May 11, 2021

Maori News & Indigenous Views

Te Taura Whiri Guidelines for Spelling and Writing Maori – 2009

2 min read

It has been over fifteen years since Te Taura Whiri’s orthographic conventions underwent a major review. As the language has been in a state of flux, so too have the rules determining how it should be written. To help guide the revision of the conventions, major reference works in Maori, speakers, scholars and publishers of Maori, were consulted.

The resulting guidelines set out what Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Maori considers to be current best practice. It aims to provide an easy-to-follow guide that promotes consistency in the use of written Maori and standards for publication. It is hoped that these conventions will be followed by writers and publishers of Maori, as well as those who are teaching and learning Maori.

Although there is a high degree of consistency between what is recommended here and the conventions followed for Te Taura Whiri’s recently published dictionary, He Pataka Kupu, and those too that were followed in the 1971 edition of Williams’ Dictionary of the Maori Language, there will be instances where those documents, and other authorities, are not in line with what is set out here. It is recommended however that the rules provided here override those in other reference books.

Te Taura Whiri recommends He Pataka Kupu as the primary reference when checking how words should be spelled. For words that do not appear there, it recommends the latest edition of Williams’ Dictionary of the Maori Language.  For new, specialised terms, other specialist glossaries should be consulted. For example, Te Reo Pangarau (Te Tahuhu o te Matauranga, 2004) for mathematics vocabulary, and Te Reo Pataiao (Te Tahuhu o te Matauranga, due for publication in September 2009) for science vocabulary.

For guidance with the use of macrons in names, searching individual names in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography ( and Te Ara ( websites will prove useful. The New Zealand Historical Atlas (David Bateman Ltd, 1997) is another reliable source.

Click on the following resources:

4 thoughts on “Te Taura Whiri Guidelines for Spelling and Writing Maori – 2009

  1. Guidelines for teaching and learning Samoan
    Saturday, 19 September 2009, 1:59 pm
    Press Release: New Zealand Government

    Hon Georgina te Heuheu
    Minister of Pacific Island Affairs

    18 September 2009

    Guidelines and a new multi-media resource for the teaching and learning of Samoan were launched by the Minister of Pacific Island Affairs Georgina te Heuheu in Auckland today.

    Taiala mo le Gagana S?moa: The Gagana S?moa Guidelines provide a framework for an additional language in early childhood services, primary and secondary schools.

    Mua ?! An Introduction to Gagana S?moa is aimed at students in years 7-10 and it provides a range of entry-level resources for teachers and students new to languages.

    Mrs te Heuheu said the promotion of language, culture and identity are central to the goals of the Pasifika Education Plan. Learning languages is one of the eight essential learning areas of The New Zealand Curriculum. Guidelines have been produced to support the teaching and learning of Tongan, Niue, Tokelau, Cook Islands M?ori and now Samoan.

    The guidelines and resources will be used by schools in New Zealand to design and shape a language programme to include gagana Samoa and acknowledge its value.

    About 150 people attended the launch at Tangaroa College in Otara. About 50% of students at Tangaroa are Samoan.

    More than 130,000 people in New Zealand identify as Samoan and Samoan is the third most spoken language in New Zealand.

    The National Government recognises the value of language and culture to the cohesion and well being of Samoan communities, Mrs te Heuheu said.

    “And in relation to Samoan young people, language and culture are essential to their educational achievement and identity.”

  2. Kia ora,

    I couldn’t open the link for ‘Te Taura Whiri’s Guidelines for Spelling and Writing Māori – 2009’.
    Will you be able to send me another link to this?
    The Maori worked.

    Anyhow, I’ve been hooked on to Tangata.whenua newsletters for more than 5 years now I think, and It’s such a useful tool and resource for me and my whanau, and in work and studies. Now there’s a site for us to access, which is even better!
    Nga mihi nui ki a koutou Potaua me to tira whakatere i teneki kaupapa!

    Naku iti nei,
    na Te Ingo.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.