Ngā Whakamārama

This glossary of Māori terms have been collated to support our members in their understanding of Māori terms used throughout our organisation and community.


With the complex nature of the Māori language, it is impossible to have a direct translation from English to Māori, one word may have many variations or have many meanings.


We have used many terms found in Te Reo Hāpai – The Language of Enrichment, a glossary of researched and created Māori words and terms that adequately and accurately reflect the best use of Te Reo Māori in the mental health, addiction and disability sectors.

Tāngata Whaikaha Māori

People who have strength, to have ability, to be otherly abled, and to be enabled of Maori descent.

“Tāngata Whaikaha means people who are determined to do well, or is certainly a goal that they reach for. It fits nicely with the goals and aims of people with disabilities who are determined in some way to do well and create opportunities for themselves as opposed to being labelled, as in the past.”

Maaka Tibble, founding member of the Māori Disability Leadership Group, 2016

Ngā Whaikaha

People who have strength, to have ability, to be otherly abled, and to be enabled.*


*A term used widely in health sectors for a people with disability.


Blind, Blindly, Blindness.


Term widely used by Kāpō Māori Aotearoa. Other variations are used by other regions such as Kerepō, Matakerepō, Matapō, Pohe, Pura. 

Tangata Kāpō

Blind Person.

Is often also used for visually impaired people - also see Tangata Matarehu


To see uncleary, dimily.


Tangata Matarehu

Visually Impaired Person.

Often used to describe a person with some sight, not yet total blind - also see Tangata Kāpō


This term was inspired by patupaiarehe; fairy-like people who live in the forest or on the misty mountain tops. In Māori traditions, patupaiarehe are very illusive and difficult to see, hiding just out of sight.


To be annoyed, fed up, tired.


To be ashamed, embarrassed, shy.