What’s your favourite kupu?

What’s your favourite kupu?

As it’s Māori Language Week, we asked people from around Te Papa to share their favourite te reo Māori kupu (word). We want to hear what yours is too! Let us know in the comments.


Meaning: To assist, help, support, benefit

‘This word sums up the mahi (work) that my team National Services Te Paerangi does around the motu (country). Therefore it’s my favourite word. I really believe in the work that we do and love seeing communities connecting to taonga and stories.’

– Victoria, Head of National Services Te Paerangi


Meaning: Smile!

– Moana, Kaitiaki Māori Collection Manager

Victoria (left) Moana (right), 2018. Te Papa


Meaning: To listen, hear, obey

– Rangimoana, Tour Host


Meaning: To caress, nurture, look after

‘I was introduced to this word by our Māori writer Ranea when he was coming up with the te reo Māori interpretations of common agile terms. ‘Te āta morimori’ means ‘high care’, based on ‘morimori’ meaning to take care of something, to nurture it. It feels like a word full of passion and love for whatever is in your hands, be it a child or something you are working on.’

– Daniel, Senior Digital Editor

Rangimoana (left) Daniel (right), 2018. Te Papa


Meaning: Digital

‘Matimati (fingers/digits) + hiko (electricity) = digital!’

– Haley, Education Specialist


Meaning: To tend carefully, foster, attend to, care for, cherish

‘Kumanu is a new word for me. It’s ideal to use when looking after someone who is sick. E kumanu ana ahau i tōku hoa/ I’m looking after my friend.’

– Joan, Kaiako

Haley (left) Joan (right), 2018. Te Papa


Meaning: Dinosaur

‘I learnt two extra words when I found out what the te reo was for dinosaur. One meaning of the kupu ‘moko’ is lizard, and ‘nui’ means big – so big lizard!’

– Rachael, Digital Editor

Toi kākahu

Meaning: Wearable art

‘It’s that time of year again, te wiki o te reo Māori and WOW is gonna hit Pōneke next month. Put ‘em together & whaddya get? Toi kākahu!’

– Paora, Iwi Development Advisor

Rachael (left) Paora (right), 2018. Te Papa


Meaning: Essential force, excitement, thrill, power, charm, personal magnetism

– Chloe, Graphic Designer


Meaning: To dance!

– Kate, Media Producer

Chloe (left) Kate (right), 2018. Te Papa

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