First PagePrevious PageBack to overviewNext PageLast Page

Maori Place Names - What do they mean?

When we first arrived in New Zealand, we struggled to remember (and pronounce) all the Maori place names. There are so many that start with W, T, P or Ng. But as you travel around, you begin to notice a pattern to the place names. The majority actually mean something, so it's a good idea to learn a few words of Maori.

This might help you translate a few of them along the way…

Maori Words

  • ao = cloud
  • heke = ebbing or cascading
  • kanae = grey mullet (fish)
  • kato = flowing
  • Kohi = to gather up
  • marama = scraps or chips
  • moe = sleepy
  • nui = big
  • papa = flat
  • paua = a type of shellfish, known as Abalone elsewhere
  • pouri = dark
  • puke = hill
  • raki = sky
  • rei = cherished possession
  • roa = long
  • roto = lake
  • rua = two
  • tai = sea or tide
  • tea = white
  • tini = many
  • toetoe = a native pampas grass
  • ura = red
  • wai = water
  • whanga = harbour

Maori Place Names & their translation

  • Akaroa - Long Harbour
  • Aoraki - 'cloud sky', or 'cloud piercer'. The Maori name for Mount Cook.
  • Aotearoa - 'cloud white long', or 'land of the long white cloud. The Maori name for New Zealand.
  • Aramoana - pathway to (or beside) the sea
  • Hauraki - North Wind
  • Hawera - The Burning Place
  • Kapiti - Joining (or Boundary) Place
  • Kohimarama - to gather up the scraps or chips
  • Matapouri - either Black Duck, or gloom, murky, somber
  • Maungati - Mountain of cabbage tree
  • Moeraki - sleepy sky
  • Paerau - hundred ridges
  • Pauanui - Big Paua
  • Papatoetoe - flat pampas grass
  • Piopiotahi - first native thrush. The Maori name for Milford Sound.
  • Porirua - the two rising tides
  • Pukerua Bay - puke: hill, rua: two - location is on a saddle between two hills
  • Otematata - place of good flint
  • Rakiura - raki: sky, ura: red - thought to be a reference to the Aurora Australis and unusual sunsets at these latitudes
  • Raumati - summer
  • Te Anau - the cave of swirling water
  • Tairua - Two Tides
  • Tiniroto - Many Lakes
  • Waiheke - cascading or ebbing water
  • Waikanae - the waters of the grey mullet
  • Waikato - flowing water
  • Wainuiomata - big river/water of Mata.
  • Waipori - dark water
  • Whangarei - Harbour cherished possession

100 words in Maori every New zealander should know

living_in_new_zealand/maori_place_name_meanings.txt · Last modified: 2011/04/27 22:59 by art
CC Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported
www.chimeric.de Valid CSS Driven by DokuWiki do yourself a favour and use a real browser - get firefox!! Recent changes RSS feed Valid XHTML 1.0