Fun Māori phrases to use at home with your family


11 September to 17 September marks Māori Language Week 2017.  This year we commemorate 42 years of Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori (Māori Language Week) – what an amazing achievement!

Te Reo Māori is one of New Zealand’s three official languages (the other is New Zealand Sign Language) and Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori is a great opportunity to build your language skills and learn some fun Māori phrases to use at home with your family.

Pronunciation of Te Reo Māori

The Māori alphabet has fewer letters than the English alphabet. The letters in the Māori alphabet are:

The five vowels: a, e, i, o, u

The eight consonants: h, k, m, n, p, r, t, w

The two digraphs (two letters that combine to form one sound): wh, ng


The trick to pronouncing Māori is correct vowel pronunciation. Each vowel in Māori can be pronounced short or long and a macron is used to indicate a long vowel – ā, ē, ī, ō, ū. Here’s a guide to pronouncing theMāori vowels:

a – as in car
e – as in peck
i – as in fee, me, see
o – as in awe (not ‘oh!’)
u – as in boot

Fun Māori phrases to use at home with your family

Here are ten simple phrases you can use around the home.  Even if you put into practice one or two, you’ll be expanding your Te Reo vocabulary and that’s a great achievement.  Ka rawe!  (That’s excellent!)

There are also five fun phrases below to learn and impress those around you!

Toitū te reo! (Hold fast to the language!)

  1. Tino pai te rangi, nē rā? (Lovely day, isn’t it?)
  2. Haere mai ki konei (Come over here)
  3. Tēnā homai he kaputi (Please give me a cup of tea)
  4. I pēhea tāu kai?(What was your food like?)
  5. Kei te pēhea koe? (How are you?)
  6. Māku e āwhina (I will help)
  7. Kei te aroha au ki a koe (I love you!)
  8. He aha māu? (What would you like?)
  9. Mā mātou e horoi ngā rīhi (We’ll wash the dishes)
  10. Horoia ō ringaringa (Wash your hands).

 Here are a few phrases you can have a bit of fun with too!

  1. Next time you’re looking for your car, try: “Kei hea tōku waka?” (Where is my waka?)
  2. If your brother or sister does something alarming, say “Waea atu ki te Pirihimana!” (Call the police!)
  3. Creep up behind someone and say “Taukiri e!” (Surprise!)
  4. Try to get your parents to go to the supermarket – “Kua pau katoa ngā pihikete” (the biscuits are gone!)
  5. If someone’s stretching the truth a bit, say “He moemoeā!” (You’re dreaming!)

Develop your skills further in speaking Te Reo

If you think your pronunciation might benefit from listening to some words and phrases, here is Radio New Zealand’s collection of greetings with audio tracks.

Find some printable resources with pictures of everyday objects and their Maori words on this link.

Find out more about Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori (Māori Language Week)

The Kiwi Families Team

This information was compiled by the Kiwi Families team.

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