A language of New Zealand

Alternate Names
New Zealand Maori

148,000 in New Zealand (2013 census). 100,000 understand but do not speak it (1995 Maori Language Commission); 30,000–50,000 adult speakers over 15 years old (1995). Population total all countries: 148,660. Ethnic population: 599,000 (2013 census).


Far north, North Island, east coast.

Language Maps
Language Status

6b (Threatened). Statutory language of national identity (1987, Maori Language Act, No. 176, Article 3), legal domains mostly.


Bay of Plenty, Moriori, North Auckland, Rotorua-Taupo, South Island, Taranaki, Wanganui. Formerly fragmented into regional dialects, some of which diverged quite radically from what became the standard dialect. Lexical similarity: 71% with Hawaiian [haw], 57% with Samoan [smo].



Language Use

Until 20th century, Maori was spoken throughout New Zealand. There is a recent reluctance of the young generation to use Maori (Wurm 2007). Mainly adult speakers. 100% also use English [eng].

Language Development
322 government-funded Maori language schools, including preschool. New media. Grammar. Bible: 1858–1952.

Latin script [Latn].

Other Comments

Moriori dialect in Chatham Islands has no remaining speakers. Christian.