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Kōrero Māori: 10 phrases for your whānau

Te Wiki o Te Reo Maori

Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori (Māori Language Week) has been recognised in Aotearoa since 1975. It’s an official week on our national calendar to honour, celebrate and promote te reo Māori. It’s also a great encouragement to us all to use more te reo Māori in our everyday lives, starting at home with our whānau!

This year, 2023, the Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori runs from 11th September - 17th September, and in the midst of that, a Māori Language Moment is planned. At 12pm on Thursday 14th September, people are encouraged to pause, and do something to acknowledge te reo Māori - speak, read, sing, listen. A te reo Māori moment nationwide - sounds special!

Each year, Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori falls within Mahuru Māori – a month-long reo challenge which lines up with Maramataka, the Māori calendar. This year, Mahuru Māori begins on Friday 15th September – which means now is the perfect time to take up the wero (challenge) with your whānau!

Te reo i te kāinga (Māori language at home)

If we’re honest, learning and using a different language can be a bit intimidating - and reclaiming a language can come with even deeper feelings and challenges. It’s normal to feel self-conscious and hesitant, especially when we’re worried about making a mistake or not being 'good' enough. Home is therefore a safe place to start. And for our kids, encouraging te reo Māori is part of their kindergarten and school curriculums – so they’ll probably be able to help us out!

Having a go at speaking te reo Māori at home says a lot more than what a handful of vocab allows us to communicate. Engaging with te reo Māori, even at a basic level, communicates respect for a beautiful taonga and honours a vital aspect of who we are as a nation.

Keen to kōrero?

There are loads of great te reo Māori resources available, we’ll list some of our favourites below. And to get you and your whānau started, here are ten phrases to use at your place:

  1. Kei te pēhea koe? – How are you?
  2. Kei te pai ahau – I’m fine
  3. Haere mai ki te kai – Come and eat
  4. E noho – Sit down
  5. Ka pai tō mahi – You’re doing well/great work
  6. He aha te mate? – What’s wrong?
  7. Kōrero mai anō – Please repeat that
  8. Mō taku hē – I’m sorry
  9. Karawhiua! – Give it a go! Give it heaps!
  10. Aroha ahau ki a koe – I love you

It’s all about whānau

Here are some more handy kupu (words) to use when addressing your loved ones:

Whaea – Mother

Matua – Father

Tamaiti – Child

Tama – Son

Tamāhine – Daughter

Kuia – Grandmother

Koroua – Grandfather

Mokopuna – Grandchild

Tāne – Man

Wahine – Woman

Pēpi– Baby

Ka rawe to kōrero Māori (Speaking Māori is awesome!)

  • Help yourself to the kete of resources from reomaori.co.nz, including a free downloadable book, Kōrero Māori: Give it a Go.
  • Search for a word, phrase or definition on the free online Māori Dictionary.
  • Check out Hemi Kelly’s Everyday Māori on Instagram or Facebook.
  • Follow Tākai Village on Instagram for easy reference every day words and phrases for your family.
  • Whakarongo – listen to waiata for whānau, and if the mood takes you, kanikani!
Ellie Gwilliam

Ellie Gwilliam

Ellie Gwilliam is a passionate communicator, especially on topics relating to families. After 20 years in Auckland working mainly in publishing, Ellie now lives in Northland, with her husband and their three daughters, where she works from home as content editor for Parenting Place. Ellie writes with hope and humour, inspired by the goal of encouraging parents everywhere in the vital work they are doing raising our precious tamariki.

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