Te Reo Māori & Wāina

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?

​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. If you travel around New Zealand, you’ll notice place names, signs, key terms, and phrases increasingly used in everyday life.

Initiatives such as Te Wiki o te Reo Māori (Māori Language Week) 11– 17 September 2023, Māori language schools (from pre-school through to high school), and a Māori language television stations are all playing a role in making sure te Reo Māori remains a living language throughout New Zealand.

The New Zealand wine industry is also embracing the revival with many winegrowers 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. The New Zealand wine industry also embraces the principles of whanaungatanga (far-no-na-tar-na), which is about relationships, kinship, and a sense of family connection. It is created through shared experiences and through working together, provides people with a sense of belonging.

You can help support te Reo Māori by making an effort to get pronunciation right, and using simple words and phrases in everyday conversation. 

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! 
  • Mōrena - 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
  • Tūrangawaewae - A place to stand, a place to belong to, a seat or location of identity
  • Haere rā - Goodbye 
  • Whakapapa - family and heritage
  • Whānau - 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 list - rārangi wāina
  • white wine - wāina ma
  • 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 Wairarapa (glistening waters), Waipara (muddy water), Waitaki (weeping waters / water of tears) and Waiheke Island (the descending waters) – all winegrowing regions of Aotearoa New Zealand.

Tuku Māori Winemakers Collective

Tuku Māori Winemakers Collective

Tuku is the world’s first Māori 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.


Steve Bird Wines

Steve Bird Wines is a small family owned and operated business built on manākitanga, a generosity of spirit toward the land and each other and the foundation of sharing and caring.  Steve Bird Wines are driven by a deep connectedness with the earth and its sustainability, and an inherent belief that of greatest importance, is the relationships we form with each other. 



In 1836 Hayden’s 4th great grandfather, Captain James Joss, married Hayden’s Māori Grandmother KURU KURU, of Ngai Tahu tribe. Each bottle of KURU KURU proudly displays a portratal of her moko kauae, the mark carved on her chin, signalling her respected position in Māori society.


te Pā

The story of te Pā began around 1350 AD, where it is said the first canoes rode the crashing waves of the Wairau Bar in to the Wairau river mouth. People set foot in Aotearoa, New Zealand, perhaps for the very first time. When the indigenous Māori made the Wairau Bar their home, it became the earliest known settlement in New Zealand. Since then, the land at the Wairau Bar has been a source of sustenance and abundance to the people who call it home.


Tiki Wines

The Tiki whānau (family) are an indigenous New Zealand wine producer who care for their vines under the guiding Māori principles of kaitiakitanga: guardian, protection and preservation of the earth. Founder Royce McKean’s family has been living and farming in New Zealand for hundreds of years. As well as Tiki honouring Royce's great great grandfather, the name also represents a hand carved Māori treasure which, when gifted bestows good fortune and love on others. Tiki craft their wines with this same spirit in mind.


Jeff Sinnott

The Sinnott whānau (family) are descendants of the Tuwharetoa iwi (tribe) and are pioneers of viticulture in the Waitaki Valley. The Waitaki Valley is a substantial central South Island valley that encompasses Aoraki (Mount Cook) and the Mackenzie Country including its lakes. The name of the valley translates to tears of Aoraki, and their first vineyard site was formed by a 38-million-year-old seabed. The Sinnott whānau work and live by the whakataukī (Māori proverb) “ma te Whakakitenga ka ora” which means “vision gives life”.

Tohu Wines

Tohu Wines is a Māori owned wine company based in Te Tauihu at the top of the South Island and acknowledged as He mātāmua taketake - the original and the first Māori-owned and operated wine label in the world. Tohu’s winemaking philosophy is to create wines that capture the flavours of each region’s unique environment, while upholding respect and protection of the land for future generations.

Every Tohu bottle carries the company’s distinctive logo, derived from a koru pattern. For Māori, the koru symbolises growth, life and the natural world, and Tohu says the iconic spiral represents the growth of the company and the journey of their people from the past to today.

In the premium New Zealand wine region of Marlborough winemakers and viticulturalists have been encouraged  to attend introductory courses on Te Reo Māori so they can correctly pronounce place names and common terms when they are representing Aotearoa and the New Zealand Wine Industry overseas. 

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