Te Reo Māori is the indigenous language of New Zealand, making up one of three of the nation’s official languages, next to English and Sign Language. While English is the country’s main language, Te Reo is central to Māori culture and identity.  

Whether you’re a visitor or a born and bred kiwi, a few ways you can support Te Reo is by learning how to pronounce Māori words correctly, along with mastering a few simple words and phrases. Try dropping some of these into conversation and you’ll be greeted like a local in no time! 


While some Māori words can look like impossible tongue twisters, once you’ve gotten the hang of Māori pronunciation, you’ll be saying place names like Rotorua, Aotearoa and Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland) with confidence! 

The Māori alphabet consists of five vowel sounds. They can be pronounced ‘short’ or ‘long’. The long vowel is marked with a macron above it, e.g. ā

  • a (‘a’ as in ‘far’ or ‘car’) 
  • e (‘e’ as in ‘there’ or ‘egg’) 
  • i (‘i’ as in ‘see’ or ‘me’) 
  • o (‘o’ as in ‘or’ or ‘awe’) 
  • u (‘u’ as in ‘two’ or ‘sue’) 

There are eight consonants in Māori – h, k, m, n, p, r, t, and w.  

  • ng (as in ‘winger’ or ‘sing’) 
  • wh (as in the English ‘f’)  

Greetings and Goodbyes 

Skytower with Hei Tiki
The Hei Tiki on Auckland’s Skytower during Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori Language Week.
Photo by @reomaori on Instagram.
  • Kia ora – Hello or thank you 
  • Mōrena or Ata mārie – Good morning! 
  • Pomārie – Good night 
  • Tēnā koe – Formal greeting to one person 
  • Tēnā koutou – Formal greeting to many people 
  • Haere mai – Welcome! Come! 
  • Haere ra – Farewell 
  • Ka kite ano – Until I see you again 
  • Ngā Mihi – Kind regards or thank you 

Useful words 

  • Ae – Yes 
  • Kāo – No   
  • Whānau – Family 
  • Pākehā – European New Zealander of non-Māori descent 
  • Mahi – Job, work 
  • Kia kaha – Be strong 
  • Aroha – Love, compassion 
  • Hangi – Traditional feast prepared in the earth 
  • Kai – Food 
Marae at Te Puia, Rotorua
Kapa haka performed in a marae at Te Puia, Rotorua
  • Kapa Haka – Traditional Māori performing arts (pictured above) 
  • Kōrero – Talk 
  • Maunga – Mountain 
  • Whenua – Land, homeland 
  • Moana – Sea 
  • Puku – Stomach  

Basic Phrases 

  • Kei te pēhea koe? – How’s it going? 
  • Kei te pai – Good  
  • Ko wai tou ingoa? – What is your name? 
  • Ko [name] ahau – My name is [name]
  • He (kawhe) koa – Can I have a (coffee) please? 
  • Mōwai – Flat White 
  • Kaputī – Cup of Tea 
  • Kei hea te wharepaku? – Where’s the toilet? 
  • Ka mau te wehi! – That’s amazing! 

Ready to put your learnings into practice? Visit New Zealand on a 2021 or 2022 Globus or Cosmos tour

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