UC Te Reo Māori Style Guide

Kupu Whakataki | Introduction

These guidelines are to ensure the use of te reo Māori across all UC publications, social media and marketing is accurate and consistent.

At Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha | University of Canterbury (UC) we typically follow Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori Guidelines for Māori Orthography: Ngā Tikanga Tuhi a Te Taura Whiri i te reo Māori.  These are updated periodically and can be found as a downloadable PDF file on the Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori | Māori Language Commission website.  

Orthography is the written system selected for any language.  Orthography includes spelling conventions, use of diacritics (the tohutō or macron for te reo Māori to indicate vowel length), and features of punctuation such as use of capital letters and hypenation.  At UC we have developed some additional features of written style.

The orthographic conventions for te reo Māori have changed over time as written use of the language has developed.  What we outline below may be different from what you have seen in other contexts, and in particular in older printed texts.  One key difference may be in the use of macrons.

Style Guide - Te Reo Style Guide

Te reo Māori is the original and indigenous language of Aotearoa and like English and sign language, is an official language here in Aotearoa.  We choose to honour te reo Māori by adopting the orthographic convention that begins with te reo Māori, followed by the English equivalent.  This is both an acknowledgement of Aotearoa New Zealand’s national and governmental commitment to support Māori language revitalisation strategies and also to adopt a convention which enables our institution to use te reo Māori within English text.

UC is committed to bicultural development in all of its endeavours and has committed to bilingual naming and signage.  Recognising the official languages by including it in some aspects of our texts is part of that commitment.  

Te reo Māori is a diverse language which has different mita (dialects) or regional features.

Differences in pronunciation are the most frequent.  There are also words, phrases and kīanga (sayings) that are unique to individual iwi and hapū.  It’s important to be aware that there isn’t just “one” way of speaking te reo Māori that is used by all iwi.  A standardised version of the written and spoken Māori language has emerged and taught across many institutions.  The standard simply emerged because of the language background of those who happened to do that work, those whose textbooks became widely used, or those who became the first Māori broadcasters on radio, and later on television.

Here within the takiwā (territory) of Ngāi Tahu or ‘Kāi Tahu’, you may hear the use of the ‘k’ in place of the ‘ng’ as well as other dialectal differences in pronunciation ie, ‘kai’ or ‘hai’ in place of ‘hei’ or ‘kei’.  This unique southern mita is particularly prevalent amongst the hapū south of the Waitaki River.

However, here at UC and within the rohe pōtae of Ngāi Tūāhuriri (the hapū area of the mana whenua) we use the ‘ng’ as the preferred mita.

In text produced on a computer, Unicode macrons should be used.  Here is a link to the instructions for activating the macrons on a Māori keyboard:


Alternatively, you can also contact IT for help by making an Assyst request should you need extra guidance with the installation.

Te Ohu Reo is active for 2022, but currently has lower capacity to work on requests. Our typical four-week turnaround might therefore be extended, depending on the nature and volume of work needed for your request. Our aim is to complete requests as soon as we can.  

We are keen to see and hear the role titles and work unit titles already distributed in full use across UC and in our communications from UC to the wider community. The UC Te Reo Māori Style Guide is a useful document to help you add these to (e.g.) your webpages, email signatures, business cards. Your Kaiārahi can help you with pronunciation of the names relevant to your work. You can find the details of your respective Kaiārahi on our Te Waka Pākākano webpage.

Te Ohu Reo intends to add the existing role titles to the UC Māori Kuputaka | List of Terms. We also have plans to add sound files for all the items in the Kuputaka when we have the capacity.

Thank you for your patience and understanding. For any urgent matters, please contact Mary Boyce: mary.boyce@canterbury.ac.nz

Te Ohu Reo sits within Te Waka Pākākano | Office of the Assistant Vice-Chancellor Māori, Pacific and Equity. And is charged with providing guidance and support with quality, accurate use of te reo Māori content, in any student or outward-facing communications – whether spoken, written or visual.  Wherever possible, the Ohu Reo ensures our communications align with our UC cultural narratives and the wishes of mana whenua, Ngāi Tūāhuriri, and with Ngāi Tahu more broadly, who have formal agreements with UC.

Requests for assistance with use of te reo Māori, translations, bilingual naming requests, cultural content in English and reo Māori and generation of terms for use in all aspects of the university’s work are submitted using the Ohu Reo Request form which can be found on the Amokapua Waka Pākākano | AVC Māori, Pacific and Equity webpage.

All requests must take into consideration a timeframe of up to four weeks for completion, so wherever possible please submit requests well ahead of the date required so we can do our very best to return the results as soon as we are able.

Once you receive a response from the Ohu Reo you may need to do some follow-up work with your Kaiārahi to help you understand how best to implement use of that term, name, or expression in the context of your practice.

The macron is the established means of indicating a long vowel.  The standard references to consult for vowel length are listed below:

  • Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori, He Pātaka Kupu – te kai a te rangatira. 2008. Wellington: Raupō.
    Not the complete printed version: https://hepatakakupu.nz/book 

Tohu Oro Tāpara | Long Vowels

It’s important to mark vowel length when writing because the length of a vowel can indicate a different word meaning:

Te Ao Mārama: the world of light / understanding Te Ao Marama: the world of the moon
keke – cake kēkē – armpit
kaka – dress kākā – native parrot


Tohutō, macrons, are to be used to indicate the long vowels in words:

  • rōpū - ‘group’
  • wānanga – ‘to meet and discuss’
  • Ngāi Tūāhuriri


There are some instances where two vowels the same occur one after the other, but you don’t use a macron. This is because of the derivation of these few words. They are typically made up of more than one word or word part, and the distinct words that make them up are indicated by running the two contributing words together, e.g.

  • manaaki - ‘look after, entertain’ (not *manāki, *manaki)
  • whakaaro – ‘to think’ (not *whakāro, *whakaro)
  • mataara - ‘be watchful’ (not *matāra, *matara)

Prefixes are written as part of the word.  Here are some examples:


Whaka- can be prefixed to adjectives, statives, verbs and some nouns.

  • rongo – ‘to hear, feel, smell, taste, perceive - used for all the senses except sight.
  • whakarongo – ‘listen, to listen’ (not *whaka rongo, *whaka-rongo)

Agentive kai-

  • kaimahi - ‘worker’ (not *kai mahi, *kai-mahi)
  • kaitiaki - ‘guardian, minder’ (not *kai tiaki, *kai-tiaki)
  • kaiwhakahaere - ‘manager’ (not *kai whakahaere, *kai-whakahaere)
  • kaitātari - ‘analyst’ (not *kai tātari, *kai-tātari)
  • kaiārahi - (not *kai ārahi)

Compound words

UC follows Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori conventions for the written form of compound words.  For detailed information, see Harlow, R. 2001. A Māori Reference Grammar. Auckland: Longman. Chapter 4, and in particular section 4.5 pp. 131-132 which refers to compound words consisting of four vowels or fewer that are generally written as a single word:

  • wharekai - ‘dining room’ < whare - ‘building’ + kai ‘food, to eat’
  • kirihou - ‘plastic’, < kiri – ‘skin’ + hou ‘new’

However there are few instances when both forms are used but carry different meanings:

  • wharenui – meeting house, typically part of a marae complex
  • whare nui – big house or building, about its size not the nature of the building

Compound words consisting of five or more vowels are generally written as two (or more) words:

  • whare karakia - ‘church’ < whare ‘building’ + karakia ‘prayer’

Flora and fauna

Compound names of birds, fish, insects, plants, etc are generally written as separate words, with no hyphens:

  • kiwi kura - ‘North Island brown kiwi’
  • mangō pare - ‘hammerhead shark’
  • tunga rākau - ‘huhu grub’
  • tī kōuka - ‘cabbage tree’
  • huruhuru whenua – spleenwort, a type of fern

Words prefixed with ā-

The prefix ‘ā-’ meaning ‘in the manner of’ is joined to the word it is modifying – the word immediately after it - with a hyphen.

  • waiata ā-ringa ‘action song’
  • hui ā-tau ‘annual meeting’
  • kite ā-kanohi ‘to see with one’s own eyes’
  • tikanga ā-iwi ‘cultural practice’

Capitalisation in proper names

The first letter of the name is capitalised.  If there is an initial ‘Te’ the first letter of ‘Te’ is capitalised, and the first letter of the next word is also capitalised.  The only other parts of a name to have initial capitals are those which are themselves proper names. For example:

  • Te Waipounamu (not Te Wai Pounamu) ‘South Island’
  • Kā Tiritiri-o-te-Moana ‘Southern Alps’
  • Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa ‘Pacific Ocean’
  • Te Tauihu-o-Te-Waka-a-Māui ‘Nelson/ Marlborough region’
  • Kā Pākihi-whakatekateka-a-Waitaha ‘Canterbury Plains’
  • Te Upoko-o-te-ika-a-Māui ‘Wellington region’

The original Māori names of places embed the stories and history of the people and the land from a time prior to colonisation.  For information and insight on the original names and their meanings within the takiwā (iwi territory) of Ngāi Tahu, please refer to Kā Huru Manu, the Ngāi Tahu cultural mapping atlas.

Style note:
At UC we use both the Māori and English names for local place names, names of organisations, institutions, government entities and UC roles, titles and names.  These are laid out beginning with the Māori word first, followed immediately by the English place name - with no intervening punctuation. 

We have also considered the practicality of the word order for some readers: putting Māori names/ titles first followed by the English works well for readability – the text then moves from Māori name/title to English name/title, and then the main text flows on in English, so for some readers, this is smoother in flow than going from English to Māori, and back to English again.

Here are some examples of how to write this in a sentence form:

  • Ōtautahi Christchurch is my home city.
  • Thirty students travelled to Kawatiri Westport last week.
  • Be sure to visit the Ōtehīwai Mt John Observatory in Takapō Tekapo.

For names beginning with the definite article ‘Te’, this is always written as a separate word:

  • Te Tai-o-Marokura
  • Te Tai-o-Maahunui
  • Te Tai-o-Rehua
  • Te Tai-o-Araiteuru
  • Te Rauparaha

It is important to ensure that people have the right to dictate the spelling of their own name.  If in doubt about the spelling of name, please do not hesitate to check with the person directly, or alternatively you can contact your Kaiārahi from Te Waka Pākākano.

Names of iwi, hapū and other kin groups

The collective title, for example, Ngā/ Kā, Ngāi/ Kāi, Ngāti/ Kāti, Te, Te Āti, Te Aitanga, Te Whānau, is written separately (please refer to the section on Mita | Dialect regarding the use of the Ng or K in the Ngāi Tahu dialect).  The remainder of the name follows the rules given earlier in this section:

  • Kāi Tahu / Ngāi Tahu
  • Ngāi Tūāhuriri
  • Ngāi Te Ruahikihiki/ Kāi Te Ruahikihiki
  • Te Āti Awa
  • Ngāti Porou
  • Ngā Puhi
  • Ngā Ruahinerangi
  • Te Rarawa
  • Te Aitanga-a-Hauiti
  • Te Whānau-a-Apanui

Names of organisations, institutions, government entities

When composing a document and using the name of any organisation particularly ministries, government departments or major institutions such as universities, please check the websites of those institutions to ensure you have included their Māori name.

At UC we write the Māori name followed by a pipe, followed by the English name - for example:

  • Hīkina Whakatutuki | Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment
  • Hoto Akoranga | StudyLink
  • Te Apārangi | Royal Society
  • Ngā Pirihimana o Aotearoa | New Zealand Police
  • Te Hiranga Tangata | Work and Income New Zealand (WINZ)

If the names are not in the appended glossary of names, please ensure you make contact with UC Te Ohu Reo to have all proper and place names checked and confirmed.

Use upper case ‘T’ where it is the first word of the name of an organisation, school, movement etc:

  • Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha
  • Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori
  • Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu
  • Te Pā o Rākaihautū
  • Te Kura Kaupapa o te Whānau Tahi
  • Te Wānanga o Aotearoa

Where a title is used in front of a personal name, it is capitalised:

  • Tā Tipene O’Regan
  • Tā Mark Solomon
  • Kahurangi Aroha Reriti-Crofts
  • Kahurangi Tariana Turia

Style note:
When writing in English, do not use a ‘the’ before ‘Te’ or ‘Ngā’, or after the pipe before the English:

  • We learn about Te Tiriti o Waitangi | Treaty of Waitangi in this class.
  • (not ‘We learn about Te Tiriti o Waitangi | the Treaty of Waitangi in this class.’) 

It is often unnecessary to translate ‘Te Tiriti o Waitangi’ as this is widely known throughout Aotearoa New Zealand.

The word ‘Māori’ has a capital when it refers to the people and the language, used as a noun or an adjective.

  • the Māori language
  • Māori politicians
  • Māori statistics
  • tamariki Māori
  • wāhine Māori

When māori is used meaning ‘ordinary,or natural’, it is not capitalised:

  • wai māori - ‘fresh water’
  • rongoā māori - ‘natural remedy’
  • rākau māori - ‘native tree’

UC has a preference to use the Ngāi Tahu names for the months and seasons of the year.  Please refer to the table below.

Māori names for the months of the year

January Iwa Kohi-tātea Hanuere
February Kahuru Hui-tanguru Pēpuere
March  Kahuru-kai-paeka  Poutū-te-rangi  Maehe 
April Kai-te-haere Paenga-whāwhā Āperira
May Mātahi-ā-te-tau Haratua Mei
June Māruaroa Pipiri Hune
July Toru Hōngingoi Hūrae
August Whā Here-turi-kōkā Ākuhata
September Rima Mahuru Hepetema
October Ono Whiringa-ā-nuku Oketopa
November Whitu Whiringa-ā-rangi Noema
December Waru Hakihea Tīhema

 *These terms are derived from the maramataka Māori, Māori lunar calendar

Māori names for the days of the week

Monday Mane Rāhina Mane
Tuesday Tūrei Rātū Tūrei
Wednesday Wenerei Rāapa Wenerei
Thursday Tāite Rāpare Tāite
Friday Paraire Rāmere Paraire
Saturday Hātarei Rāhoroi Hātarei
Sunday Rātapu Rātapu Rātapu

Māori names for the seasons of the year

Spring Kana Kōanga
Summer Raumati Raumati
Autumn Kahuru Ngahuru
Winter Makariri Takurua / Hōtoke


Do not add possessive apostrophe ‘s’, or ‘s’ apostrophe to Māori words:

Use Not
Use: the word preferred by Te Waipounamu for 'uaua' Not: *Te Waipounamu's preferred word for 'uaua'
Use: the most recent eruption of Ruapehu Not: *Ruapehu's most recent eruption
Use: the word used by Ngāti Raukawa for toheroa Not: *Ngāti Raukawa's word for toheroa

Style notes:

Do not add English affixes to Māori words.  Rephrase instead.

Do not add ‘s’ to Māori words in the plural:

Use Not: 
Use: the mayor of Kaikōura Not: *Kaikōura’s mayor
Use: Māori Not: * Māoris
Use: Many Māori identify with several iwi Not: *Many Māoris identify with several iwis


Do not use contractions on Māori words:

Use Not
Use: Rotorua is hosting the event in 2021 Not: *Rotorua’s hosting the event in 2021
Use: Our kōhanga has closed down for the year Not: *Our kōhanga’s closed down for the year
Use: Koro has just baked a cake Not:*Koro's just baked a cake
Use: Ngāti Toa is opening its new wharenui  Not: *Ngāti Toa’s opening its new wharenui

Names, and especially place names, that begin with O, have a macron on the o: Ō.

  • Ōtautahi
  • Ōtepoti
  • Ōtehīwai
  • Ōtaki
  • Ōpōtiki

Give the English meaning for a Māori word in English text when necessary, by adding the word in brackets immediately after the Māori word.  Use the same typeface; do not italicise or use speech marks.  

  • His whanaunga (relatives) came from Te Waipounamu.
  • His iwi, Ngāi Tahu, are focused on language revitalisation.  
    (nb: the iwi name ‘Ngāi Tahu’ does not need glossing)

The first time the word is used in a document, it may require a gloss if that word comes from te reo Māori, and is not commonly used in New Zealand English however, it is not necessary to keep repeating this format everytime.

For a word that is repeated throughout the document it is recommended, where possible, to adopt the kupu Māori (Māori word) or alternate between the use of the English or Māori word.  This is a language revitalization strategy to support the normalisation of reo Māori use in text and print.

Additionally, Māori words that have entered New Zealand English do not need to be glossed.  See a sample list of words that do not need glossing in the Appendix below.

Style note:
It is not necessary to say ‘whānau and families’. Just use the word ‘whānau’:

  • Students and their whānau came along to Herea tō Waka | UC Orientation Day.

The pipe character should only be used to separate official and approved bilingual names:

  • Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha | University of Canterbury
  • Te Tiriti o Waitangi | Treaty of Waitangi
  • Te Kura Pūtaiao Koiora | School of Biological Sciences
  • Te Waka Pākākano | Office of the Assistant Vice-Chancellor Māori, Pacific and Equity
  • Te Rāngai Ako me te Hauora | College of Education, Health and Human Development
  • Te Ratonga Ākonga me te Whakapā | Student Services and Communications
  • Te Rōpū Ākonga o Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha | UCSA

The pipe character should be used whenever the translation is provided on the same line of text – whether in a title or written in-text.  If the bilingual name is split to appear on two separate lines, the pipe is not necessary. 

In-text example:

You will find Te Waka Pākākano | Office of the Assistant Vice-Chancellor Māori, Pacific and Equity in Te Ao Mārama.

An online survey was sent to all staff and students of Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha
University of Canterbury during the Covid-19 Lockdown.

Title example:

Te Rōpū Tūao | Student Volunteer Army


Te Rōpū Tūao
Student Volunteer Army

You should not write ‘the’ or ‘a’ or ‘some’ in English before Māori articles/ determiners (te, ngā, he) in names. When the English title or name follows the pipe, it does not need ‘the’ added:

Use: Professor Cheryl de la Rey, Te Tumu Whakarae | Vice-Chancellor Not:* Professor Cheryl de la Rey, the Te Tumu Whakarae | Vice-Chancellor
Not: * Professor Cheryl de la Rey, Te Tumu Whakarae | the Vice-Chancellor
Use: Professor Cheryl de la Rey is Te Tumu Whakarae | Vice-Chancellor of Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha | University of Canterbury Not: * Professor Cheryl de la Rey is the Te Tumu Whakarae |the Vice-Chancellor of Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha | the University of Canterbury
Ngāi Tahu Place Names 
Kā Pākihi-whakatekateka-a-Waitaha/ Waitaha  Canterbury 
Ōtautahi Christchurch
Te Rāpaki-o-Te-Rakiwhakaputa Rāpaki
Wairewa Little River
Ōtepoti Dunedin
Hokonui Gore
Murihiku Invercargill
Ōraka Colac Bay
Aparima Riverton
Awarua Bluff
Rakiura Stewart Island
Ngāi Tahu Places and Institutions 
Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu Te Rūnanga o Arowhenua  
Kaikōura Rūnanga Arowhenua Marae
Takahanga Marae Te Rūnanga o Waihao
Te Ngāi Tūāhuriri Rūnanga Waihao Marae
Tuahiwi Marae Te Rūnanga o Moeraki 
Te Hapū o Ngāti Wheke Moeraki Marae
Te Rāpaki-o-Te-Rakiwhakaputa Marae Kāti Huirapa Rūnaka ki Puketeraki 
Te Rūnanga o Koukourarata Puketeraki Marae
Tūtehuarewa Marae Te Rūnanga o Ōtākou
Wairewa Rūnanga Ōtākou Marae
Wairewa Marae Hokonui Rūnanga
Ōnuku Rūnanga Ō Te Ika Rama Marae
Ōnuku Marae Waihōpai Rūnaka
Te Taumutu Rūnanga Murihiku Marae
Te Pā o Moki Ōraka Aparima Rūnaka
Te Rūnanga o Makaawhio Te Takutai o te Tītī Marae
Te Tauraka Waka a Māui Marae Awarua Rūnanga
Ngāti Waewae Rūnanga Te Rau Aroha Marae
Arahura Marae  

There are a number of Māori words that have entered New Zealand English and do not need to be glossed.

  • Aotearoa (New Zealand)
  • aroha (love)
  • hāngī (traditional feast prepared in earth oven)
  • haka (war dance with actions)
  • hīkoi (walk)
  • hui (gathering, meeting)
  • iwi (tribe)
  • kai (food)
  • karakia (incantation, prayer)
  • kauri (large native conifer)
  • kea (native parrot)
  • Kia ora (Hello, greetings)
  • kiwi (native flightless bird)
  • kōhanga reo (Māori Immersion pre-school)
  • kura kaupapa (Māori immersion primary school)
  • wharekura (Māori immersion high school)
  • mahi (work or activity)
  • makō (shark)
  • mana
  • Māori
  • moa (large flightless bird, now extinct)
  • (traditional fortified village)
  • Pākehā (New Zealander of non-Maori descent, usually European)
  • pounamu (greenstone)
  • puku (stomach)
  • taonga (treasured possessions or cultural items, anything precious)
  • te reo Māori (the Māori language)
  • tuatara (reptile endemic to New Zealand)
  • waka (canoe, vehicle)
  • whānau (family)