Te Reo Māori (the Maori language) is an important part of New Zealand culture. Not only is it one of the country’s official languages, but Kiwis are known to use the odd Maori word in the conversation. As a result, it is highly recommended that you learn a few key phrases before traveling. Here are ten Maori phrases you’re likely to hear during your stay.
Kia Ora (Hello, informal) – Maori Phrases
This phrase will be used to greet both Maori and Pkeha (New Zealand Europeans). It’s a versatile phrase that can be used to address people from all walks of life in a variety of ways. You’ll hear it used to say hello, good morning/afternoon/evening, and, depending on intonation, to express thanks or agreement.
Haere Ra (Goodbye)
This is another one you’ll see written on signs and spoken in general. When someone else is leaving, such as a person heading home for the evening, this is how you say goodbye. On the other end of the spectrum, if you’re the one leaving, you’d say ‘Haere Ra’ to say goodbye.
Haere Mai (Welcome)
This is a good phrase to remember. This one will greet you as you enter a new city, as well as in public buildings such as libraries and museums, among other places throughout New Zealand. You may also hear the phrase ‘nau mai’ on occasion; both essentially mean the same thing.
Tēnā Koutou (Hello, to more than one person)
In Maori Dictionary, there are several ways to greet someone. You’ll come across this form of greeting if you’re standing in a crowd, whether on a guided tour or somewhere else. More rarely, you might hear someone say ‘tēnā kōrua’ – that’s the form to use when addressing only two people.
Ko…ahau (My name is…) – Maori Phrases
While we’re on the subject of basic phrases, we should mention this one. Whenever someone inquires, “Ko wai tōu ingoa?” (‘what is your name?’), simply fill in the blank above to respond to the question.
Kia kaha (Be strong)
This can be used to both cheer someone on and to show moral support. If a Kiwi mentions they’re going through a difficult time, you might hear someone say ‘kia kaha.’
Ka Kite Ano (See you tomorrow)
Although this is generally considered incorrect usage, local TV presenters and newscasters frequently say ‘ka kite ano’ when saying goodbye to their viewers. It may come up in daily conversations with Kiwis as well, so keep it in mind for future reference.
Kei te pēhea koe? (How are you?)
Knowing a few basic Maori sayings like this will help you embrace and learn about Maori culture and heritage. When someone asks ‘kei te phea koe,’ you can respond with ‘kei te pai’ (fine/good) or ‘tino pai’ (really good).
Tu meke ( Too much ) – Maori Phrases
This phrase in Maori Dictionary is “too much,” is used to express gratitude or to express surprise. This one isn’t in the Maori Dictionary, but many Kiwis use it daily. Tu meke, which is interchangeable with its English equivalent “too much,” is used to express gratitude, appreciation, and awe.
Aotearoa ( New Zealand )
This is New Zealand’s Maori name, and the most common translation is “land of the long white cloud.” This refers to the clouds that hung over our islands and assisted Polynesian explorers in finding our shores.