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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 8, Issue 6 (October 2, 1933)

The Word “Pakeha.”

The Word “Pakeha.”

Some absurd statements concerning the origin and meaning of Maori words and place-names often find their way into the newspapers. A correspondent of a Wellington paper not long since declared that “it was not generally known” that the word “pakeha,” used to denote a white person was not a true Maori word but was developed by the natives in the early days from a swear-word much used by the early whalers. Those unfortunate early whalers are blamed for so many things! They cannot, however, be held accountable for “pakeha.” This is certainly an ancient and genuine Maori word, of Polynesian origin, meaning a foreigner, a stranger, not necessarily white, but probably derived from or associated with “pakehakeha,” which is an expression to denote fair-skinned legendary beings. “Patupaiarehe,” or fairies, are sometimes termed “pakehakeha” with reference to their colour. “Kiritea” is another term for a white or fair skin, but “pakeha” is the Maori word most used, and it is ridiculous to ascribe to it a whaler's term-of-endearment origin.