Te Reo Māori - The Māori language

In New Zealand the Māori language is experiencing a revival. Try to learn some Māori language phrases while you're here – start with 'Kia ora' – hello!

When you visit New Zealand you will immediately become aware of the Māori language, as the vast majority of place names are indigenous. At first you may be puzzled by the seemingly impossible-to-pronounce names. In fact, Māori has a logical structure and, unlike English, has very consistent rules of pronunciation.

Kia ora = Hello in the Māori language

Try these expressions:

Kia ora - Hello
Kia ora tātou - Hello everyone
Tēnā koe - Greetings to you (said to one person)
Tēnā koutou - Greetings to you (said to three or more people)
Nau mai, haere mai - Welcome
Kei te pēhea koe? - How’s it going?
Kei te pai - Good
Tino pai - Really good
Ka kite anō - See you again

How do you say Onehunga, Whangamomona and Ngunguru?

The Māori language consists of five vowel sounds: a e i o u (‘a’ as in ‘car’, ‘e’ as in ‘egg’, ‘i’ like the ‘ee’ in ‘tee’, ‘o’ as in ‘four’, ‘u’ like an ‘o’ in ‘to’). There are eight consonants in Māori similar to those in English — ‘h’, ‘k’, ‘m’, ‘n’, ‘p’, ‘r’, ‘t’, and ‘w’. There are also two different consonants — ‘wh’ and ‘ng’. Many Māori pronounce the ‘wh’ sound similar to our ‘f’. The ‘ng’ is similar to our own ‘ng’ sound in a word like ‘sing’, except that in Māori, words can start with ‘ng’.

Māori language revival

The Māori language is considered a national taonga (treasure) and is spoken by around 23 percent of New Zealanders. The language is undergoing a revival, with initiatives like Māori Language Week, Māori language schools (from pre-school through to high school) and a Māori language television station all playing a role in growing Te Reo.

Read moreClose

Where to hear it

These experiences offer the chance to hear (and even practice) the Māori language.

Where to next?

Māori culture →

Marae - Māori meeting grounds →

Haka - Māori war dances →