Maori Glossary P-W

Papatūānuku (puh-puh-too-ah-noo-koo)

The earth mother, often called Papa.

Pono (páw-naw)

Integrity, sincerity, truthfulness. To be faithful to what is tika or right.

Pounamu (páw-oo-nuh-moo)


Pure (póo-reh)

Cleansing rites for removing the tapu of people, places, and objects.

Rākaunui (ráh-kuh-oo-noo-ee)

The fifteenth day of the month.

Raki (r úh-kee)

The Ngai Tahu name for Rangi.

Ranginui (rúng-ee-noo-ee)

The Sky Father, often called Rangi.

Rarakiroa (rúh-ruh-kee-raw-uh)

Long Unbroken Line. A brother of Aoraki.

Rongomatāne (ráw-ngaw-muh-tah-neh)

The guardian spirit of all cultivated food, also known as Rongo.

Rangatira (rúh-nguh-tee-ruh)

Chief, leader, ruler.

Rangatiratanga (rúng-uh-tée-ruh-tung-uh)

Chiefly power and authority, sovereignty.

Rangimārie (rúng-ee-máh-ree-eh)


Rongo Pai (ráw-ngaw púh-ee)

The Gospel or Good News.

Rūnanga (róo-nuh-nguh)

Council, assembly.

Tamaiti (tuh-muh-i-tee)

The word for son.

Tamariki (túh-muh-rih-kee)


Tāne Mahuta (táh-neh múh-hoo-tuh)

The spirit and guardian of forests. The ancestor of human beings.

Tangaroa (t ú h-nguh-raw-uh)

The spirit of the sea and guardian of all things that live in water.

Tangata (túng-uh-tuh)

Person, people, human.

Tangata Whenua (túng-uh-tuh féh-noo-uh)

Indigenous people of the land, or their descendants. Local people, home people, people of a marae are usually spoken of as hunga kāinga, iwi kāinga or tangata kāinga, not tangata whenua.

Tangi (túh-ngee)

A word meaning ‘cry’ and in particular the wailing or keening for the dead expressed by Maori women. Very often it is used as an abbreviation for tangihanga, meaning the customary form of Maori funeral – a hui involving a process of grieving.

Taonga (túh-aw-nguh)

A treasure; something greatly valued. It may be something physical such as a carved heitiki, or it may be something intangible such as the language – te reo Maori.

Taonga Tapu (túh-aw-nguh túh-poo)

Sacred treasure.

Tapu (túh-poo)

This word is used in three senses:

  1. restrictions or prohibitions which safeguard the dignity and survival of people and things
  2. the value, dignity, or worth of someone or something, eg the holiness of God, human dignity, the value of the environment
  3. the intrinsic being or essence of someone or something, eg tapu i Te Atua is the intrinsic being of God, the divine nature.

Please note: when tapu refers to the Tapu of God it is written as Tapu.

Tautoko (túh-oo-taw-kaw)

To support.

Tāwhirimātea (táh-fíh-ree-máh-teh-uh)

The spirit of winds.

Te Ao Mārama (teh úh-aw máh-ruh-muh)

The world of light – this world, which God created out of darkness.

Te Ao Wairua (teh úh-aw wúh-i-roo-uh)

The spiritual world.

Te Aranga (teh úh-rung-uh)

The Resurrection.

Te Kore (teh káw-reh)

The Nothingness.

Te Kotahitanga o Te Hunga Tapu (teh kaw-túh-hee-tuh-nguh aw teh hóo-nguh túh-poo)

The Communion of Saints.

Tekoteko (téh-kaw-teh-kaw)

Carved figure usually on the gable of a meeting house.

Te Mana o Te Atua (teh múh-nuh aw teh úh-too-uh)

The power of God.

Te Mana o Te Tangata (teh múh-nuh aw teh túng-uh-tuh)

The power of the human person.

Te Miha (the mée-huh)

The Mass.

Te Paipera Tapu (teh púh-ih-peh-ruh túh-poo)

The Holy Bible.

Te Rangatiratanga (teh rúng-uh-tée-ruh-tung-uh)

The Kingdom or Reign of God.

Te Reo Maori (teh réh-aw muh-aw-ree)

The Maori language.

Te Rongo Pai (teh ráw-ngaw púh-ee)

The Gospel or Good News.

Te Tau Me Ona Ritenga Tapu (teh túh-oo meh aw-nuh ríh-teh-nguh túh-poo)

The Liturgical Year.

Te Tamaiti a Te Atua (teh tuh-muh-i-tee uh teh úh-too-uh)

The second person of the blessed Trinity.

Te Tapu o Te Atua (teh túh-poo aw teh úh-too-uh)

The holiness of God.

Te Tapu o Te Tangata (teh túh-poo aw teh túng-uh-tuh)

The sacredness of the human person.

Te Tiriti O Waitangi ( teh tée-ree-tee aw wúh-ee-tuh-ngee)

The Treaty of Waitangi.

Te Wā (teh wáh)

A period of time in which a series of events, affecting people and their lives, takes place, which enables people to reach goals, or moments of achievement.

Te Wairua Tapu (teh wúh-i-roo-uh túh-poo)

The Holy Spirit.

Te Waka A Aoraki

The canoe of Aoraki. The South Island of New Zealand.

Te Wehenga O Rangi Raua Ko Papa (teh wéh-heh-nguh aw rúng-ee rúh-oo-uh kaw púh-puh)

The separation of Rangi and Papa.

Tika (tíh-kuh)

Justice, what is right or should be done. Demands that tapu be acknowledged and respected.

Tikanga (tíh-kung-uh)

Custom or protocol; a particular way of doing things.

Tino Rangatiratanga (tée-naw rung-uh-tée-ruh-tung-uh)

Full chiefly power, absolute authority. This is one of the principles of  Kaupapa Maori.

Tūmatauenga (tóo-muh-tuh-oo-eh-nguh)

The spirit of war. Sometimes called Tū. While it is usually Tane who makes the first person from the soil, this role is occasionally assigned to Tū. This is apparently because he took the form of a human being

Tūpuna (toó-poo-nuh)

Grandparents, more immediate ancestors. The singular is tupuna. Some areas use the term tīpuna.

Turangawaewae (tóo-rung-uh-wuh-eh-wuh-eh)

The standing place from where one gains the authority to belong.

Urupā (oo-roo-páh)

A burial place or cemetery of the extended family.

Wai (w úh-ee)


Waiata (wúh-ee-uh-tuh)

Song or hymn.

Waka (w ú h-kuh)


Whakapapa (fúh-kuh-puh-puh)

Genealogy or family tree. For more details explore this site.

Whakapono (fúh-kuh-paw-naw)


Whānau (fáh-nuh-oo)

Extended Family.

Whare (fúh-reh)

A house or building.

Whare karakia (fúh-reh kúh-ruh-kee-uh)

Church building.

Whenua (féh-noo-uh)

Land. Afterbirth, placenta.

Whiro (fíh-raw)

The first day of the month.