Māori language (te reo)

Where can I find information about te reo Māori (the Māori language)?

Image: Kapa Haka by Tony on Flickr.

Entry last updated: 18/06/20


Te reo Māori is the native language of Aotearoa New Zealand. It is very important to Māori culture and identity, and forms a part of New Zealand's culture and heritage. This entry will show you where to find information about the history of te reo Māori, as well as resources to help you develop your te reo skills.

History of te reo

The history of te reo Māori has been one of ups and downs. In the early 1800s te reo Māori was the sole spoken language in New Zealand. As more English speakers arrived, English became the predominant language spoken in New Zealand. By the mid 1900s there were concerns that the language was dying out which resulted in major initiatives being launched to try and revive the language. More information about the history of te reo Māori can be found on the following websites.

Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Te Ara is an excellent starting point for all questions about Aotearoa New Zealand.

  • Enter 'te reo' into the search bar at the top of the page.
  • The search results will bring up a number of articles related to te reo Māori.
  • Select the article called Te reo Māori - the Māori language.

This site also contains images and videos to do with te reo Māori in New Zealand, such as news footage of the Te reo Māori petition, 1972 asking for te reo to be taught in schools, being presented to parliament.

  • Try the keywords 'te reo' into the search bar at the top of the page.
  • Go to the 'images & media' table on the left hand side of the page.
Tips: Search words, or keywords, are the most important words in our question. Usually it’s better to leave out small words like ‘the’, ‘a’ and ‘of’ and just choose the main ones, eg te reo. We can always change our keywords or add more if we need to.

Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori

This is the Māori Language Commission website. The Māori Language Commission was set up under the Māori Language Act 1987 to promote to use of Māori in New Zealand. This site has useful information and resources about te reo Māori, including a timeline showing the history of te reo Māori.

There are two ways to search this site.

  1. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click on History & timeline under About Us.
  2. Type the keywords 'history & timeline into the search bar at the top of the page.

Topic Explorer

Topic Explorer is an online tool from the National Library of New Zealand. It has a wide range of quality resources for students in a range of formats (like articles, books, images, videos, primary sources, websites) on a variety of topics including Te Reo Māori. These resources have been selected from reliable national and international sources.

There are two ways to search this site:

  • Scroll through the topics on the homepage and click on Te Reo Māori.
  • Enter the keywords 'Te Reo Māori' into the search bar at the top of the page.
Tips: We like sites like this because they’re reliable. You can tell because of their web address – they have either .govt or .ac, meaning they are from government or educational organisations. They’re also New Zealand sites, so relevant for us.

Reviving te reo

In 1971, researcher Dr Richard Benton made a presentation at a Māori Language Day event called 'He waka pakaru kino'. In this address he stated his belief that the Māori language was dying. This address helped to spur the resurgence of te reo Māori. Since then, a number initiatives have been implemented to encourage more people to speak te reo, such as Māori Language Week.


This is another great website for information about Aotearoa New Zealand. If we go all the way down the page we can see that the website belongs to the Ministry for Culture & Heritage, so the information is well-researched and reliable.

  1. Go to Politics and government.
  2. Under Treaty of Waitangi, select Māori Language Week.
Tips: This site also contains useful information about other topics covered in this entry such as History of te reo Māori and learning te reo.


Today, Māori is spoken fluently by over 130,000 people. The StatsNZ website, which provides data specific to New Zealand on a number of topics, has statistics about the use of te reo in New Zealand.

In response to fears that te reo was dying out as an everyday language, Māori language education initiatives were also created, such as Te Kōhanga Reo, Kura Kaupapa Māori and Te Ataarangi.

The Ministry of Education website gives information about Māori-medium education. You may also like to look at Education Counts which has statistical information about Māori Language in Education.

Tips: A website’s address (URL) can give you a hint about how reliable it is. Look for addresses in the results that include .gov or .edu in the URL. These are quality sites from overseas government or educational organisations.

Learning the language

In 1987, the Māori Language Act was passed by the Parliament of New Zealand and te reo Māori was made an official language of New Zealand. There are a number of websites that have been created to help people learn te reo.


This site teaches the Māori alphabet, pronunciation of Māori words, Māori words and phrases and includes video movie lessons which allow you to learn the basics of te reo.

They also have a YouTube page set up for waiata (song) and karakia (prayer) which you may find useful.

Tips: Websites that have .org or .net in the address can have good information, but you need to assess how reliable it is. Check the About us link on the website, if you can find one. That can tell you what the organisation’s mission and values are.

Māori Television

Māori Television is New Zealand's indigenous broadcaster. They provide a range of local and international programmes on television and online.

Under the TV tab at the top of the page you can:

  • select the Schedule tab to find out which programmes are showing and when
  • go to the Shows tab to watch shows on-demand
  • try the Language Learning tab to see programmes that have been made especially made to help you learn te reo.

Te Whanake Māori Language Online

This site includes animations, podcasts, streamed television programmes and online activities to help you develop your te reo Māori skills.

Tips: This a dual language website which means you can choose whether you want to view the content in English or in Māori.

You may also find the Learn Te Reo Māori section of the Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori website useful. It has information about tikanga Māori, pronunciation and resources to help you learn te reo Māori.


There are also some great Māori dictionaries available online to help you with your te reo skills.

Māori Dictionary

This is a bilingual dictionary that includes language entries, idioms and explanations about grammar.

Learning Media Ngata Dictionary

This online dictionary illustrates the use of Māori and English words in sentences and phrases. It explains how words should be used as well as their meaning.


There are many books that have been written in te reo for you to enjoy, such as:

Remember to check out your local public or school library to see what they have!

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