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Illustrated Māori Dictionary by A. W. Reed



This updated version of a classic dictionary explains and illustrates essential Māori vocabulary for a new generation of New Zealanders.

Publisher and author A.W Reed and illustrator Roger Hart first created this book in 1965. The pair understood that pictures can provide an invaluable aid in the process of learning a new language. Then called Māori Picture Dictionary the book concisely explained the meaning and use of essential Māori words, with two drawings per page.


Now this classic has been reworked and has been reborn as the Illustrated Māori Dictionary. The expanded edition pays homage to the retro design style of the original.

Editor and translator Ross Calman (Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Toa, Kāi Tahu) has updated the text to reflect modern language usage. This also includes harmonisation of tohutō or macron, which Reed adopted early for the original book.


This dictionary is a fascinating glimpse into te reo Māori. While it gives definitions for each word, it also explores derivatives, giving a greater variety of associated meanings. Transliterated words (eg kapu for cup) are clearly marked with asterisk throughout.


Hart's illustrations are a fascinating glimpse back in time too. His drawings sing with detail - intricate details like moko, carvings and weaving are painstakingly captured, while his flora and fauna illustrations are simply beautiful. There's a hint of a humour too, with a particular favourite in our house the illustration of kore (nothingness).


All in all this is a fascinating dictionary for anyone at any stage of their te reo Māori learning journey. Another wonderful addition to Oratia's catalogue of te reo reference works, the publisher should be commended for bringing important books such as Illustrated Māori Dictionary back into print.


Reviewed by Rebekah Lyell

Oratia Books


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