Learn more about our Māori Culture

Discover the magic of Māori culture in Tāmaki Makaurau.

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Tāmaki Makaurau - A place desired by many   

Tāmaki Herenga Waka - The place where many canoes gather 

These are the Māori names given to Auckland. They speak of our diverse landscapes, beautiful harbours and fertile soils. They speak of the coming together of different iwi (tribes) to meet and trade. Today, people from all over the world visit Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland for the same reasons – to experience our natural beauty and unique Māori culture.  

In the spirit of manaakitanga – hospitality, generosity, and openness of spirit – we welcome our visitors as guests. Discover this spirit as you connect with the people, land and stories that have shaped our region.   

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Early occupation 

The arrival of ocean-going waka (canoes) from the Pacific brought people who settled along the shores of the Manukau and Waitematā Harbours of Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland roughly 1000 years ago. These voyagers had discovered the last temperate landmass on Earth to be settled. 

Volcanic cones presented the ideal locations for the development of defendable pā (fortified village settlements). Combined with a highly strategic maritime location with proximity of 3 harbours made Tāmaki Makaurau an unparalleled centre of Māori social organisation and the most active network of complex inter-tribal relationships and connections, transit and trade in Māori society.   

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Nature and culture 

Tāmaki Makaurau is home to a number of unique natural environments that are significant, here and internationally. The way Māori regard land and water is more than just physical landscape. There is a spiritual and cultural relationship, connected through whakapapa (genealogy).

Maunga (mountains), awa (rivers), rākau (trees), the sea and other natural features are often considered the embodiment of ancestors and in some cases are ancestral beings in their own right. Marae (Māori meeting house) also hold significant spiritual and cultural importance to Māori.  


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Tūpuna Maunga

The Tūpuna Maunga (ancestral mountains) / volcanic cones of Tāmaki Makaurau hold a paramount place in the historical, spiritual, ancestral, and cultural identity of the iwi (tribes) and hapū (subtribes) of Tāmaki Makaurau. 

The maunga (volcanic cones) are at the heart of Auckland's identity and represent a celebration of our Māori identity as the city's point of difference in the world. 

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Tribal connections 

Tāmaki Makaurau has the largest Māori population in Aotearoa (New Zealand). Their presence underpins the rich cultural landscape that makes our region unique.  

There are 19 local iwi (tribes) hapū (subtribes) who have genealogical ties to different regions across Tāmaki Makaurau.

Tāmaki Makaurau is also home to a large Māori urban population whose tribal connections are outside of Tāmaki Makaurau boundaries.

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Te reo Māori language  

Te Reo Māori is the indigenous Māori language of Aotearoa New Zealand and one of our official languages.  Here is a glossary of common Te reo Māori words and phrases to enhance your experience.   

Te reo Māori glossary  

  • Tāmaki Makaurau – Auckland 
  • Iwi – Tribe 
  • Manaakitanga – Spirit of generosity  
  • Maunga – Mountain 
  • Awa – River 
  • Moana – Ocean  
  • Whenua – land 
  • Wairua – Spirit  
  • Waka – Canoe 
  • Pā – Fortified village settlements  
  • Kia ora - Hello
  • Tēnā koe - Greetings to you
  • Tēnā koutou - Greetings to you all
  • Kia ora koutou - Thank you all
  • Ka pai - Good job
  • Noho ora mai - Stay well
  • Kei te pēhea koe - How are you?
  • Kei te pai ahau - I'm good
  • Ka kite anō - See you later