Learn and Explore the Richness of M?ori Phrases

A Beginner’s Guide to Māori Phrases for Parents

Embrace the Beauty of Te Reo: An Introductory Guide to Māori Phrases for Parents

Hello, whānau! Are you interested in infusing your daily conversations with the rich tapestry of Aotearoa’s indigenous culture? Learning Māori phrases with your kids is not just educational, it’s a beautiful way to pay homage to the cultural heritage of New Zealand. And don’t worry, whether you’re a complete beginner or looking to brush up on your te reo (the Māori language), we’ve got you sorted!

In this handy guide, we’ll walk through some basic yet pivotal Māori phrases that you and your tamariki (children) can start using today. Not only will this expand your family’s vocabulary, but you’ll also foster a deeper connection with the Māori culture and instill a sense of respect and appreciation for its significance in modern Kiwi life.

Why Learning Māori Phrases is Beneficial for Your Family

Before we dive into the waiata (songs) of te reo, let’s unpack why learning these phrases is so valuable. Firstly, te reo Māori is one of the official languages of New Zealand, and it’s experiencing a wonderful resurgence. By introducing your children to these phrases, you’re giving them the gift of language diversity and inclusivity.

Moreover, as a parent, nurturing bilingualism can enhance cognitive abilities in your children, paving the way for better problem-solving skills and creative thinking. Plus, what’s cooler than being able to kōrero (talk) in another language?

Getting Started with Māori Greetings

One of the best places to start is with the basics of daily greetings. These are phrases you can incorporate with ease from the moment you step out the door to the time you tuck your little ones into bed. Let’s get started!

  • Kia ora – Hello! This is the Swiss Army knife of Māori greetings, suitable for all occasions, and probably the most well-known Māori phrase.
  • TÄ?nā koe (to one person) / TÄ?nā kōrua (to two people) / TÄ?nā koutou (to three or more people) – Formal greetings thatare more personalized than kia ora, recognizing the presence of the person or people you’re greeting.

Practice these greetings with your kids when you say hello to neighbours, friends, and even cuddly pets! It’s a fun and easy way to normalize the use of Māori phrases in everyday life.

Farewell Phrases to Enrich Partings

Just as important as hellos are the goodbyes. Here are a couple of Māori phrases that encapsulate that heartwarming sentiment of farewell:

  • Haere rā – Farewell to someone leaving. Wave off your kids to school with a cheerful “Haere rā!” and watch them embark on their daily adventure with a smile.
  • E noho rā – Farewell to someone staying. When you’re the one leaving the house, or if your children are off to bed, this is the phrase to bestow upon them.

Integrating these sign-offs into your departure routines can add a sprinkle of te reo to even the most bittersweet farewells.

Basic Courtesies in Te Reo

Nobody is too young or too old to be polite! Manners are essential, and what better way to express gratitude and courtesy than with these māori phrases?

  • TÄ?karo mai! – Come and play! Perfect when your kids are making new friends at the playground.
  • Ka kite anō – See you later! A friendly send-off that promises another meeting.

Remember, repetition is key to learning a new language. Encourage your little ones to use these expressions regularly, and before you know it, they’ll have a kete (basket) full of Māori phrases ready for use!


By introducing these simple yet essential Māori phrases into your family’s everyday life, you’ll pave the way for a more inclusive, bilingual home environment. Embracing te reo Māori is more than just learning a language; it’s about acknowledging and celebrating an integral part of New Zealand’s identity and heritage.

Follow us as we continue to explore more phrases, cultural tidbits, and fun ways to keep te reo alive in your household in subsequent sections of this guide—because every new word is a new opportunity to connect and grow together.

Stay tuned and embrace the vibrant culture of Aotearoa by all means—kia kaha (be strong) in your journey of language discovery with your tamariki. And remember, every phrase you learn is a step towards keeping this beautiful language thriving for generations to come!

māori phrases

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Five Things Parents Should Know When Preparing to Teach M?ori Phrases

As you embark on this cultural journey with your family, there are a few important things to keep in mind:

1. Pronunciation is Key

Te reo M?ori has a unique set of sounds that can be quite different from English. Paying close attention to pronunciation will ensure that you and your children can speak the language correctly and respectfully. For instance, the ‘wh’ sound is similar to an English ‘f’, and vowels are pronounced more like Spanish or Italian – ‘a’ as in ‘car’, ‘e’ as in ‘egg’, ‘i’ as ‘ee’ in ‘see’, ‘o’ as in ‘or’, and ‘u’ as ‘oo’ in ‘soon’. There are great online resources and apps that can help with pronunciation.

2. Start with What Interests Your Child

Introduce phrases and words through subjects and activities that already catch your child’s interest. If they love animals, learn animal names in te reo together. If it’s storytime, find books that incorporate both English and te reo M?ori. This will make the learning process more enjoyable and meaningful.

3. The Importance of Repetition

Like with any language, repetition is the key to learning. Consistently use the phrases you’ve learned in daily life. Encourage your children by repeating words and phrases and using them in context. For example, always say “Kia ora” when greeting each other to reinforce this habit.

4. Cultural Context Matters

Understanding the cultural significance behind the words enhances the learning experience. In M?ori culture, language is deeply connected to the land and the people’s history. Sharing the stories and origins of certain words or phrases can spark interest and respect for the language.

5. Be Patient and Keep It Fun

Understanding that mastery takes time is important for both you and your children. Celebrate the small wins and don’t be afraid to make mistakes; it’s all part of the learning process. Include games, songs, and interactive activities to keep te reo M?ori engaging and captivating for your tamariki.

As you incorporate these tips into your family’s te reo M?ori journey, remember that learning a new language is not just about speaking it, but also about connecting with its roots and embracing a broader worldview. Your efforts will not only benefit your immediate family but will also contribute to preserving the M?ori language for future generations.

Keep exploring and sharing te reo M?ori with joy and enthusiasm. Ahakoa he iti, he pounamu. Although it is small, it is precious!

See more great Things to Do with Kids in New Zealand here. For more information see here

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