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Glossary of Māori concepts

Please note that this glossary has been compiled so that it is especially of assistance in the application of these concepts and terms to geography.  This is not a definitive compilation of the full range of meanings that may apply to these concepts and terms.

Geography/Mātauranga matawhenua

love and empathy: an attitude and an important cultural value derived from a particular Māori view of the natural world and the place of Māori within it, and underpins Māori environmental management systems.

migration occurs to meet the needs of Māori at any one time and in response to outside forces.

a tribe that has particular geographical boundaries outlining the region in which they have mana whenua status.

to “care for” the environment; sustainable use, management and control of natural and physical resources that are carried out to the mutual benefit of people and resources.

incantations or prayers for a specific purpose, such as lifting the tapu off an area of land in order that it may be cultivated.

this concept is related to manaakitanga and the appropriate acknowledgement of sharing hospitality and/or information.  Koha may take the form of food, gifts or more recently money. 

Kōrero püräkau              
a legend or story that explains an event or activity.

Mana whenua                  
the right to use, manage and control land depends on the protection of mana whenua.  Mana whenua is based on Ahikä (Iwi maintaining residence in a particular place) and is an important part of tino rangatiratanga (self-determination).

derived from spirituality, land and ancestral linkages of a person, of people or a taonga and manifests itself as the respect, which is paid to that person, those people or that taonga as a result of the esteem accorded by others.  The practice of kaitiakitanga is carried out by Iwi and hapü, through exercising Iwi and hapü Mana, which is embodied in the concept of Tino Rangatiratanga.

this concept involves hospitality and how visitors are cared for.  Such hospitality is always acknowledged and reciprocated.

is a process of formally acknowledging people you meet, the purpose of the meeting, and the place (where the meeting is being held), through protocols set by the iwi.

is a resource either physical or cultural that can be found in the environment (including features within the environment e.g. lakes, mountains, rivers, also including people, te reo, whakapapa, etc.).

is the state of being sacred or special.  All taonga are tapu.  The tapu of taonga needs to be removed temporarily in some cases before people can make use of, or tend them.  Karakia are important for the removal of tapu and rendering the taonga noa (free of tapu, contactable or useable).

Tikanga Māori                 
the customs and traditions Māori live by and practise within the environment.

Tino Rangatiratanga     
includes the rights, responsibilities and obligations involving the use, management and control of the land and other resources.

Waiata tawhito               
a song or chant that has been passed down through generations within iwi. It may include information that explains events relating to the environment.

Māori settlement was chiefly governed by access to resources.

the geneaology of a taonga or person (ancestral and/or historical) with linkages to other taonga or persons.

Māori share a common whakapapa with other people/taonga and therefore a strong sense of responsibility and reciprocal obligations toward those people/taonga.  This forms an important part of a holistic world-view.  All taonga are interrelated, interconnected and interdependent.  The life force (mauri) of taonga must be protected.  The sustainable management of taonga is therefore paramount to our survival.

Last updated February 20, 2013