11 Beautiful Māori Names and What They Mean

Māori wood carving
Māori wood carving | © pruzi / Pixabay
Thalita Alves

Te Reo Māori (the Māori language) is marked by beautiful words, proverbs and phrases that carry a lot of cultural and spiritual meaning. This notion prevails in every aspect of life — including in the traditional names that this indigenous New Zealand language has gifted us with. Here are 11 names that showcase this perfectly.

Aroha

Aroha means ‘love, compassion and empathy’. It is a girl’s name as well as being a term used in everyday conversations. Always roll your r‘s when enunciating Māori words: pronounce Aroha as ah-roh-huh.

Love

Ataahua

Another girl’s name that literally means ‘beautiful’ in Māori. Pronounce it as ah-taah-hoo-a.

Whetū

A girl’s name that literally means ‘star’. Sometimes, the word is used to describe celestial bodies like comets. Pronounce the ‘wh’ in Whetū like a soft ‘f’ sound: feh-too.

Starry sky, Otago, New Zealand

Kahurangi

Kahurangi can be a boy’s or a girl’s name. The word has multiple meanings, but as an adjective it often means ‘blue’, ‘prized’, or ‘precious’. Pronounce it as kah-hoo-ran-guee (for that last syllable, think of the word ‘guitar’ but with an elongated ‘ee’ sound).

Moana

A name that has been popular among Māori well before the Disney animated feature hit the screens. As you might guess, Moana means ‘ocean’ or ‘sea’. Pronounce this girl’s name as moh-ah-nah.

Sunset at Maori Bay, Auckland, New Zealand

Ngaio

A name derived from a small native tree found in coastal areas, though as a noun it can also mean ‘clever’ or ‘professional’. You might have heard this name before if you have a soft spot for crime — think of New Zealand writer Dame Ngaio Marsh. The ‘g’ is silent, and you should pronounce the ‘ai’ in Ngaio like the word ‘eye’: nai-oh.

Tangaroa

In Māori mythology, Tangaroa is the god of the sea and fish. Naturally, this is a boy’s name. Pronounce it as tahn-gah-roh-uh.

Traditional Māori Waka (Canoe)

Rongo

Rongo is the Māori name for ‘Saturn’, but it can also mean ‘peace after war’. It’s a boy’s name and is pronounced ron-go.

Marama

Marama is the ‘moon’, and can also mean ‘brightness’ or ‘clearness’. Pronounce this girl’s name as mah-ruh-muh.

Moonlight

Tāne

Tāne literally means ‘man’, and is also the name given to the Māori and Polynesian god of the forests. Pronounce it as taah-neh.

Tāwhiri

As a noun, tawhiri is a call of welcome. In Māori mythology, Tāwhiri-mātea is the god of the winds, storms, clouds, rain, hail and snow. Pronounce this boys’ name as taah-fee-ree.

Storm clouds over Aoraki/Mt Cook

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