Top tips: Tekau te reo words you should use in the workplace.

Troy Brockbank (Te Rarawa, Ngāti Hine, Ngāpuhi) is a Kaitohutohu Matua Taiao/Senior Environmental Consultant with WSP. During Māori Language Week, ACE New Zealand caught up with Troy to learn how easy it is to incorporate te reo into our working life. Check out these tekau Māori words that everyone in the engineering and consultancy sectors should learn.


Most people think of this as genealogy, but it’s really about laying connections (lit. layering of the earth). We can relate to this in terms of a project. Whakapapa relates to where a project comes from, the history of the project, the history of a site, and our connections to the site and the haukāinga (home people). 


This relates to protection, stewardship and guardianship. The main word is “tiaki” which means to protect. So “Kaitiakitanga” is about our obligation to protect the environment that we live in and the protection of each other.  


Being hospitable towards each other, making sure we care for each other and look after each other. Manaakitanga is such a fundamental thing in Maoridom as it’s more powerful to care for someone than it is to take from. It is about sharing wealth and knowledge with those who require it. 


Relationships/Connections, the action of making a familyThink of this as a relationshipor a partnership where you are forming connections with each other, companies and projects. 


You will often hear this as Mātauranga Māori, which means Māori knowledge. It is not just about traditional knowledge but can be about everyday knowledge which is generally a combination of western science and indigenous knowledge.  


The Māori name for an engineer. 


Authority, power, respect. This has almost become part of everyday language. Mana it is made up of two words – ma (by) and na (for). Mana is about giving respect; by showing respect to a person or a thing, you give them/it the mana. On the flip side, disrespecting someone or something takes away the mana.  


Wellbeing or a life forceI think it is essential that engineers understand mauri and be able to incorporate it into their designs. No matter what happens, you should always be enhancing mauri –  mauri of the environment, mauri of the people and mauri of the hāpori (community). As an engineer, we should never put ourselves in a position where our designs and our work are not enhancing mauri. 


This is one of my favourite words and has real meaning for budding engineers. You may have grown up with people who told you to have a tutū or play around with something. When I was growing up as an engineer, I would pull things apart to see what made them tick and try and make them better. I was the haututū (mischievous child). Being a tutū is part of being an engineer. 


To be challenged. The challenge in an engineering sense is kia taha ake or give it a go. That’s what we have been talking about in this blog – Kia Kaha Te Reo Māori – give it a go and make Te Reo Māori strong. 

You can read the full article on ACE New Zealand’s website.

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