Te reo Māori glossary

These kupu (words) can have the meanings described below, however kupu Māori have many layers of meaning depending on who is speaking and in what context.






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This glossary is based on the resources listed in the reference section below. 

Te reo Māori to English

Hapū – Pregnant, expectant, with child
Hauora wairua – Spiritual health
Hauora – Health
Hinengaro – Mind, consciousness, awareness
Kuia – Elderly woman, grandmother, female elder
Kaumātua – Elderly person or people
Māmā – Mother, mum
Manaakitanga –  Hospitality, kindness, generosity, support - the process of showing respect, generosity and care for others.
Māori – Māori, indigenous New Zealander, indigenous person of Aotearoa/New Zealand
Mauri – Life force, life principle, vital essence
Pēpi/pēpē – Baby
Tino rangatiratanga – self-determination, sovereignty, autonomy, self-government, domination, rule, control, power.
Rangatahi to be young
Rongoā – Remedy, medicine, drug, cure, medication, treatment
Taonga – Precious item or treasure
Tapu – Be sacred, set apart or under atua protection
Te Tiriti o Waitangi – Te reo Māori text describing the relationship between Māori and the Crown
Te Whare Tapa Whā – The model describes health and wellbeing as a wharenui/meeting house with four walls. These walls represent taha wairua/spiritual wellbeing, taha hinengaro/mental and emotional wellbeing, taha tinana/physical wellbeing and taha whānau/family and social wellbeing. Our connection with the whenua/land forms the foundation.
Wairua – Spirit, soul - spirit of a person which exists beyond death
Whānau – Extended family, family group
Whanaungatanga – Relationship, kinship, sense of family connection - a relationship through shared experiences and working together which provides people with a sense of belonging.
Whare – Home, house
Whānaungatanga – Relationship, kinship, sense of family connection


  1. Te Aka is a Māori language dictionary that is easy to use by searching for Māori or English words Te Aka Māori Dictionary(external link), NZ
  2. Te Reo Hapai, NZ A Māori language glossary for use in the mental health, addiction and disability sectors https://www.tereohapai.nz/(external link)
  3. Toi Te Kupu(external link) is a Māori-to-English and English-to-Māori dictionary about kai, cooking, our body and our mind. Toi Tangata and Heart Foundation, NZ
  4. Resources, stories and tools to support you on your reo Māori journey Reo Māori , NZ https://www.reomaori.co.nz/(external link)
  5. Te Whare Tapa Whā Mental Health Foundation, NZ(external link)


Credits: Healthify editorial team. Healthify is brought to you by Health Navigator Charitable Trust.