Glossary of Māori Terms and Phrases

At the museum on Puke-ahu

He waiata mō ngā taonga A song for the treasures
Tapu Sacred
Taonga Treasure(s)
Ngā Tāngata Taumata Rau Dictionary of NZ Biography, Volume I, Māori edition
Karakia Prayer
Haka Posture dance
Whaikōrero Speech
Waiata Song
Tohunga Priest
Tāngata whenua People of the land
Kaumātua Elder
Manuhiri Guest(s)
Koha Gift
Marae Courtyard of meeting house
Whakapapa Genealogy
Whare whakairo Carved house
Te Hau-ki-Tūranga Meeting house in National Museum
Tāwhirimatea God of winds
Āwhinatia mai, Arohatia rā Give help, show compassion

E Waka!

Tāngata whenua People of the land
Tūpuna Ancestors
E Waka! Canoes

History lesson

Urupā Burial ground
Whakapapa Genealogical table


Tēnei This
Tēnā That (near you)
Tērā That (away from us)
Tika Correct

What I’d like

Papatūānuku Mother earth
Tangaroa God of the sea

Let go, unlearn, give back

Taonga Treasure

*This glossary of terms is taken directly from J. C. Sturm’s Dedications (1996) and Postscripts (2000) and organised as per the original publication, with each poem having its own section. On the occasion of republishing this selection of her poems we have added the Māori language glyph, which was not in common usage at the time of initial publication but now is. The macron indicates a longer vowel sound and can also denote the plural. The addition of the macron was done in consultation with Sturm’s son, John Baxter.

Additional Glossary**

Māori Indigenous person of Aotearoa New Zealand—a new use of the word resulting from Pākehā contact in order to distinguish between people of Māori descent and the colonisers.
Pākehā New Zealander of European descent—probably originally applied to English-speaking Europeans living in Aotearoa New Zealand.
Whānau Extended family, family group, a familiar term of address to a number of people—the primary economic unit of traditional Māori society. In the modern context, the term is sometimes used to include friends who may not have any kinship ties to other members.
Iwi Extended kinship group, tribe, nation, people, nationality, often refers to a large group of people descended from a common ancestor and associated with a distinct territory.
Mauri Life principle, life force, vital essence, special nature, a material symbol of a life principle, source of emotions—the essential quality and vitality of a being or entity. Also used for a physical object, individual, ecosystem, or social group in which this essence is located.
Tikanga Correct procedure, custom, habit, lore, method, manner, rule, way, code, meaning, plan, practice, convention, protocol—the customary system of values and practices that have developed over time and are deeply embedded in the social context.

**These definitions are taken from the Māori Dictionary online.