Māori vocab list to help spread unity

11:54 am on 20 March 2019

A woman determined to spread messages of unity following the Christchurch attacks has compiled a list of te reo Māori translated into English for all New Zealanders to learn.

Meena Kadri, who has ancestors who were Muslim, is one of many people doing their bit to make the coming days and weeks easier for New Zealanders still grappling with Friday's tragedy.

"Words have the power to go straight to peoples' hearts and it's important that we choose the words that we speak, especially given that there are people in New Zealand that can no longer speak.

"We were all going through an amount of shock and grief on the back of the news last Friday and I remembered something that I got told by a former colleague ... Paul Bennett [who] said that you should never waste a disaster, and he meant that in the best of possible terms.

"What I took from what he said is that we have a duty to help people focus on things that are purposefully positive, so I was trying to think of what I could do to focus my own energy and grief and emotion in a way that was hopeful."

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Meena Kadri has formally been learning te reo Māori since 2016. Photo: RNZ / screenshot

Meena Kadri has been learning te reo Māori formally since 2016 and got in touch with her former reo teacher Te Ataahia Castorina after hearing of the terror attacks in Christchurch.

Sharing words which celebrated unity was one way to cope with the tragedy, she said.

"I didn't have much sleep on Friday and I could feel myself getting really scattered and doing something like this has helped me focus.

"Now I'm finding that people are reaching out to have conversation to me and to other people because of this and I feel stronger to be able to welcome those conversations."


  • kotahitanga - unity
  • manaakitanga - care
  • hapori - community
  • aroha - love
  • whānau - family
  • māia - courage
  • kia kaha - be strong
  • tautoko - support
  • mahi tahi - working together
  • kaitiakitanga - protection

Click on the link to find the list here.

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