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Maori-Polynesian Comparative Dictionary


page xiii



That the Polynesian dialects are related to each other and form but isolated varieties of one great language is by no means a very modern discovery. The first attempt at a comparative table (of forty-seven Oceanic words) was made by Dr. Reinhold Forster, the naturalist who accompanied Captain Cook on his first voyage. Mr. Anderson published a table at the end of the third voyage of Cook, in which the comparison was carried further by including the languages of Madagascar and the Malay Archipelago. Anderson was followed by the Abbé Lorenzo Hervas, the Jesuit, who, in his “Catalogue of Languages,” published in 1800, set the case very clearly and intelligently before the public. William Marsden and John Crawfurd, authors of great repute as Malay students, followed with learned essays—the former considering the Polynesians as offshoots from the Malays, and the latter believing that the origin of the Malay and Oceanic languages was distinct. Dumont d'Urville accompanied his report on the French Exploring Expedition of 1825–1829 with a Comparative Vocabulary, published in 1833; at the same time stating his opinion to be that the Polynesians were survivors from the peoples of a now-submerged continent. Adelbert von Chamisso issued a volume on the Hawaiian language in 1837, and was followed by Baron W. von Humboldt in 1838 with his scholarly book on the Kawi Language of the Island of Java. In this very voluminous work Humboldt examines the vocabularies and grammatical construction of the Oceanic languages, and considers that the Tagal of the Philippines is the leading dialect. His vocabularies, however, were of a very imperfect character, and his deductions would have been considerably modified had he possessed the information at present at our service; his Maori being the Maori of Lee and Kendall, and his Tongan, if possible, still more defective and illusory. The more modern attempts, fragmentary in character, have all been marred by imperfect comparison and careless printing, so that they are of no use as authorities for any scientific purpose.


Most of the Polynesian Vocabularies follow the rule of putting all the words commencing with a vowel or continuing with vowels before those having leading consonants. Thus the Hawaiian Dictionary is arranged in following order: A, E, I, O, U, H, K, L, M, &c.; Umu precedes Hau, Heu precedes Hehe, &c., &c. This custom has not been followed in the present volume, where the words, intended for English readers, are arranged in the order of the English alphabet. The exceptions are ng and wh; these are considered as single letters; words commencing with ng follow the completed series of n, and words in wh follow the completed series of w.

There are strong reasons in favor of printing all words commencing with the causative whaka under wh; the main point in favour of this course being ease of reference, especially to those persons not at all acquainted with the language. In a Comparative Dictionary, however, it is necessary to group the words together for convenience of reference. Thus whaka-oti, to finish, must be looked for under Oti; pupuhi and puhipuhi under Puhi; papai, paingia, whaka-pai, and whaka-paipai under Pai. A very little practice in consulting the Dictionary will make the reader accustomed to this order of composition.


I have carefully avoided the use of letters to mark the native words as substantive, adjective, verb, &c. It is an unwise, if not a mischievous, effort to make if we endeavour to force the rules of grammar which fit (more or less) the modern stage of the English tongue upon a language belonging to the utterly unequal grammar-period in which the Polynesian speech is now found. I use these expressions with consideration, because I believe that there is a constant progress or decay in all languages, affecting their character and rendering their forms unsuitable. This is certainly the case in regard to the English grammar, where we have seen case-endings and inflected plurals in a state of flux for the last few centuries and tending to disappearance. The Polynesian (of course including Maori) has been in such a condition of isolation that its changes have not been recorded; indeed, they have probably been fewer than those of peoples where intercommunication has been easy, and where language and dialect have again and again, by conquest or commercial enterprise, overlaid and overlapped the linguistic boundaries. The effort to adapt Maori words to rules of English grammar is evaded by the complex simplicity (if I may use such an expression) of the native language, where one word may serve either as verb, noun, or adjective, according to its context, and wherein particles page xiv whose use only practice can render familiar, are able to link words into sentences capable of rendering very subtle and sensitive expression. If we attempt to retain these particles in the net of English grammar, we shall be in the unpleasant situation of having to lay down rules with more exceptions than examples.

The Accent (as màra, mòna, &c.) has been used to denote a lengthened stress upon the vowel so marked. [Through inadvertence, in a few cases the accent has been printed thus, á instead of à.] Some writers of Maori prefer a double letter, as maara, &c., but this is misleading, as the sound is not that of two distinct vowels. In all cases where accents are not used, the first syllable is more strongly marked than the others, although not with the longthened vowel sound.

The pronunciation of the Vowels as printed in Maori and in all Polynesian writings is nearly that used by the Italians. The vowels are as follows:—

a short, almost like the English short u in smut.

à long; rather longer than in father.

e short, as in bent, sent.

è long, resembling the a in Mary.

i short, as in hit, pit, &c.,

é long, as ce in fleet.

o short, as in lock.

ò long, as in cocoa.

u short, as o in lose.

ù long, as oo in pooh.

The Consonants have nearly the same power as in English. Ng is pronounced like ng in flinging, ringing, &c. It is probable that formerly in some localities the r varied into l and d, the p into b, &c., but the efforts to educate the Maori children in their own language have resulted in the production of a classic form, in which the r and p are distinctly r and p. The pronunciation varies slightly with locality, thus tangata is in some places tanata, but these irregularities of the sub-dialects are very fluctuating and unfixed.



The vowels sometimes interchange with each other. The following may serve as examples:—

A and E.—Tutai, a spy, tutei; hapa, crooked, hape; hura, to search, hure; ngawhara, to crumble, ngawhere; ngarahu, charcoal, ngarehu; ngangara, to snarl, ngengere; tora, to burn, tore; tawatawa, a mackerel, tewetewe.

A and I.—Rari, to make a loud confused noise, rara; tara, rays of the sun, tira..

A and O.—Kanohi, the eye, konohi; hopua, hollowed, hapua; nati, to constrict, noti; purau, a fork, purou; houhou, cool, hauhau; tora to burn, toro.

A and U.—Kanapa, bright, kanapu; rakaraka, to scratch, rakuraku; hawini, to shiver with cold, huwini.

A Lost.—Ngaoki, to creep, ngoki.

E and I.—Ngaingai, shells, ngaengae; niti, a dart, neti.

E and O.—Tore, to burn, toro.

E and U.—Kame, to eat, kamu.

I and A.—As A and I ante.

I and E.—As E and I ante.

I and O.—Hapoki, a pit for storing potatoes, hapoko; hinga, to lean, honga; hopi, to be afraid hopo; ngahiri, to be abundant, ngahoro.

I and U.—Ito, an object of revenge, uto; inu, to drink, unu; himu, the hip-bone, humu; iho, the heart of a tree, uho.

I Lost.—Hutoitoi, stunted, hutotoi.

O and A.—As A and O ante.

O and E.—As E and O ante.

O and I.—As I and O ante.

O and U.—Hotoke, winter, hutoke; ngoro, to snore, nguru.

U and A.—As A and U ante.

U and E.—As E and U ante.

U and I.—As I and U ante.

U and O.—As O and U ante.

U Lost.—Hauware, saliva, haware; houkeke, obstinate, hokeke; toukeke, churlish, tokeke.

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H and K.—Hurutete, stunted, kurutete; hore, not, kore; hatea, whitened, katea; huwha, the thigh, kuwha; harangi, unsettled, karangi; hukari, the young of birds, kukari; houka, a species of cabbage-tree, kouka.

H and N.—Puhuki, blunt, punuki.

H and NG.—Kongehe, feeble, kongenge; puhaehae, envious, pungaengae.

H and P.—Korohuhu, to boil, koropupu; harirau, a wing, parirau; hua, to bloom, pua.

H and R.—Hiwai, the potato, riwai.

H and T.—Hangoro, loose, tangoro; hapì, a native oven, tapì; hapaki, to catch lice, tapaki; hauà, cowardly, tautauà; hawera, a burnt spot in the bush or fern, tawera; hikaro, to pick out, tikaro; hokeke, churlish, tokeke.

H Lost.—Hitau, a small waist-mat, itau; hokioi, the name of a mythical bird, okioi; ngaehe, to rustle, ngahehe; hanene, blowing gently, anene; harangi, unsettled, arangi; hawhato, a kind of fungus, awhato; hawhe, to pass round, awhe; hihi, a sunbeam, ihiihi; hiku, the eaves of a house, ikuiku; hinanga, the name of a small fish, inanga; hopi, terrified, opi.

H and WH.—Haro, to scrape clean, wharo; hea, what place? whea? hinau, the name of a tree, whinau; hiore, the tail, whiore; hiroki, thin, whiroki; huha, the thigh, huwha; ohiti, on one's guard, owhiti; hapuku, the name of a fish, whapuku, &c., &c.

K and H.—See H and K ante.

K and M.—Kaewa, to wander, maewa; kapura, fire, mapura.

K and N.—Takoki, sprained, tanoni.

K and NG.—Kareko, to slip, karengo; kita, tightly, fast, ngita; koekoe, to scream, ngeongoe; koiro, the conger eel, ngoiro. [Note.—This is a very frequent letter-change, and between the NG of the North Island and K of the South is almost constant; as kainga, a village, kaika; nga, the plural article, ka, &c.]

K and P.—Karengo, to slip, parengo.

K and R.—Kahui, a herd, rahui; porokere, broken, pororere.

K and T.—Kokiri, to launch endways, tokiri; hiki, to start involuntarily, whiti; kaupoki, to cover, taupoki; naku, to scratch, natu.

K Lost.—Kahore, not, ahore; Kahua, form, appearance, ahua; karangi, unsettled, arangi.

M and K.—As K and M ante.

M and NG.—Mote, to suck, ngote; mongamonga, crushed, ngonga; motumotu, a firebrand, ngotu; mumutawa, a kind of beetle, ngungutawa.

M and P.—Maheno, untied, paheno; maka, to throw, panga; mona, a knot of a tree, pona.

M and T.—Mawhera, open, tawhera; haumaku, bedewed, hautaku.

M and WH.—Amio, to go round, awhio.

M Lost.—Maewa, to wander, aewa.

N and K.—As K and N ante.

N and NG.—Neinei, to stretch forwards, ngeingei.

N and R.—Naku, to scratch, raku; nehutai, spray, rehutai; Niwaru, the name of a canoe, Riwaru; wiri, to tremble, winiwini; nanea, copious, ranea.

N and T.—Noke, a worm, toke; natu, mixed, nanu.

NG and H.—As H and N G ante.

NG and K.—As K and NG ante.

NG and M.—As M and NG ante.

NG and N.—As N and NG ange.

NG and P.—Ngahoahoa, headache, pahoahoa.

NG Lost.—Hungoingoi, trembling, huoioi.

P and H.—As H and P ante.

P and K.—As K and P ante.

P and M.—As M and P ante.

P and NG.—As NG and P ante.

P and T.—Hiapo, to be gathered together, hiato; poremi, to disappear, toremi.

P and W.—Tapeke, to be all come or gone, taweke.

P and WH.—Penei, like this, whenei; pena, like that, whena.

R and H.—As H and R ante.

R and K.—As K and R ante.

R and N.—As N and R ante.

T and H.—As H and T ante.

T and K.—As K and T ante.

T and M.—As M and T ante.

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T and N.—As N and T ante.

T and P.—As P and T ante.

T Lost.—Tauporo, to cut short, auporo; tiketike, high, lofty, ikeike; tungutu, to put together the sticks of a fire, ungutu.

W and T.—As T and W ante.

W Lost.—Tapuwae, a footstep, tapuae.

WH and H.—As H and WH ante.

WH and M.—As M and WH ante.

WH and P.—As P and WH ante.

Transposition.—Rango, a fly, ngaro; erangi, it is better, engari; ngarehe, forest, ngahere, &c.



The vowels seldom interchange in Samoan words, although there are a few examples of such transfer, e.g., tonini, to guess a riddle, tonana; soma, red native cloth, sema; taunu‘u, to arrive, tunu‘u.

The vowel-changes between Samoan and Maori are much more frequent. In the following instances the related Maori words are given in brackets:—Aluga, a soft pillow (urunga); anahea, when? of past time (inahea); lepa, a pond, to be stagnant (repo); anapo, last night, (inapo); ‘emo, to wink the eye (kimo); ogoogo, the stinging nettle (ongaonga); tafolà, a whale, (tohora); tagamimi, the bladder (tongamimi); tipa, to jump as a stone on the water when playing “ducks and drakes” (tipi); tupito, last, at the end (topito.)


Here the Samoan words are placed first with related Maori words (marked M) or Samoan words (marked S) following.

L and R.—Lagi, the sky, M. rangi; lau, a leaf, M. rau; lima, five, M. rima, &c., &c. This is the regular interchange.

L and T.—Lona, his, M. tona; lou, thine, M. tou; la‘u, my, M. toku; lau, thy, M. tau; la‘u, my, M. taku; le, the M. te; le, not, M. tè; lena, that, M. tena; lenei, this, M. tenei.

L (or R) and N.—Naumati, dry, M. raumati; nini‘i, small, M. ririki and S. liliki; manino, calm, M. marino; manene, to fall slowly, M. marere; nape, to be entangled, S. lape; no‘uno‘u, to be weighed down, M. roku; nono, the white ant, M. rororo; nunu, to crowd together, M. ruru; pologa, a slave, M. pononga.

L and G (NG).—Sala, continually, S. saga; tugagi, dull, blunt, S. tulali; tugafana, the step of a mast, S. tulafana.

G is written in Samoan for the sound of Maori NG, as gafulu, ten, M. ngahuru. A regular script.

L (or R) and ‘ (K.)—Pipi‘i, to stick to, M. piri.

L and S.—Segasega, yellowish, S. legalega.

M and T.—Tale, a cough, M. mare.

M and P.—Mase‘ese‘e, slippery, M. pahekeheke; masunu, to singe, M. pahunu; malemo, to be, drowned, M. paremo; mapà, to make a cracking noise, to snap, M. papà; magugu, to be scranched. S. pagugu.

M and F.—Manene, to loiter, S. fanene; mafine, a woman. S. fafine.

S and T.—Safe, pannus menstrualis, M. tahe; lalato, to have the mouth stung by an acrid substance, S. salato; sasa, a rod, M. ta; sefea, which? M. tehea; sou, thy, M. tou; so‘u, my, M, toku; sau, thy, M. tau; sana, his, M. tana; sè, not, M. tè; senei, this M. tenei; sena, that M. tena.

S and P.—Salafalafa, flat, M. paraharaha.

S and K.—Sapo, to catch at M. kapo; sasala, to be diffused, as a perfume. M. kakara.

S and H.—A regular interchange between Maori and Samoan. Soa, a companion, M. hoa; sau, dew, M. hau, &c., &c.

S and WH.—Asiosio, a whirlwind, M. awhiowhio.

‘ and K.—A regular interchange. [‘ is used to denote a “break” or catch of the breath, in sound between K and H, and used for the former letter.] A‘a, fibres of a root, M. aka; ‘a‘e, to ascend, M. kake; ‘ai, to eat, M. kai, &c., &c.

‘ and V.—Sa‘eu, to stir up, S. saveu.

‘ lost.—Uli, a dog, M. kuri; alalù, a cockroach, M. kekererù; iato, bars connecting the out-rigger with the canoe, M. kiato; io, a long strip of flesh or fish, M. kiko; ina‘i, to eat one kind of food with another, as sauce, M. kinaki; ave, a tentacle of cuttle-fish, M. kawekawe; avei, the handle of a mat-basket, M. kawei.

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‘added.—‘ivi, a bone, M. iwi; ‘aue, alas! M. aue; ‘e‘e, to place upon, M. eke.

‘and T.—Fato, to eat, S. va‘o.

W and V.—A regular interchange. Vai, fresh water, M. wai; vae, the leg of an animal, M. wae, &c., &c.

W and F.—Fasi, to split, a piece, M. wahi.

M and F.—Filo, a thread; S. milo, to twist rope. [See Whiro.]

V and F.—Fato, to eat, S. va‘o.

WH and F.—A regular interchange. Fetu, a star, M. whetu; fili, to plat, M. whiri; fa, four, M. wha, &c., &c.

H and F.—Fui, a cluster of nuts, M. hui; fua, to produce fruit, M. hua; fono, to hold a council, M. hono; foe, a paddle, M. hoe; fo‘i, to return, M. hoki. This is a very frequent though irregular interchange, and probably points out that the related Maori words have lost W; thus hoe, a paddle, should be whoe; hoki, to return, should be whoki.

N and T.—Ninifi to adorn, S. titifii.

H Lost.—I'u, the tail, M. hiku, uluulu to be bushy, said of the beard, M. huruhuru.

T Lost.—Mati'u'u, the finger nail, S. mai'u'u.

Transpositions.—Namu, a smell, an odour, S. manu; nivaniva, the bow of a native drill, S. vinavina.



The Tahitian words sometimes exchange vowels, but between Maori and Tahitian the interchange is more frequent. In the following examples the Tahitian word is placed first, and the related Maori or Tahitian word (marked M. or T.) follows.

Oeoe, sharp, pointed, M. koi; fetii, to tie or bind, M. whitiki; hapoi, to carry, T. hopoi; hinaaro, affection, M. hinengaro; mamo, progeny, M. momo; marara, the flying fish, M. maroro; metua and mitua, a parent, M. matua; pererau, the wingl of a fowl, M. parirau; teimaha, heavy, T. and M. taimaha; tinai, to extinguish fire, M. tinei; manihini, guests, visitors, M. manuhiri; afata, a scaffold, T. ihata; mahita. soon angry, T. mahiti; nivaniva, unsteady, T. nevaneva; nahu, well regulated, T. nahonaho; nihinihi, neat, T. nehenche; opai, to drift to leeward, T. opae; arava, a stripe, T. irava; manaa, manageable, T. manee; maua, an old cocoanut tree, T. maui: mira, to polish clubs, &c., T. mire; mitaro, accustomed, T. mataro; pahoro, a comb, T. pahere; rara, to run M. rere; reme, a torch, M. and T., rama; tioi, to turn a thing to one side, T. taoi; taopaopa, to roll, T. tiopaopa; tipaopao, to mark for revenge, T. tapaopao; tatia, a girdle, M. and T. tatua; tiatia, to carry or convey, T. tietie; tiparu, to flatter, T. taparu; tipu, to chop, T. tapu; virua and verua, the spirit, T. varua; vitahi, someone, T. vetahi; vihi, a wrapper, T. vehi. Tia appears often to be used for tu; as, tiapapau, a corpse, M. tupapaku; tia, to stand, M. tu: tiapuna, an ancestor, M. tupuna; tiarama, a torch, M. turama, &c., &c. Nia, above, is a curious word. It has probably been runga, nunga, nua, nia.


R and N.—Ramu, a mosquito, T. namu; anuhe, common fern, M. aruhe; manii, to be spilling, M. maringi; manino, calm, M. marino; manana, vagrant, M. marara; natu, to be brought into some dilemma, M. rapu; manaa, manageable, T. maraa; manuhini, visitors, M. and T. manuhiri; nave, to be pleased, M. rawe; naupa, to obtain, T. raupa; navai, to suffice, T. ravai; nua, above, M. runga.

M and P.—Mahore, to be peeling off, T. and M. pahore; nauma, to obtain, T. naupa; mahu, to cease, T. pahu; mahemo, to slip off, T. pahemo; patia, a spear, M. matia.

M and WH(F).—Humaha, the thigh, M. huwha and T. hufaa; maha, four, M. wha.

M and H.—Hiro, to twist, M. miro.

M Lost.—Teiaha, heavy, T. teimaha; araea, red earth, Marquesan karamea.

K Lost.—This is an entire loss. Ai, the neck, M. kaki; io, flesh, M. kiko, &c. &c.

K and V.—Vita, tied, fast-bound, M. kita.

NG Lost.—This is an entire loss. Aa, an insult, M. kanga; aau, the heart, M. ngakau, &c. &c., &c.

N and NG.—Na, the plural article “the,” M. nga; noi, a knot, M. ngoi.

N and P.—Natu, to be brought into some dilemma, T. napu; panai, to stand in a line, T. nanai.

N Lost.—Niniore, a species of fish-blubber, T. iiore.

N and R.—See R and N ante.

H and M.—See M and H ante.

H and F.—Aoha, a species of plantain, T. aofa; pufà, a disease of the foot, T. puha.

H and WH.—Hirinai, to lean on another, M. whaka-whirinaki.

H and R.—Maohi, native, T. and M. Maori.

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H and P.—Hananu, flowing (as the sea), T. pananu.

H Added.—Humaha, the thigh, T. hufaa.

H Lost.—Anaana, bright, shining, M. hana, T. hanahana; rairai, thin, M. rahirahi; ono, to join one piece to another, M. and T. hono; oromi, to disappear, M. horomi; nohinohi, small, T. noinoi; opohe, to be checked in growth, T. opoe.

P and M.—See M and P ante.

P and WH (F).—Patiri, thunder, M. whaitiri; patu, a stone wall, to build with stone, M. whatu.

P and N.—See N and P ante.

P Lost.—Pafata, a cage, a box, T. afata

R Lost.—Vau, eight, M. waru; puamaru, agitation of mind, T. puauau.

T Lost.—Raumai, to be fair after raining, M. raumati; ahu, to be burnt, tahu.

V and W.—A regular interchange. Vaha, the mouth, M. waha; vai, water, M. wai, &c., &c.

V Added.—Uvira, lighting, M. and T. uira.

WH and F.—A regular interchange. Fai, to confess, M. whaki; fare, a house, M. whare, &c.

WH and H.—See H and WH ante.

WH and M.—See M and WH ante.


In the following examples the Hawaiian word is written first, the corresponding or related word in Maori or Hawaiian (marked M. or H.) following the explanation.


Hekili, thunder, M. whaitiri; hone, to prick, M. honi; keehi, to stamp with the foot, M. takahi; kinai, to extinguish, as fire, M. tinei; koanamimi, the bladder, M. tongamimi; paha, perhaps, M., pea; mao, to carry off, M. mau; mae, to pine in sickness, H. mai; wao, to scrape, H. wau; wauke, the shrub from which a native cloth was made, H. waoke; wea, a red dye, H. weo; wila, a ribbon, H. wili; paaa, banana rind, H. paau; paolo, a bundle, H. puolo; paho, to sink, H. poho; pakaki, to talk irrationally, H. pakake; pakelo, to slip out of one's grasp, H. pakele; pakole, incompetent, H. pokole; peheu, the wing of a bird, M. pahau; peke, low, not tall, H. poko; pohihi, puzzling, H. pohihiu; pole, to defend off, M. pare; polemo, to sink in the water, H. palemo; puepue, to be large and plump, H. puipui; pona, the bursting of a boil, &c., H. puha; puhenu, a breathing, H. puhanu; pukoko, to cackle, H. pukaka; neko, bad smelling, H. niku; nuhe, sullen, H. nuha; mehana, heat, H. and M. mahana; loea, skill, H. loia; kahi, to cut, H. kahe; kahuwai, a brook, H. kahawai; kapuwai, a footstep, M. tapuwae; keo, white, H. kea, M. tea; kiope, lame, H. kaopa; kohi, to detain, H. kohe; kunahua, to bend forward in walking, H. kanahua; kupola, to roll up in a bundle, H. kapola; hai, to break open, H. hae; hauapu, a yearning, H. hauupu; haupo, the thorax, H. houpo; hakukai, to be stormy, H. hakukoi; hanu, to breathe, H. hano; hapakui, to stammer, H. hapakue; heliu, to face about, H. haliu; henehene, to laugh in derision, H. henahena; henuhenu, to be smooth, polished, H. hinuhinu; hilo, to turn, to twist, H. hili; huikau, to turn topsy-turvy, H. huikai; hukiki, to shiver, H. hukeke; ume, a lengthening out, H. umi; umu, tobake, H. imu; upo, to desire strongly, H. ipo and upu; oaka, to open as a door, H. uwaka; elelo, the tongue, H. alelo; enei, here, H. anei.


K.—The Maori K is entirely lost in Hawaiian; e.g., A, to burn, M. ka; aea, to wander, M. kaea; ume, to pull, M. kume, &c., &c. The Hawaiian K represents the Maori T. There are, however, a few cases in which irregularities appear to occur, suggesting that probably the K has been retained. Kakakaka, small cracks, M. katakata; kala, a public crier, M. kala; kawa, to flow freely, as perspiration, M. kakawa; naku, to root as a hog, M. naku; pekapeka, slander, M. peka; kumu, a species of red fish, M. kumukumu, the gurnard; kuhukuhu, a dove, M. kuku.

K and T.—The regular interchange of Maori and Hawaiian. Kanaka, a human being, M. tangata; kane, a male, M. tane; kai, the sea, M. tai, &c., &c.

K (T) and H.—Wehe, to open, as a door, H. weke; pekekeu, a wing, H. peheu; kike, to sneeze, H. kihe.

K (T) and P.—Kokoke, near to. H. pokohe; nukanuka, plump, H. nupanupa; koha, the crack of a whip, H. poha; hupi, to pull, H. huki; kulehu, to roast, H. pulehu.

K (T) and M.—Makia, to fasten with nails, H. kakia.

K (T) and L.—Ekekei, short, H. elehei.

K (T) Lost.—Nakele, boggy, H. naele; kalania, smooth, as the sea, H. alania; koaka, valiant, H. koaa; kopiko the name of a shrub, H. opiko; kukuhi, to pour water into a vessel, H. ukuhi.

H and K (T).—See K and H ante.

H and N.—Ponaha, circular, H. pohaha; nehe, a rumour, H. nene.

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H and P.—Hupu, angry, H. huhu.

H and M.—Hilo, to twist, milo.

H and W.—Hili, to twist, M. wiri.

H and WH.—A regular interchange between Maori and Hawaiian. Naha, to split open, as the ground, M. ngawha; hihi, the entangling of vines, M. whiwhi, &c., &c.

H. Lost.—Upe, mucus from the nose, M. hupe; makalui, to labour long, H. makaluhi; koehaeha, morose, H. koea; hehu, mist, H. ehu; hohule, bald, H. ohule; homi, withered, H. omi; hopilo, to relapse after sickness, H. opilo; hulili, to burn, H. ulili; hulina, to be soft to the touch, H. ulina; hehi, to trample, H. ehi.

M and H.—See H and M (ante).

M and K.—See K and M (ante).

M and P.—Pai, blight, fading, H. mai; piula, mule (a modern word), H. miula; peua, to join together, H. meua; pehe, like as, H. mehe; mumuka, bad, H. pupuka.

M and N.—Kunu, a gentle wind, H. kumu.

M and W.—Wakaikai, to examine, H. makaikai; komi, to press together, H. kowi; uwala, the sweet potato, M. kumara.

M Lost.—Maikola, worthless, H. aikola; uala, the sweet potato, M. kumara.

N and L (R).—Ununa, a pillow, M. urunga; hanana, to flow as water, H. halana; kanulu, heavy, H. kanunu; kulokuloku, to stand in pools, as water, H. kunokunoku; nanakea, to be weak in body, H. lanakea; nanahu, a coal, H. lanahu, M. ngarahu; manini, to spill, M. maringi; manino, calm, H. malino, M. marino; kalana, to sift, H. kanana; kunana, to step awry, H. kulana; hanana, to flow as water, H. halana; nanaau, to float on the current, H. lanaau; nanu, surf, H. nalu, M. ngaru; pinopino, bad swelling, H. pilopilo, M. piro; polohuku, a present, H. polonuku; nalo, lost, H. nano; nina soft to the touch, H. lina; lanau, to be sour-tempered, H. nanau.

N and NG.—A regular interchange of Maori and Hawaiian. Naha, to crack open as the ground, M. ngawha; nau, to chew, M. ngau, &c., &c., &c.

N and H.—See H and N ante.

N and M.—See M and N ante.

N and P.—Nuu, to swell up, H. puu.

N or NG Lost.—Naikola, to boast or glory over one, H. aikola; lai, the sky, H. lani, M. rangi.

L (or R) and W.—Poweko, eloquent, H. poleko.

L (or R) and N.—See N and L ante.

L and K (T).—See K and L ante.

L (or R) Lost.—Koali, to turn round, H. koai, wau, to scrape, M. waru; pakeaai, a glutton, H. pakelaai.

P and M.—See M and P ante.

P and H.—See H and P ante.

P and N.—See N and P ante.

P and K.—See K and P ante.

P Lost.—Peheu, the wing of a bird, H. eheu; ponaha, circular, H. onaha; puha, to hawk up mucus in the throat, H, uha; puke, to strike, H. uke; pulu, wet, H. ulu.

W and U.—Wila, lightning, H. uila; naueue, to vibrate, H. nawewe; ualaau, to cry out, H. walaau.

W Lost.—Lauwili, unstable, H. lauili.

W Added.—Hua, to be jealous, H. huwa; uai, to open or shut as a door, H. uwai; uao, to interfere, H. uwao; uahi, a cloud, H. uwahi; ue, to jerk, H. uwe; ui, to wring H. uwi; uo, to cry out, H. uwo; aue, alas! H. auwe; wau, I, M. au; kauo, to haul a load, H. kauwo; wewe, the placenta, M. ewe; huua, full, H. huuwa; pupua, a blossom, H. pupuwa; laoa, to bundle up, H. laowa.


In the following examples the Tongan word is written first, the related Tongan or Maori word (marked T. or M.) following.


Eiki, a chief, M. ariki; efiafi, evening, M. ahiahi; elelo, the tongue, M. arero; eku, my. M. aku; mamahi, pain, M. mamae; ofato, the name of an insect, M. awhato; unufi, the caterpillar, M. anuhe; fefie, firewood, M. wahie; mele, to cough, M. mare; luo, a cave, M. rua; tagamimi, the bladder, M. tongamimi; tokoto, to lie down, M. takoto; malu, soft, T. molu soft; kemo, to wink, M. kimo; kofu, a garment, M. kahu.


H and K.—Hake, to ascend, M. kake; habu, the banana leaf tied at each end to hold water, M. kapu (?).

H and R.—Uhiuhi, dark blue, M. uriuri; bibihi, to cleave to, M. pipiri

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H and F.—Efiafi, evening, M. ahiahi; hifo, down, M. iho; afi, fire, M. ahi; fuji, to deplume, M. huti.

H and S.—Tuha, equal, T. tusa.

H Lost.—Agai, the corresponding opposite, M. hangai.

H Inserted.—Hake, upwards, M. ake; hala, a road, M. ara; hifo down, M. iho; uha. rain, M. ua; haamo, to carry on the shoulders, M. amo; lohu, a forked stick used for twisting off bread fruit, M. rou; toho, to drag, M. to; haku, my, M. aku; hiva, nine, M. iwa; honge, scarce, M. onge; vahe, to divide, M. wawae; fuhi, a bunch, M. hui.

K and H.— See H and K ante.

K and N.—Hoko, to apply, to join, M. hono.

K and T—Tatava, sour, M. Kawa; iki, small, M. iti; fekilokilofaki, to stare about. (M. probably a compound of tiro, to look. It is the more curious because the Tongan comparative of tiro is jio.)

K and G (NG).—Gauafi, a fire stick, M. kauahi.

K Inserted.—Kau, I, M. au.

K Lost.—Aitoa, an expression of pleasure at the misfortunes of another, M. kaitoa.

M and B.—Bahabaha, light, not heavy, M. màmà; malu, loose, soft, M. paru.

B and P.— Regular interchange of Tongan and Maori. Ba, a fence, M. pa; baba, a board, M. papa,; bae, a sill, M. pae, &c., &c.

V and W.— Regular interchange of Maori and Tongan. Vale, foolish, M. ware; valu, eight, M. waru, &c., &c.

M and B.— See B and M ante.

N and L (R).—Neka, joy, M. reka; nunu, to gather together, M. ruru; nima, five, M. rima.

L and R.— Regular interchange between Maori and Tongan. Leto, inside, M. roto, &c., &c.

F and R.—Fuga, high, M. runga.

F and WH.— Regular interchange between Maori and Tongan. Fa, to feel after, M. wha; faji, to break, M. whati, &c., &c.

P and S.—Sai, good, M. pai.

L (R) Lost.—Tamaiki, children, M. tamariki; mui, behind, M. muri; ama, a torch, M. rama; ogo, to hear, M. rongo; ua, two, M. rua; uku, to dive, M. ruku; jio, to look, M. tiro; uiui, black, M. uriuri; tui, the knee, M. turi; vau, to scrape, M. waru.

J and T.—Tamajii, a small boy, M. tamaiti; oji, to be finished, M. oti; koji, to cut with scissors, M. koti; fuijijili, a thunderbolt, M. whaitiri and whatitiri; faji, to break, M. whati; jio, to look, M. tiro; mimiji, to suck, M. miti; fuji, to deplume, M. huti.


The Rarotongan of this dictionary also includes Mangaian. No dictionary or vocabulary of the Hervey Islands dialect is procurable, but one is now in course of construction by the Rev. W. Wyall Gill, B. A., and students of Polynesian are looking forward with interest to the completed work of this devoted scholar and historian. Until the book can be obtained, any attempt to classify the irregular letter-changes would be premature. A constant difference from Maori and most other Polynesian dialects is the complete absence of the letter H in Rarotongan. Thus: Inu, oil, M hinu; ara, a sin, M. hara; maara, to think, M. mahara, &c. So strongly is this dislike of the aspirate maintained, that words spelt in Maori with wh (the Polynesian f), lose the w also in Rarotongan; e.g., a, four, M. wha, Samoan fa; anau, to be born, M. whanau, &c., &c.


In the following examples the Marquesan word precedes, and the related Maori word (marked M.) follows.


Etua, a god, M. atua; meama, the moon, M. marama; metaki, wind, M. matangi; menino, calm, M. marino; metau, a hook, M. matau; tehito, old, M. tawhito; tuehine, sister, M. tuahine; tekahi, to trample, M. takahi; vehie, firewood, M. wahie; vehine, a woman, M. wahine; kouvae, the chin, M. kauwae; toua, war, M. taua; toua, a rope, M. taura; mounu, bait, M. maunu; pootu, elegant, M. purotu; tokete, brother-in-law, M. taokete; kaake, the armpit, M. keke; tokoau, the north-east, M. tokerau.


H and R.—piahiahi, clear, M. piari.

H and W.—Haha, the mouth, M. waha.

H and WH.—Hataa, shelves, M. whata; hati, to break, M. whati; hatiitii, thunder, M. whatitiri.

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K and T.—Makamakaiima, a finger (M.L. = matamataririma).

K and NG.—Haka, to work, M. hanga; hoki, to smell, to kiss, M. hongi; iki, to spill, M. ringi; ikoa, a name, M. ingoa; inaka, the name of a small fish, M. inanga; kaahu, charcoal, M. ngarahu; kahae, a tear, a rent, M. ngahae; kaveka, a burden, M. kawenga; mako, the shark, M. mango; oko, to listen, M. rongo; potako, a dark night, M. potangotango.

K lost.—Ate-puapua, the lungs (M. pukapuka); haa-metau, to fear, M. whaka-mataku; imi, to seek. M. kimi; inai, a relish, M. kinaki; inoino, a bad man, M. kino; paa, ripe, M. paka; umete, a chest, a box, M. kumete; upeka, a net, M. kupenga.

R Lost.—This is almost absolutely lost. Paaoa, a Sperm-whale, M. paraoa; poi, a tribe, M. pori; tao, the taro plant, M. taro; iki, to pour out, M. ringi; ekaeka, pleasure, M. rekareka, &c., &c.

V and W.— A regular interchange between Marquesan and Maori. Vehine, a woman, M. wahine, &c., &c.

M and P.—Moupuna, a grandchild. Marquesan also poupuna (Maori, mokopuna).

N and NG.—Na, the (plural article), M. nga; nutu, the head (probably M. ngutu).

N and R.—Menino, calm, M. marino; nino, to spin, M. rino.


In the following examples the Mangarevan word precedes the explanation, and the Maori word (marked M.) follows.


Tekere, a keel, M. takere; teito, ancient, M. tawhito; tepeiru, a queen, M. tapairu; teturi, wax in the ear, M. taturi; vehie, firewood, M. wahie; veine, a wife, M. wahine; enuhe, a caterpillar, M. anuhe; erero, language, M. arero (tongue); kerere, a messenger, M. karere; megeo, to itch, M. mangeo; merigi, to spill, M. maringi; merino, calm, M. marino; nenea, to abound M. nanea; pehau, a wing, M. pahau; pererau, a wing, M. parirau; peremo, drowned, M. paremo; ruehine, an old woman, M. ruahine; karou, a hook, M. karau; koumatua, an old man, M. kaumatua; kouae, the jaw, M. kauae; noumati, summer, M. raumati; kourima, a fire-stick, M. kaurimarima; mohore, peeled, M. mahore; mohora, expanded, M. mahora; moto, raw, M. mata; motua, father, M. matua; mounu, bait, M. maunu; hue, to collect, M. hui; tuhuga, skilled, M. tohunga; tohuhu, a ridge-pole, M. tahuhu; aka-tokoto, to lay, to place, M. whaka-takoto; tohuri, upside down, M. tahuri; toua, war, M. taua; toumaha, an offering, M. taumaha; toutoru, Orion (a constellation), M. tautoru.


H and R.—Tiho, to examine, M. tiro.

H and K.—Aka-makara, to think upon, M. whaka-mahara.

H Lost.—Uhuti, to pull up by the roots, M. huhuti; uha, the thigh, M. huwha; uka, foam from the mouth, M. huka; una, to hide, M. huna; oa, a friend, M. hoa; oaga, a whetstone, M. hoanga; ogi, to kiss, M. hongi; oha, wearied, M. hoha; oko, to barter, M. hoko; ono, to join, M. hono; aea, when, M. ahea; anga, to work, M. hanga; ape, a crooked foot, M. hape; amama, to yawn, M. hamama; amu, to eat scraps, M. hamu; ana, heat, M. hana; ari, to carry, M. hari; iga, to fall, M. hinga; inaki, a fish-basket, M. hinaki; kou, low clouds, M. kohu; maana, warm, M. mahana.

K and NG.—Ngiengie, the pandanus, M. kiekie (a related plant).

K Added.—Aka-kata, a mirror, M. whaka-ata.

K Lost.—Aumatua, old, M. kaumatua; ave, trailers, rope, &c., M. kawe; inaki, a relish, M. kinaki.

M and P.—Oho-pangu, black hair, (pangu = M. mangu, black). Urupatiu, west a quarter-south, and urupatoga, south a-quarter-west (the pa here = M. ma, and).

M Lost.—Kakaraea, red ochre (Paumotan and M. karamea).

N and R (or L).—Aka-tino, to look at, M. whaka-tiro; noumati, summer, M. raumati.

P and M.— See M and P ante.

R and N.— See N and R ante.

R Lost.—Ehu, ashes, Polynesian generally, rehu.

V and W.— A regular interchange between Mangarevan and Maori. Ivi, a bone, M. iwi; iva, nine, M. iwa, &c., &c.

W (V) Lost.—Aha, the mouth, M. waha.

V and WH.—Vio, to whistle, M. whio.

WH Lost.—Angai, to feed, M. whangai; ahao, to put in a bag, M. whawhao; etu, a star, M. whetu; ariki, a mat, M. whariki; ati, to break, M. whati; atutiri, thunder, M. whatitiri; ea, where? M. whea; eke, the octopus, M. wheke; enua, shallows, M. whenua (land); itu, seven, M. whitu.

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This dialect, although in bulk Polynesian, has been “crossed” with some foreign tongue in a very remarkable manner. The numerals and many of the vital words are utterly strange to the Maori linguist; but, on the other hand, the Polynesian words have been preserved with great purity of sound and accuracy of meaning. The following examples may serve to show the presence of the foreign element. The Paumotan word is placed first, and the related Maori word (marked M.) follows.

Upoupo, heart (mind), M. ngakau; nimo, heart of a tree, M. uho; hipa, to see, M. kite; veke, a fault, M. hara; pepenu, a head, M. upoko; kama, stupid, M. kuware; togari, sweat, M. kakawa; utari, to follow, M. whai; pouru, a kidney, M. whatukuhu; keka, a road, M. ara; toau, salt, M. mataitai; konao, stone, M. kowhatu; aveke, canoe, M. waka; touiti, rain, M. ua; touo, egg, M. hua; keiga, bone, M. iwi; kave, nephew, M. iramutu; tarena, sinew, M. uaua; paku, cloud, M. kapua; kavake, moon, M. marama; tate, fish-hook, M. matau; mori, oil, M. hinu; kerikeri, the liver, M. ate; puka forest, M. ngahere; tuetue, large, M. nui; teke, fruit, M. hua; kaihora, smoke, M. auahi; niganiga, mud, M. paru; neki, korure, rotika, fire, M. ahi, kapura; orari (o rari), one, M. tahi; eite (e ite), two, M. rua; egeti (e geti), three, M. toru; eope (e ope), four, M. wha; ekeka, emiha (e keka, e miha), five, M. rima; ehena; ehene (e hene), six, M. ono; ahito (a hito), seven, M. whitu; ehava (e hava), eight, M. waru; enipa (e nipa), nine, M. iwa; horihori, ten, M. tekau; makaro, son, M. tama; viru, good, M. pai; manemanea, finger, M. matihao; komo, water, M. wai; titi, slave, M. taurekareka, pononga; kaifa, husband, M. tane; mahoi, horohoro, spirit, soul, M. wairua; kamoke, to count, M. tatau; kega, ladder, M. arawhata; tapurena, ashes, M. pungarehu; manania, girl, M. hine, kotiro; morire, woman, M. wahine; paneke, fat, M. momona.

These words, however, are few compared with the Polynesian words in the dialect, and themselves have the Polynesian phonology. In the following examples the Paumotan word precedes, and the related Maori word (marked M.) follows.


Motoro, adultery, M. matoro; hopoi, to lift, M. hapai; horau, a shed, M. wharau; marara, the flying-fish, M. maroro; ketaketa, solid, M. kita; kakalalo, the cockroaoh, M. kekereru; kuiru, the eel, M. koiro.


H and R.—Maohi, indigenous, M. maori; tohe, the anus, M. tore.

H Added.—Hoge, scarcity, M. oge; mahuga, a mountain, M. maunga; hanuhe, a caterpillar, M. anuhe.

H Lost.—Arai, to guide, M. arahi; poutu, to splash, M. pohutu.

K and NG.—Gutu, a louse, M. kutu.

K Added.—Reko, speech, M. reo.

M and P.—Parau, to speak, Paumotan marau.

M Lost.—Ote, to suok, M. mote.

N and R.—Kirokiro, vile, M. kino.

N and NG.—Rarani, a row or rank, M. rarangi.

R Added.—Ruruga, a bolster, M. urunga.

T Lost.—Tureirei, to pitch up and down, as a ship, M. turetireti.


The inhabitants of the Chatham Islands (which lie about 400 miles to the eastward of New Zealand) speak a corrupt form of Maori. It has been asserted that the Moriori are the autochthones of New Zealand driven forth by the Polynesian immigrants; but investigation proves them to have been of Polynesian speech and traditions. Their language is a sub-dialect of New Zealand Maori, differing little (save in a slovenly dropping of vowels) from that of their brothers on the larger islands. Exception must be made in two curious particulars. They have the tch sound as used in the Friendly Islands, and unknown in New Zealand: thus, the Maori word tamaiti, a child, is pronounced by the Moriori as tchimitchi. The other peculiarity is a very interesting and puzzling phenomenon in comparative philology, viz., that the Causative takes the form hoko, used in Eastern Polynesia, and not whaka (haka, aka, faka, fa‘a, &c.), common to New Zealanders, Samoans, Tongans, Rarotongans, &c.

The Moriori dialect has preserved in its long isolation some ancient and precious words lost to the vocabulary of New Zealand; except for this, it would hardly deserve notice as a separate dialect.


Many words of languages spoken in Oceania and the Malay Archipelago are presented in this Dictionary as being possibly related to Maori. It is by no means certain that they are Polynesian words adopted by the speakers, nor that the Polynesians have received the words from their neighbours, nor even that they had a common source; but as they resemble Polynesian in sound or sense

page xxiii

(sometimes in both), it is possible that they may throw light on some phase of meaning which has not been preserved elsewhere. They are valuable also for the tracing of letter-changes; but these letter-changes are so difficult to bring under law that no attempt is made in the present volume to arrange their multitudinous diversity.

Of these, however, the Fijian deserves a brief special notice. The language of the Fiji or Viti Islands contains Polynesian words to the extent of nearly a third of its whole vocabulary; the rest is derived from Melanesia and other sources foreign to the Maori people. With the exception of a regular change of v for Polynesian h (as vono, to join, Poly. hono; vou, new, Poly. hou, &c.), and a few irregular changes, as th (printed c) for k and h (thala, to err, M. hara; thalo, to scoop out, M. karo, &c.), s for t (gusu, the lip, M. ngutu), &c., the Polynesian words are pure and permanent.

Another Extra Polynesian language, that of Madagascar, is of special interest, on account of the great distance separating its speakers from those in whose tongue are found many kindred words. How far this kindred may be traced it is difficult to say; but it is certain that words having affinity in both sound and meaning may be found in Malagasy and Polynesian. It is probable that the real affinity is rather between Malay and Malagasy; but some words which modern Malays do not share with their brothers in the “Great African Island” appear to find relationship in the Polynesian vocabulary.

The absence of the vowel u in Malagasy necessitates the comparison of Polynesian words having either u or o; but the likeness is very apparent. In the following examples the Malagasy word is placed first, and the related Polynesian word (marked P.) follows.

Ovi, a yam, P. uwhi, or ufi; nao, thine, P. nau; havokavoka, the lungs, P. pukapuka; voy, the act of rowing, P. hoe, to paddle; volo, hair, P. hulu, or fulu, huru; voa, seed, P. hua, or fua, fruit; tona, an eel, P. tuna; roa, two, P. rua, or lua; rozirozi, weariness, P. ruhi, weary.

As an example how deceptively the letter-changes may cloak a real affinity, I will present the Malagasy word vorondolo, an owl, as equivalent to Maori ruru, an owl. Voro is used as an equivalent for “feathers,” the Polynesian huruhuru: the v (as in above examples) = h, and o = u. The Malagasy, however, use vorona as a general name for birds (probably i.e. “the feathered creatures”), as vorombola, a peacock; voromahailala, a pigeon. The nd of ndolo may be considered as equivalent to the Fijian, in which every d is nd; and as d is merely a form of r and l (dikydiky = likyliky; roa = Malay dua, &c.), and o = u, therefore dolo is a form of ruru. Thus voro-ndolo means “bird-ruru”; and unlikely as at first sight appears the relationship, it is probable.

On the other hand, I have not been able hitherto to trace even a possible affinity between Malagasy and Maori in more than one hundred words out of ten thousand in each language.

In Malay, the so-called affinities are disappointing as to the number a Polynesian scholar would expect to find, after having road the works of many writers who have boldly asserted the near relationship of the Malay and Polynesian languages, and after having heard the Maori so often spoken of as being a branch of the Malayo-Oceanic family. The numerals are only parallel as far as five; the Tagal and Malagasy being far more sympathetic. Many important Malay words, such as those for sky, fire, root, bill, eye, &c., resemble Polynesian, and are almost certainly related, but other vital words, such as sun, moon, mother, son, tree, smoke, &c., have no apparent likeness, and the bulk of the two vocabularies is not comparable. The resemblances of Polynesian to Malay words are often to Sanscrit and Arabic words which have been adopted into the Malay vocabulary. These remarks do not apply to all the languages spoken in the islands of the Malay Archipelago, where dialects are sometimes to be found having far greater affinity with Maori than the Malay of the mainland possesses.


Maori of N.Z. Samoan. Tahitian. Hawaiian. Tongan. Rarotongan. Marquesan. Mangarevan. Paumotan.
H S or F H H H Wanting H H H
K ‘ (a break) Wanting Wanting K K K K K
NG* G Wanting N G NG K G G
R L R L L R Wanting R R
WH F H or F H F Wanting F or H H F or H
page xxiv


Many words in common use among the Maori people of to-day will not be found in this Dictionary. These are words adopted from the Europeans, mainly for objects not indigenous to New Zealand, or unknown among the Natives prior to the advent of the strangers. Such words are hoiho, horse; kau, cow; poti, boat; Aperira, April; Tihema, December, &c., &c. The whole English Dictionary travestied into Maori form might have been introduced into the present work if any of these bastard words had been admitted; and the Author has been compelled to draw the line rigidly in favour of the pure and undefiled native language (so far as he has been able to distinguish it), and to avoid any use of adopted words.


A full Index to these will be found in the Appendix.

* Note.—Although NG is represented by G in Samoan, Tongan, Mangarevan, and Paumotan, this only applies to the written character. The G is nasalised, and is pronounced as NG.