A language of New Zealand

Alternate Names
New Zealand Maori, te reo
te reo Māori

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). Ethnic population: 599,000 (2013 census). Total users in all countries: 159,700.


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.


North Auckland, South Island, Taranaki, Wanganui, Bay of Plenty, Rotorua-Taupo, Moriori. 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].


VSO; prepositions; noun head final; dual number; definite and indefinite articles; passives; 10 consonants, 10 vowels, 7 diphthongs; non-tonal; stress on first long vowel or diphthong.

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). Some young people, all adults. All also use English [eng] (Wurm 2007).

Language Development

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


Latin script [Latn].

Other Comments

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

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