The Māori Language

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The Māori Language 

Te Reo Māori is the native tongue of Māori New Zealanders. As a proud Kiwi owned company our values reflect those of Āotearoa New Zealand, the country we represent – a tolerant, diverse, inclusive and welcoming society 

 Welcome To New Zealand - Nāu mai ki Āotearoa. 

Ko tēnei wāhi he wāhi ataahua, mō a koe mē tōu whānau, ki te noho, ki te mahi, ki te whakatipu.

Ko tēnei he wāhi e kī atu i ngā hihi kanapa ō te rā. 

He mihi mahana tēnei ki a Koutou katoa. Mai ā mātou, ki a Koutou, 

Tēnā Koutou, 

Nāu Mai, Hāere mai, ki Āotearoa. 

The History of Te Reo Māori   

Over the last two hundred years the history of this language  has been one of ups and downs. At the beginning of the 19th century, it was the predominant language spoken in Āotearoa New Zealand. Early migrants were dependent on Māori for many things, they had to learn the language and speak its regional variations if they wished to trade.  

Between 1814 and 1820 the language was put into written form. However, things changed quickly when the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi was signed, and Britain took sovereignty  over New Zealand. 

The British quickly established English as the language of trade and communication. In 1867 The Native Schools Act was passed, this demanded punishment for school children speaking Māori and secured the future dominance of English. With migrants arriving in waves the population of Pākehā (New Zealanders of European descent) grew enormously. By the 20th century, English had almost completely taken over.

The Revival of Te Reo Māori 

 Moving into the 20th century there had been an almost irreparable loss of Te Reo and Māori culture. While many of the elders kept their various tribal dialects alive, young Māori were growing up in a school system where they were only taught English, to the detriment of their culture. By the mid 20th century there were concerns that Te Reo Māori, the native tongue of Māori New Zealanders was dying out. 

By 1970 a revival was underway, Māori leaders and protest movements became increasingly vocal in rejecting the historical stigmas associated with their language and culture. They were joined by Pākehā New Zealander’s who began looking for Māori culture to make sense of their own cultural identity. A major turning point was achieved in 1987 when the Māori Language Act was passed giving official language status to Te Reo Māori. 

A National Treasure - Te Reo Māori 

 Today, the Māori language is considered a national tāonga, (treasure) Initiatives such as Māori Language Week, Māori language schools (from pre-school through to high school) and a Māori language television station all play a role in making sure Te Reo remains a living language. The music of this beautiful language is being spread worldwide by our biggest stars, including Stan Walker, Six60, Drax Projects, Che Fu and Bic Runga, Lorde, to name a few. 

Today, it is generally acknowledged there are significant employment, economic and social benefits available to those who learn Te Reo Māori. It is becoming part of New Zealand fabric,  it’s part of our country, and part of what makes New Zealand, or Āotearoa, what we are. While we have come a long way, the latest survey identifies that only 4% of New Zealander’s are currently fluent in Te Reo Māori. The government has set a target of having 20% speaking fluently by 2040, there’s still a long way to go. 

Learning Māori Greetings 

We recommend that before you arrive in Āotearoa, New Zealand attempt to learn some basic Māori greetings. Try using these anywhere you go in New Zealand, the response will usually be a big smile. 

How do you say 'hello' in Māori?

Kia ora


Mōrena/ Ata mārie

Good morning 

Tēnā koe

Hello (more formal than kia ora- and said to one person) 

Kia ora kōrua

Hello to two people Kia ora koutou – Hello everyone 

Tēnā koutou

Greetings to you (said to three or more people) 

Nāu mai, hāere mai


Kei te pēhea koe?

How’s it going? 

Kei te pai


Tino pai

Really good 

How do you say 'goodbye' in Māori?

Ka kite anō

See you later 

Hāere rā


How do you say 'Thank you' in Māori?

Kia ora

As well as being a greeting,  this is a general expression of appreciation. 

Tēnā koe

Thank you to one person.

Tēnā kōrua

Thank you to two people.

Tēnā koutou

Thank you to three or more people,  also means thank you in Māori. 

We hope you have enjoyed finding out a little more about your new country and our indigenous language, Te Reo Māori. If you are interested in learning the language we recommend a free online course provided by Te Kura, a government distance 
learning provider.

Te Kura offers free Māori Language courses Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu