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Browse the 1966 Encyclopaedia of New Zealand
Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.



The Word Maori

Williams in his Dictionary of the Maori Language records a number of meanings for the word Maori, the common one being normal, usual, ordinary, which is applied when talking of birds, trees, dogs, or men. Originally, therefore, maori tangata meant an ordinary man or a man native to the place in which he was living. If the pre-European Maori called himself anything, it could have been maori tangata. Early European visitors in their crude way abbreviated this to Maori and, although the term was in use before 1815, it did not appear in writing until 1850. Prior to this date the terms native or New Zealand were those used to indicate the native or aboriginal inhabitants of New Zealand, and it was not until the latter part of the nineteenth century that the term Maori came into common usage.


John Sidney Gully, M.A., DIP.N.Z.L.S., Assistant Chief Librarian, General Assembly Library, Wellington.

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