Te Reo With Mnemonics: Government Words

Government – kāwanatanga

A Government official, in charge of the Government car fleet, instructs a subordinate in a fancy uniform to “Give Car One a tonguing”.

Ministry – manatū

A Government official comes out of a tall building and says “We’re the Ministry of Taxes… and money, too!”

Minister – minita

A man in a suit buys an icecream from a stand. The girl holds up two cones and says “Maxi or mini, Minister?” The man says “Mini, ta.”

Office, Department – tari

Inside a WINZ office, there is tar everywhere: all over the floors and computers. The office is very tarry.

Responsibility, responsible – haepapa

A boy looks at a field strewn with hay and asks his father “Hey, Papa, who’s responsible for this?”

General Election – pōtitanga whānui

A child sits on a potty with its tounge sticking out. It is the potty tonguer. A man says “This General Election I think the best choice is the potty tonguer, far and away.”

The Māori word for ‘to corrupt’ – pōriro – shares a ‘pō’ and ‘ri’ sound with the English word ‘porridge’

Election, vote – pōti

A sign outside a porta-potty says “Election Today! Vote Here!”

Rebellion, Revolt, Revolution – whananga

Hone Heke is giving a speech, he promises to rebel “far and near”.

to corrupt – pōriro

A waitress pours some water into a man’s porridge. He gets up and complains “Now it’s corrupted!”

Officer, Official – āpiha

A man in uniform salutes a man behind a desk and says “Officer Pea Heart, reporting for duty.” The man behind the desk rises and says “Ah, Pea Heart…”

to agree, to assent, Permission – whakaae

Both seated at a desk, a woman shows a man a contract and asks “Do you agree?” He replies: “Fucken A!”

Chieftainship, Sovereignty, Authority – rangatiratanga

A chief is giving a speech to a war party. He holds up a gold ring and says “By the authority vested in me through my possession of this ring, tear a tongue!”


The above is an excerpt from the upcoming Learn Maori Vocabulary With Mnemonics, by Jeff Ngatai, due to be published by VJM Publishing in the summer of 2018/19.

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