Celebrating Te Reo Māori & Wāina from New Zealand

The New Zealand Winegrowers would love us all to know more about New Zealand, their Māori culture, and their wines. Below is one of the articles by the New Zealand Winegrowers about the Māori language and some of their wines.  I will continue to post articles by the New Zealand Winegrowers so that we all can learn more about this fascinating country, their cultural history and their wines.  Enjoy!


Kia ora –  salut!  cin cin!  kanpai! yamas! There are plenty of ways to say ‘cheers’ and toast friends with a glass of wine, but can you take the conversation further in a foreign language?

A marae (meeting grounds) - the focal point of Māori communities throughout New Zealand
A marae (meeting grounds) – the focal point of Māori communities throughout New Zealand

Not many of us can get past an initial greeting, but taking the time to exchange a few words with locals in their native language, always goes down a treat. New Zealand, like many countries, has a beautiful indigenous language – Te Reo Māori – which is considered a national taonga (treasure) and is thankfully experiencing a revival. As you travel around New Zealand you’ll notice place names, signs, key terms and phrases increasingly used in everyday life.

Initiatives such as Māori Language Week (14 – 20 September 2020), Māori language schools (from pre-school through to high school) and a Māori language television station are all playing a role in making sure Te Reo remains a living language throughout New Zealand.

The New Zealand Wine Industry is also embracing the revival with increased use of Māori terms and meanings on labels and in marketing and promotion. And many winegrowers are making a deeper connection with Māori culture and values by recognising the significance of their land, the history and relationship with the people. 

Manaakitanga, (ma-naa-key-tung-a) which is loosely translated as hospitality, is one of the core values of the Māori culture and has particular significance to the wine industry since it’s all about bringing people together to eat, drink and interact with each other.

Māori are generous hosts and they love nothing more than feeding and nurturing people to ensure  guests experience a warm, friendly welcome. Manaakitanga also includes care and respect for  the natural environment and is practised by the majority of wineries throughout New Zealand, as is kaitiakitanga (kye-tea-ar-key-tung-a), another core value of Māori culture relating to guardianship of the land to protect it for future generations. Kaitiakitanga is a belief that natures resources belong to the earth, and people are welcome to use these resources, as long as they do so respectfully.

If you’re a New Zealander or visitor to this country you can help support Te Reo Māori by making an effort to get pronunciation right and using simple words and phrases in everyday conversation.

Here’s some commonly used words and phrases:

Kia ora – can be used to say hello, express gratitude, send love and make a connection

Haere mai – Welcome! Enter! 

Mārena – Good morning!

Manuhiri – Guests, visitors 

Haka – chant with dance for the purpose of challenge

Aroha – compassion, tenderness, sustaining love

Mana – Authority, power; secondary meaning: reputation, influence

Tārangawaewae – A place to stand, a place to belong to, a seat or location of identity

Haere rā – Goodbye 

Whakapapa  family and heritage

Whanau – family

Terms associated with the wine industry:

bottle of wine –   pounamu wāina

sparkling wine –  wāina pango

glass of wine –   karaihe wāina

wine tasting –     te tihi wāina

wine bottle –      wāina waina

white wine –       wāina ma

wine list –           wāina waina

red wine –           wāina whero

Many places in NZ have Maori names that evoke elements of the natural environment, some including;

Mānia – Plain, stretch of land

Moana – Sea or large lake

Motu – Island

Wai – Water

Many NZ wine-producing areas are near rivers and bodies of water, so you will find the Maori word ‘wai’ included in many place names like Wairapara (‘Waterfall’), Waipara (‘Muddy Water’) and Waiheke Island (‘the descending waters’)– all prominent winegrowing regions of Aotearoa New Zealand.

Tuku Māori Winemakers Collective

Tuku is the world’s first Maori winemakers collective, bringing together a group of award-winning Māori wine companies including Kuru Kuru, Steve Bird, te Pā and Tiki Wines who have come together to strengthen indigenous winemaking. They share ideas and market resources but also values of land, family and hospitality.

The name Tuku comes from the Māori art of Tukutuku weavings, which are decorative wall panels.

Author: mywinepal
Drink Good Wine. That is my motto and I really want to help you drink good wine. What is good wine? That can be a different thing for each people. Food also loves wine so I also cover food and wine pairings, restaurant reviews, and world travel. Enjoy life with me. MyWinePal was started by Karl Kliparchuk, WSET. I spent many years with the South World Wine Society as the President and then cellar master. I love to travel around the world, visiting wine regions and sharing my passion for food & wine with you. Come live vicariously through me, and enjoy all my recommended wines.