Te Wiki O Te Reo Māori - Māori Language Week

Te Wiki O Te Reo Māori – Māori Language Week runs each year to promote the use of Te Reo Māori throughout the Aotearoa New Zealand. We would like to introduce you to some of the Te Reo that we commonly use on our trips and explain the meanings behind some of them.

The Hauraki Gulf Marine Park (Tikapa Moana)

Hauraki Gulf Marine Park = Tikapa Moana (or Te Moana-nui-a-Toi)

In one Hauraki tradition, Tikapa Moana takes its name from Gannet Rock, northwest of Waiheke Island. Tikapa means ‘sound of mournful sobbing’ referring to the ebb and flow of the tide around this rock. It was here that early Maori performed rituals and ceremonies to claim the land when they first arrived in Aotearoa. Te-Moana-nui-a-Toi or ‘The great ocean of Toi’ refers to the early Polynesian explorer and navigator.”


Hauraki = ‘hau’ means ‘north’ and ‘raki’ means wind. This possibly refers to the fact that the Hauraki Gulf is surrounded by mainland to the East, South and West and largely exposed to the North.

Auckland = Tāmaki Makaurau (Tāmaki desired by many) 

Waitemata Harbour = Auckland’s harbour is also known as Waitemata Harbour for which there a couple of translations. Firstly, it is thought that the harbour is named after Boat Rock (Te matā) in the harbour off of Kauri Point. Some have acknowledged that you can translate it to “Obsidian waters” (obsidian being ‘matā’) which refers to the harbour waters being like ‘sparking glass’.

Motu = Island. and many of the islands in the Hauraki Gulf start with this in their name 

  • Motutapu = sacred island
  • Motuihe (Te Motu-I-Henga) = island of Ihenga (a Maori chief)
  • Motukorea = island of the oystercatcher (‘korea’ = oystercatcher)

Whangaparaoa = ‘whanga’ is bay and ‘paraoa’ is (sperm) whale, therefore, the translation is “bay of whales” 

Rangitoto (Nga Rangi i totongia a Tamatekapua) = ‘the day the blood of Tamatekapua was shed’. It refers to a bloody battle that took place there.

Animals (kararehe)

Marine animals = ika is the word for any animal that swims in salt or freshwater

Common dolphin = aihe

Bottlenose dolphin = terehu

Orca = maki, kākahi (kākahi is also the te reo for ‘freshwater mussel’) or kera wēra

Whale = tohorā is the generic name for a baleen whale and is also used specifically to describe southern right whales. Baleen is known as ‘hihi tohorā’. Sperm whales are known as ‘parāoa’ however historically ‘parāoa’ has also been taken to translate to ‘whales’.

Australasian gannet = tākapu 

Little blue penguin = kororā

New Zealand fur seal = kekeno which means ‘look-arounds’. This describes their ability to flex their neck to look around including behind them whilst facing forward. 

Want to know more?

For more information on Te Wiki O Te Reo Māori – Māori Language Week, head to www.reomaori.co.nz