind
raki - north.
The great gulf east of Auckland.

Hawaiki - Hawaiki


The legendary homeland of the Māori people of Aotearoa / New Zealand.

Hawera


Burnt place which is apt as the town suffered extensive blazes in 1884, 1888 and 1912. For this reason a large water tank was built close to the town, and is now one of Taranaki’s best-known landmarks.

Heretaunga - Hastings


Situated in the middle of the Heretaunga Plains close to the east coast of the North Islandn New Zealand.

Hokianga-Nui-a-Kupe - Hokianga


The place of Kupe's return.
Hoki - return
anga - face or move in a certain direction.
Hokianga-Nui-A-Kupe – the place of Kupe’s great return.

Horowhenua


Horo - Slip
whenua - land.

Houhora


Hou - feather
hora – scatter over a surface.

Huka


Huka - foam.

Huna


Hunua – infertile, high country.

Hurunui


Bushy tops of trees

Ingarangi - England


Kingdom occupying together with Wales the southern part of Great Britain

Irimahuwhero


Iri – hanging
mahu – hair
whero – red.
Hanging red hair. On the seaward side of the headland there are masses of Rata trees which are sometimes ablaze with red blooms.

Itari - Italy


Situated in Mediterranean Europe, the capital city being Roma.

Kai Iwi


Kai - food
Iwi - tribe.

Kaiaua


Kai – food
aua – herring.
Meal of herring.

Kaikohe


Kai - food
kohe - climbing plant.

Kaikoura


Kai – food
koura – crayfish.
Meal of crayfish.

Kaitaia


Kai - food
taia – neap.
Outer palisade of a pā

Kaiwaka


Kai – food
waka – canoe.

Kapiti


Ko Te Waewae Kapiti 0 Tara Raua ko Rangitane - a phrase which means The meeting place of the boundaries of Tara and Rangitane. Tara is the son, and Rangitane is the grandson of Whatonga, a M&3275;ori navigator from the Ngai Tara Iwi. Located in the north-west corner of the Wellington region, North Island, New Zealand.

Kapowairua


Spirits Bay.
Tōhē lived here at Kapowairua – so named because when Tōhē was about to set off to visit his daughter, he told his people that in the event of his death they should grasp (kapo) his spirit (wairua).

Karangahake Gorge


The alerting call from the other side

Karikari


To strip off or dig

Kawakawa


Native tree of New Zealand.
Kawakawa is a relative of both the Asian plant producing 'black peppercorns' and the Polynesian species from which Kava is made. The New Zealand species has traditionally been used as a medicine to treat a wide range of illnesses. Perhaps it is most efficacious as a tonic, when the leaves are made into a tea by being steeped in hot water. Maori custom is to wear leafy twigs of Kawakawa at a tangi (funeral).

Kawatiri


Swift and deep.

Kawerau


Kawe - carry
rau - leaves, hundred.

Kawiti


Taper, dwindle

Kerikeri


Dig up repeatedly

Kirikiriroa - Hamilton


Kirikiri – gravel
roa – long.
Long stretches of gravel.

Ko Te Waewae Kapiti O Tara Raua Ko Rangitane' - Kapiti


The place of the boundaries between Tara and Rangitane. Tara is the son and Rangitane is the grandson of Whatonga, a Maori navigator from the Ngai Tara Iwi.
Located in the north- west corner of the Wellington Region North Island New Zealand

Kohanga Reo


Kohanga - nest
Reo - language
Language Nest

Kohukohu


Sheltered from the wind

Kororāreka


Kororā - blue penguin
reka - sweet, pleasant, agreeable.
Before the arrival of Europeans, Russell was known by its Māori name, Kororāreka. Its name at that time reflected a legend that a wounded chief asked for penguin and on tasting the broth said " Ka reka to korora." (How sweet is the penguin.)It was just one of many small settlements in Pewhairangi/Bay of Islands.

koutou


you (more than two)

Kura-tawhiti - Greytown


Greytown owes its existence to the energy and initiative of early settlers in Wellington who were looking for small affordable portions of land to farm and to the assistance of the Governor, Sir George Grey. This was acknowledged by the settlers who named the town Greytown in his honour.

kurī - dog

Lake Onoke


The place of the Earth Worm.
Situated on the Wairarapa Plains from which allowed the Ruamahanga to flow freely directly into the Lake thereby avoiding the floods of days gone by.

Lake Taharoa


Taha – side, edge
roa – long, tall.

Maitai


Good, beautiful, agreeable

Maitai Bay


Good, beautiful, agreeable

Manawatu - Manawatu


Manawa - heart
tu - standing still.
District in the Manawatu-Wanganui region of the North Island New Zealand

Mangamuka


Manga - stream
muka - shoot of nikau

Manganuiowae


Manga - stream
nui - big
o - of
wae - feet

Mangataipa


Manga - stream
taipa - to keep shut.

Mangatini


Manga – stream
tini – many.

Mangere - Mangere


Mangere - lazy.
Small township found in the Manukau City District in the North Island of New Zealand.

Mangonui


Mango – shark
nui – big.
Big Shark.

Manukau


Manu - bird
kau - wade, swim.
Māori oral tradition tells of the portage of the waka (canoe) Tainui from the Tamaki River to the harbour in the west. As the voyagers paddled down the harbour, a Tainui elder was alarmed by what he believed to be human voices. Later the cries were discovered to be birds. The phrase ‘manu kau noa iho’, which translates as 'they were only birds', has remained in condensed form as Manukau Harbour.

Mata-au - Clutha


To the local
āori Clutha was known as Mata-au which means surface current but was finally named Clutha which is Gaelic for Clyde by the Scottish settlers after a river in their native country.

Matakohe


Mata - face, headland, point
kohe - a climbing tree.

Matamata


Headland, point or extremity.
The point of land on which the pā (fortified village) was built projected like a tongue into the surrounding swamp.

Matapouri


Invisible or Hidden Place because of the fact that the western headland hides Matapouri Bay from the open sea it was once known as Otito, meaning - a lie.
Gloomy, a black teal or a shellfish.

Matauri Bay


Ma - white
tauri – feathers or hair attached to a taiaha.

Maungakiekie


Maunga - mountain, hill
kiekie - name of a vine.
Hill of a kiekie vine.
One Tree Hill.
Located in Cornwall Park, Auckland New Zealand. One of the largest volcanoes in the Auckland and is a prominent Auckland landmark.

Maungarei


Mt Wellington
Suburb in Auckland

Maungataniwha


Maunga - mountain
taniwha - monster.

Maungaturoto


Maunga - mountain
tu - stand, be erect
roto - lake.

Maungawhau


Mt Eden.
Suburb of Auckland

Mawhera - Greymouth


Widespread river mouth. Referring to the broad mouth of the Grey River, and is the site of Greymouth.

Motuarohia


Motu - island
arohia - reconnaissance.
The island that was spied on.

Motueka


In full Motuweka.
Motu – clump of trees
weka – wood hen.
The name originally came from Hawaiki.

Motukahakaha


Motu - island, separated
kaha - boundary, line, lineage
kaha - strong, able, strength

Motuopao


Motu - separated, moved to a distance
o - of, from
pao - strike, break, crack, hatch.

Moturoa - Rabbit Island


Motu - Island
roa - long.
Long Island.

Murihuku


Muri – end
huku – tail.
End of the tail.
So named because it is at the southern end of the South Island.

Ngā Kuri-aWhārei - Katikati

Ngā Pākihi-whatatekateka-a-Waitaha - Canterbury Plains

Ngā Puke-māeroero - Southern Alps

Ngakawau


Nga – The
kawau - shag.

Ngamotu - New Plymouth


Is part of the Taranaki region situated on the West Coast of Central North Island, New Zealand.

Ngatea


Nga - the
tea - white, clear.

Ngāwhā


Overflow, boiling springs

Ohakune


O - the place of
hakune - to be careful.

Ohaua


Oha - dying speech
u - place (of arrival)
a - at the time of

Ohinemuri River


O - The place of
hinemuri - weeping waters.

Ōhungahunga


O - The place of
hungahunga - tow, down, nap of a garment.

Ohungahunga


O - the place of
hungahunga - tow, down, nap off a garment.

Okiato


O - the place of
kiato - a receptacle for holding sacred objects

Omahuri


Oma - move quickly
huri - turn to

Omapere


Oma - Move quickly, run, flee
pere - throw an arrow or dart, generally by means of a thong and rod.
O - The place of
mapere - a plant.

Onetahua - Farewell Spit


One - sand
tahua - heaped up.
Heaped up sand.

Opononi


The place of Pononi.

Opotiki


Originates from the name of a spring off the eastern bluff of Waiotahi Beach called "O-Potiki-Mai-Tawhiti"meaning - two pets from afar or the place of the young child.

Opua


Opua - porch or verandah;
O - the place of
pua - flower;

Orewa


O - The place of rewa.
rewa - Rewa is a fruit growing near the ends of a gourd.

Oruaiti


O - the place of
rua - two, both
iti - small

Otamahua - Quail Island


O - the place of;
tama –short for Tamariki
hua – eggs.
Ngāi Tahu knew Quail Island as Otamahua, which means the place where children collected sea birds’ eggs.

Otangaroa


O - the place of
tangaroa - god of the sea.

Ōtautahi - Christchurch


O - the place of Tautahi.

Ōtepoti - Dunedin


O - the place of
te – the
poti – corner, angle.

Otorohanga


O - Food for the journey
torohanga - cause to extend over a long distance.
Food eked out. A chief who was going to Taupo carried only a small quantity of food which he made last out the journey by means of magic.

Owhango


O - the place of
whango - hoarse, nasal sound.

Paeotumokai


Early name of Featherson.
Place of the Slaves.

Paeroa


Pae - ridge or range
roa - long.
Long low ridge of hills.

Pahi


Ended, brought to a conclusion.

Pahiatua


Pahi resting place,
atua – god.
The resting place of a god.

Paihia


Good here.
It is believed that Reverend Henry Williams came to New Zealand knowing only a few words of Māori, one of them being ‘pai’meaning good. When they came to this place, he turned to his companion, a Māori chief, and said ‘Pai here’

Pāmutana - Palmerston North


Located in the Manawatu District North Island New Zealand

Papaeioea - Palmerston North


Located in the Manawatu District North Island New Zealand

Papakura


The town's name originates from Māori words papa-kura meaning ‘red earth’ reflecting the rich, fertile soil upon which the community was founded. The indigenous residents are Māori, who built a Pa named ‘Puke Kiwiriki’, at the top of Red Hill. The site has a panoramic view of the approaches to Papakura

Paparoa


Papa - flat, broad, hard
roa - long.
Long, flat rock.

Paraawanui


Paraawa - Gale, tempest
nui - big, large

Pārāwai - Thames


Known as the 'Gateway to the Coromandel Peninsula' North Island New Zealand

Parengarenga


A kind of legging made of flax leaves
The renga lily, or the place where the lily grows

Pareora


Life giving or bountiful.

Pauatahanui


Big Shellfish.

Pawarenga


Pawa – smoke
renga – be full.

Pewhairangi


Unable to find a translation at this stage.

Piranui


Pi - origin, source, flow
ra - sun, day, sail
nui - big, large, plentiful

Poneke - Wellington


Night movement.

Pongaroa


Ponga - tree fern, game.
roa – long, many

Porirua


When Kupe, the Māori explorer paddled through the harbours many years ago, he described the region as ‘Parirua - The flowing of the two tides, a reference to the two arms of the Porirua Harbour.
Today the city is better known as Porirua

Puheke


Flow

Pukekohe


Puke – hill
kohe – a native tree.
Hill where the kohekohe tree grows.

Punakaiki


Puna – spring
kaiki – to lie in a heap.

Puponga


Hunched up

Pupuke


Pupuke - overflowing lake

Putataua


Puta - battle, opening, appear
taua - army, give way, succeed

Pūtauaki - Mt Edgecumbe

Raetihi


Rae - headland
tihi - summit, peak.

Rāhui-pōkeka - Huntly

Rakiura - Stewart Island


Rakiura - Glowing skies - possibly a reference to the
sunsets for which Stewart Island is famous for the aurora ustralis the Southern Lights that are a phenomenon of our Southern latitudes.
The southern most island of New Zealand.

Rangaunu


Ranga - shoal of fish
unu - to pull out.
Good fishing.

Rangikapiti


Rangi - upper regions
kapiti - joined

Rangiriri


Rangi - sky
riri - angry.
The angry sky.

Rangitata


Lowering cloud.

Rangitikei


Rangi -sky
'tikei - extend, stretch out.

Rānui-pōkeka - Huntly


Located in the Waikato District North Island, New Zealand.

Rarotonga - Mt Smart

Rawene


Setting Sun

Rimutaka


From the Mā remutaka - to sit down.

Rotoiti


Roto – Lake
iti – little.

Rotokakahi


Roto - lake
kakahi - freshwater shellfish.

Rotoroa


Roto -Lake
roa - long.

Rotorua


The full name is Rotorua-nui-a-Kahu.
Roto - lake
rua - two.
Literally translated Rotorua means second lake. It was named by the Māori chief Ihenga, as it was the second major lake that he discovered. The lake is the largest of a multitude found to the north and east of the city, all connected with the Rotorua Caldera and nearby Mount Tarawera.

Ruamahanga River


Relating to the River.
Rua - two
mahanga - forks.
Situated in the South Wairarapa District at the southern most corner of New Zealand's North Island.

Ruapehu


Rua - two
pehu - to explode.

Ruawai


Rua - two
wai - water.
Named in recognition of the location beside two waters, the Northern Wairoa River and the Kaipara Harbour.

Tahunanui


Tahuna – sandbank
nui – many, big.

Taipa


Keep the mouth shut, be silent

Tairawhiti - Gisborne


The coast upon which the sun shines across the water.

Tairawhiti - Gisborne


the coast upon which the sun shines across the water

Takahue


Taka - heap
hue - gourds.

Takaka


Bracken

Takapuna


taka - assembly
puna - spring

Tamaki Makau Rau - Auckland


Located in the North Island of New Zealand.

Tamaki-nui-a-Rua - Dannevirke

Taranaki


Tara - peak
naki - slide

Taranaki


Tara - peak
naki - glide.

Tararua


Tara - peaks
rua - two.
Two Peaks.

Taumarere


To fall.
a cord passed over the ridgepole of a house.
or tranquil season.

Taumarumaru


Shady

Taumarunui


Taumaru - shaded, overshadowing
nui - big.

Taupo


The full name is Taupo-nui-a-Tia.
Taupo - shoulder cloak.
nui - big.
Tia - is the name of the discoverer of the lake.
Literally translated it means ‘The great cloak of Tia’.

Taupo Bay


A ferruginous earth or stone.
A rough black and yellow cloak.

Tauranga


Resting place or anchorage for canoes.

Tauranga Bay


A resting place for canoes.

Tautoko - Levin

Te Ara a Kiwa - Foveaux Straight


A seaway 16 miles wide, separating Stewart Island from the South Island.

Te Awamutu


Te – the
awa – river
mutu – cut short, or ended.

Te Hapua Bay


Te – The
Hapua – Hollow like a valley, pool, lagoon

Te Kohanga o Te Tai Tokerau


The nest of the northern people.

Te Kopi


Palliser Bay.
Situated in the South Wairarapa District at the southern most corner of New Zealand's North Island.

Te Kuiti


Original Māori is Te Kuiti-tanga.
The closing in or the narrowing in, which is represented by the hills closing in when approaching from the north.
Te Kuiti O Nga Whakaaro O Te Iwi - narrowing down or concentrated thoughts of the people.

Te Maru - Timaru


place of shelter

Te Matakitaki a Kupe


Cape Palliser, from the Māori - The Gazing of Kupe.
A fur seal colony breeds at Cape Palliser, the only place in the North Island where breeding is well established.

Te Matau-a-Māui - Hawke's Bay


a gift from the sea

Te Moana-a-Toi-te-huatahi


Bay of Plenty

Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa - South Pacific Ocean


South Pacific Ocean

Te Moana-tāpokopoko-a-Tāwhaki


Southern Seas

Te Ngaere Bay


Te – The
Ngaere - Quake, oscillate, as a bog, swamp.
Roll, as the sea.
Soft and ripe.

Te Oha-a-Maru - Oamaru

Te Oneroa-a-Tōhē


Ninety Mile Beach

Te Oreore - Masterton

Te Paeroa o Toi - Coromandel Range


The long range of Toi.

Te Papa-i-oea - Palmerston North


Here are beauties indeed.

Te Parinui o Whiti - White Bluff


Located near Clifford Bay, of the Marlborough District New Zealand.

Te Puke


The Hill.

Te Punga o Te Waka - Stewart Island


The southern most island of New Zealand.
The Anchor Stone of Maui’s Canoe - It refers to the part played by this Island in the legend of Maui and his crew, who from their canoe, the South Island, caught and raised the great fish, the North Island.

Te Raki-pae-whenua - Northcote

Te Rakiura a Te Rakitamau a Maui - Stewart Island


The southern most island of New Zealand.
Great blush of Rakitamau - In reference to the latter's embarrassment when refused the hand in marriage of not one, but two daughters of an Island chief.

Te Rerenga Wairua - Cape Reinga


Te Rerenga - the place one flies from.
Wairua - spirit.
Reinga - Place of leaping.

Te Tai o Rehua


Tasman Sea

Te Taihau-ā-uru


West Coast of New Zealand

Te TairTe Tairawhiti whiti


East Coast of New Zealand

Te Taitokerau - Northland

Te Tau Ihu o Te Waka a Maui


The prow or tip of Maui’s canoe for which Maui fished up the North Island for which the Nelson Region is named.

Te Waimatemate


Slow moving waters
First name given to the district by the Māori that settled by the river, now known as Waimate.

Te Waipounamu - South Island


Te - the
Wai - water
pounamu - greenstone.
One of the main islands of New Zealand

Te Waka a Māui - South Island


The Canoe of Maui.

Te Werahi


Te - The
We - Liquid
rahi - Plentiful

Te Whanganui-a-Tara - Wellington


Referring to Wellington harbour - The great harbour of Tara.
The founding ancestor of the first Māori settlers of Wellington harbour. The descendants of Tara are known as the Ngai Tara.

tēnā tātou katoa


greetings to us all (speaker included)
thanks to all of us

Timaru


Place of shelter.

Tokerau


Northern Autumn.

Tokoroa


Toko - pole
roa - long.
It was also the name of a Māori Chief who was killed as he led his people against the British in the mid 1800s.

Tuakau


Tu – to stand
akau – shore or coast.
To stand by the shore of the river.

Turoa


Tu - to stand
roa - tall.

Ūropi - Europe

Wāiharakeke - Blenheim


Wai - water
harakeke - flax.
Water where the flax grows.
Located on the northeast of the South Island of New Zealand.

Waihi


Wai - water
hi - raise or draw up.

Waīhopai - Invercargill


Located in the southern Plains of the South Island New Zealand.

Waikato


Wai - water
kato - flow.
Flowing water.

Waikato Bay


Wai – water
kato – flowing flood.

Waikere


Wai – water
kere – clay, earth.

Waikerikeri - Selwyn River


Wai – water
Kerikeri – rushing along.

Waikoropupu


Wai – water
koro – old
pupu – sea snail.

Waimakariri


Wai – water
makariri – cold.

Waimate


Wai - water
mate - stagnant

Waingawa


Correct pronunciation is Wai-a-wanga: Water of hesitation.
Hau hesitated to cross this river when in pursuit of his wife.

Wainui


Wai - water
nui - big, large.

Waiohine


Wai - water
o - of
hine - girl.

Waiouru


Wai - water
o - of
uru - chief.

Waipa


Wai - water
pa - fortified village.
Fortified village beside water.

Waipoua


Wai - Water
poua - old.
Wai – water
po – night
ua – rain.
Water that comes from the rain at night

Wairarapa


Glistening Waters.

Wairoa


Wai - water
roa - long.

Waitaha - Canterbury

Waitakere


Wai - Water
takere - deep
Deep pools or cascading waters. It is thought that the Auckland Waitakere may possibly be a corruption of Waitekauri, stream where the Kauri grows; but it is almost certain that it was named after a chief who was murdered at the mouth of the stream.

Waitaki


Wai - water
taki - sounding.
Rumbling waters, coming from the sound of the river over the shingle beds. There is a legend that the river was formed by the tears of two brothers whose sister was drowned at the mouth of the river and turned into a rock. The brothers were transformed into two hills near Ohou and their tears form the river of weeping.

Waitangi


Wai - water
tangi - weeping, mourning.

Waitomo


Wai - water
tomo - shaft.
Water entering the cave by means of long shafts.

Waiuku


Wai - water
uku - white clay.

Wakatipu


Trough or hole of the giant

Whāingaro - Raglan


Raglan, a coastal town on the west coast of the North Island of New Zealand some 50 km from Hamilton is famous for it's surfing, music, artisans, cafés and lifestyle.

Whakaari


White Island.

Whakaoriori - Masterton


The largest town in the Wairarapa region in the southeastern North Island of New Zealand.

Whakapara


To make a clearing in the forest.

Whakapirau


Whaka - towards the direction of
pirau - rotten.

Whakatāne


To act as a man.

Whakatū - Nelson


Located at the top northwest corner of the South Island of New Zealand.

Whanganui


Large stretch of water.

Whangape


Whanga - Stretch of water, bay
pe - crushed.

Whangarei


Cherished Harbour.

Whangaroa


Whanga - Stretch of water, bay
roa - long.

Whangatupere


Whanga - bay
tupere - a small shark

Wharariki


Whara – be struck, be hit accidentally
riki – small, be broken into little pieces.

Wharekauri - Chatham Islands


Located east of the South Island, the ‘Chathams’, as they are affectionately known, is approximately a 1 ¾ hour flight from Wellington or Christchurch! The distance that separates the islands from the mainland puts Chatham Islands 45 minutes ahead of standard New Zealand time, and a close look at the international dateline shows that the Chathams are the first to see the light of every new day - a fact that made the islands famous at the time of the new millennium.

Whatuwhiwhi


Whatu – weave baskets, baskets
whiwhi - can, be able.
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