Level Up Your Kōrero, Here’s How To Get Behind Māori Language Week

By Beau Johns
11th Sep 2023

Wooden Maori carving of Hinerangi, female ancestor guardian figure at Piha, New Zealand.

Māori Language Week—a whole week dedicated to celebrating te reo by incorporating more into our everyday lives. Although these seven days in Mahuru (September) are when we’re all encouraged to speak Māori—the buck doesn’t stop on Sunday. 

Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori was established in 1975 to uplift and celebrate speaking Māori—and last year we celebrated 50 years since the Government was petitioned to formally recognise the language. This year, we're all encouraged to have a Māori Language Moment on Thursday, 14 September at 12pm to kōrero (speak), waiata (sing), pānui (read) and more but whatever we do, to do it in te reo Māori.

As one of three official languages of Aotearoa and the tongue of our indigenous people, Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori is but one small way you can honour tangata whenua (honour the treaty), but we can be doing so much more. And no, your Waitangi Day BBQ does not count. 

So this week, and every week henceforth, we encourage you to go beyond learning how to order your coffee in Māori in exchange for a free brew at work and do something to create a lasting impact for yourself and te reo Māori.

Using the wonderful resource that is the Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori ~official~ website, we’ve pulled together some great ways you can support the kaupapa (you should also learn Māori myths and legends, karakia, waiata, colonisation and the Treaty of Waitangi once you’re done with this) as well as a few people, places and things which will help you along on your reo journey.

Check out the events section for things going on in your area—there’s also a whole bunch of webinars too. It's basically a great time to learn te reo Māori.

Kia kaha te reo Māori whānau.    

A graphic of Māori Language Week, which goes from September 14 Māori Language Week Resources 

Scotty Morrison’s Māori Made Easy Series

The presenter of current affairs shows Te Karere and Marae Scotty Morrison, has written a series of books that will guide you on your te reo journey, no matter what level you’re at. Māori Made Easy isn’t just a great title, the books are designed in such a way that you’ll only need to pick it up for 30 minutes a day, but the frequency in which you choose to learn is completely up to you.

Available in print, ebook or as an audiobook, there are also four extra workbooks up for grabs to take your te reo to the next level. 

Mahuru Māori

No matter if you’re new to te reo, a seasoned or fluent Māori speaker, Mahuru Māori is a great way to commit to using te reo Māori throughout the month of Mahuru. Obviously, we’re well through September, but there is no time like the present to get on board the waka.

The challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to commit to speaking/writing/singing as much Māori as possible this month, whether it be for an hour a day, one day a week, in your sleep—whichever frequency is doable for you.

Check out the website to register and get your hands on a load of great resources and downloads which will help you on your way.

Māori Dictionary App

Whilst you might not have your Raupo Dictionary of Modern Māori on your person at all times, you need not fear. The Māori Dictionary app (also known as Te Aka Māori Dictionary) is available to purchase on your Apple or Android device, or available online for free and fulfils all the functions you would expect of a dictionary. If you don’t have access to a device or are out of storage, there are plenty of pocket-size (or full-sized) paper dictionaries just waiting to be purchased. Fill your boots.

The Kupu App

We live in the age of AI, so if you’re at a loss for the English word of an object, please remain calm and download the Kupu app. Made by Spark and the Te Aka Māori Dictionary, it uses artificial intelligence and your phone camera to detect objects and give you its Māori translation. Take that, Alexa! 

Tuhi Stationary

Diaries, calendars, wall planners. Ah, the joys and wonders of stationery. But do you know what would make it even better? If it supported your learning and vitalisation of te reo! Enter, Tuhi Stationary.

As well as the aforementioned products for purchase, there are a bunch of free digital resources created by wāhine Māori Geneva Harrison (Ngāti Kahu, Te Rarawa, Te Aupouri) and Mihi Tibble (Te Whānau ā Apanui, Ngāti Porou, Te Arawa, Ngāti Awa), so you’re not only supporting the kaupapa, but you’re also supporting a Māori business. How about that? 

Toro Mai

Created by Stacey and Scotty Morrison in conjunction with Massey University, Toro Mai is an excellent, interactive and FREE online resource to teach you te reo and tikanga Māori. With multiple tools and methods to make learning even more fun, it’s designed for anyone to jump on board and begin learning the language. You’ll be speaking Māori in no time.

Te Taurawhiti—Māori Language Commission

Besides the Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori website, The Māori Language Commission expands on helpful resources, with some exciting ways for you to learn. 

Māori Pronunciation 

A pronunciation guide to the Māori Language, with references to vowel sounds, constants and macronsEvery time you pronounce a kupu Māori correctly, a patupaiarehe gets its wings (note, patupaiarehe do not resemble Pākeha interpretations of fairies—the wings reference is purely whimsical). Whilst it might be difficult to unlearn incorrect pronunciations (cc: Taieri Plains lady) if you’ve taken a language in high school, then this should be a piece of cake. 

With many resources just a quick Google search away (such as this one from The Māori Language Commission with audio tips), the best thing you can do to perfect your pronunciation is to practice. Don't forget to roll your R's, and if you see a line above a vowel (a macron or pōtae), it means that the vowel has a long sound. Try it out in conversation, and if you’re struggling with a tongue-twister—keep at it or reach out to a reo speaker. You’ve got this.

The apps mentioned above also have audio recordings of every word to get your reo polished and sparkling. Wash, rinse and repeat. Alternatively, Stuff has a great series with video clips to help you nail your pronunciation.

Ways To Incorporate Te Reo Into Your Everyday 

a comprehensive how to guide on ordering your coffee in te reo MāoriOrder Your Coffee in Māori

First things first—kawhe. Some might find this a challenge before your daily brew, but once you’ve soldiered through, we’re certain you can tackle anything the day throws at you. 

Speaking of, he mōwai māku—e rua nga hōta koa.


You’re there for 40 hours a week, you might as well make the most of it. Why not spice up your regular email phrases (snooze), meetings (yikes) or things to do in your workplace with some kupu Māori?

For example, if you work at a pencil shop, you could refer to your product as a ‘pene rākau’, or if you make your pūtea on a dairy farm, a cow is ‘kau’ and milk is ‘mīraka’.

Good morning — Ata mārie, mōrena

Hello — Kia ora, tēnā koe (singular), tēnā kōrua (plural), tēnā koutou (three or more), tēnā koutou katoa (everyone) tēnā tatou katoa (everyone including yourself)

Apologies, sorry — Aroha mai

By [write your name here] — Nā [tuhi tō ingoa]

Kind regards — Ngā mihi

Thank you very much — Ngā mihi nui

Yours sincerely — Nāku noa

Have a good day — Kia pai to rā

Bye for now — Mā te wā

As per my last email — Kei tāku īmēra i mua

For more formal email remarks, check out this handy doc from the Library and Information Association of NZ, and for saltier responses, check out this article from The Spinoff

Ngā Kupu Hou O Urban List

To celebrate Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori, we took a look at the things we write about and thought, here’s a great idea—let’s whakamāori some words to do with our content, that’d be great. And it is. Goodbye, English verticals, hello ngā kupu hou o Urban List.

Things To Do

Porotēhi — Protest, speak out against, demonstrate

Hīkoi — To march, step, stride, trek, tramp

Haerenga — Journey, trip, parting

Ako — Learn

Food & Drink

Wāhi Kai — Cafe, restaurant

Kawhe — Coffee

Kai — Food, to eat

Inu — Drink, to drink

Parāoa — Paraoa

Huarākau — Fruit

Huawhenua — Vegetable

Waipiro — Alcohol

Wāina — Wine

Pia — Beer


Kākahu — To put on clothes, dress, clothing, cloak, apparel, costume

Mau — Put on, wear

Pōtae — Hat, cap, beret, beanie, covering for the head

Poraka — Jersey, cardigan, jumper, sweater, sweatshirt

Hākete — Jacket

Tīhate — T-shirt

Tarau — Pants

Tarau poto — Shorts

Toroiho — Drawers, underwear

Tōkena — Socks

Hū — Shoes

Health & Wellness

Tākuta — Doctor

Hauora — Health

Oranga — Wellbeing 

Māuiui — Sick, illness

Rōngoa — Medicine, remedy, drug, cure, treatment, solution (to a problem), tonic

Career & Money

Putea — Money

Hēneti — Cents

Umanga — Career

Mahi — To work, job, employment, trade, occupation, do, perform, make, accomplish, 


Television — Pouaka Whakaata

Pikitia — Picture, film, painting

Kaiwhakaari — Actor, performer

Tiata — Theatre, show

Puoro — To sing, song, music, musical instrument

Whakarongo — Listen, hear


Waka, mōtoka — Car, motor car

Motopaika — Motorbike, motorcycle

Bus — Pahi

Plane — Waka rererangi

Atua Whiowhio — Railway train, steam engine, locomotive

Bike — Paika

Hoiho — Horse


Kaitiaki — Guardian, protector

Rākau — Tree, stick, timber, wood

Papatūānuku — Earth Mother

Ranginui — Sky Father

Wao, ngāhere — Forest

Ao — World, Earth

Taiao — Environment

So there you have it, a journey begins with a single step, so get out there and start marching.

Image credit: Meg Jerrard, Te Taura Whiri—Māori Language Commission, Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori.

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