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Māori Language

The Māori language or ‘te reo Maori”, is an official language of New Zealand and is a defining aspect of Māori culture. Before European arrival Māori did not have a written language, and all information as transmitted verbally. A poetic language evolved to transmit knowledge across generations.

English was promoted with the arrival of European settlers and using Māori language as at times actively discouraged. Many Māori started using English. Today, the survival and day-to-day use of the Māori Language faces challenges. However, determined efforts by many supporters of te reo Māori help to maintain and encourage the continued use of the language today.

Some Māori words and phrases appear in everyday use by all New Zealanders. The following glossary contains Māori words that you’re most likely to encounter during you travels. An effort to pronounce Māori words will almost certainly receive an appreciative response from Māori.

Māori Customs

If you participate in activities that include Māori custom and practice, it’s likely that you’ll be with a guide who will provide advice on what is happening and how to respond. There are some Māori customs below (tikanga Māori) that you will probably encounter on your visit to Rotorua.

Pōwhiri                                 a traditional Māori welcome ceremony

Hongi                                    a traditional form of Māori greeting, involving the pressing of the noses.

Karakia                                 prayer delivered before food is eaten and often when formal occasions begin and end.