Māori language dictionary in time for Māori language week

Toi Te Kupu is a renewed Māori-to-English and English-to- Māori dictionary about kai, cooking, our body and our mind. The resource was developed by the Heart Foundation and Toi Tangata to empower everyone in Aotearoa to have conversations with tamariki and mokopuna about the importance of food and health in te reo Māori.

“We are proud to partner with Toi Tangata to teach children about the importance of healthy food, a healthy body and a healthy mind. If it helps families start a conversation, share knowledge and live a healthy lifestyle, it can reduce their risk of developing heart disease,” says Heart Foundation Chief Advisor Food and Nutrition, Dave Monro.  

The book includes stories of the Māori gods or atua and the foods that pertain to the realms of atua like Tāne, Tangaroa, Haumia and Rongo. Words (kupu) for vegetables, nuts, fruits, legumes and pulses, breads and cereals, meat and eggs, dairy products, drinks and beverages and types of snacks are also included. Toi Te Kupu explains the digestive system, cooking and preparation methods and the kupu for cooking equipment.  

“Teaching these kupu (words) to children so they grow up with the knowledge of both the te reo Māori and English translations allows all children to develop an understanding of the history, culture and language that underpins Aotearoa,” says Dave. 

“From a holistic point of view, te reo Māori is the very heart or manawa of Māori culture and Toi Te Kupu encourages the use of te reo Māori when it comes to Māori heart health,” says Megan Tunks, CEO of Toi Tangata.

As the National Māori Agency that promotes Māori approaches to physical activity and nutrition, Toi Tangata will put  Toi Te Kupu to the test. 

“As part of the national campaign to mark the day and hour the Māori language petition was presented on the steps of parliament, Toi Tangata colleagues will hike up one of the Maunga in Tamaki Makaurau  at 12pm on Monday 14th September,  to conduct a short exercise session solely in te reo Māori,” says Toi Tangata Kaiārahi Darrio Penetito-Hemara. “Exercise and a healthy diet can reduce the risk of heart disease. 

In a focus on Māori heart health this month, the Heart Foundation is also calling for more resources to tackle heart disease in the Māori community and it hopes this book can help start the conversation about how our kai and daily activity plays a role in preventing heart disease.

“The death rate for Māori from heart disease is more than two times that of non-Māori,” says Heart Foundation Medical Director, Dr Gerry Devlin. 

The new Toi Te Kupu 2020 edition is free and can be ordered online or downloaded here.

First published in 2014, the 2020 revision is funded by the One Foundation. 


Heart disease at a glance:

  • Heart disease is New Zealand’s single biggest killer, claiming the lives of more than 6,700 New Zealanders every year – that’s more than one person every 90 minutes.
  • More than 170,000 New Zealanders are currently living with heart disease. 
  • Multiple strategies are needed to reduce the heart health inequities that currently exist for Māori, including funding for Māori led prevention activities
  • The Heart Foundation funds cutting-edge research and specialist training for cardiologists, while our education and prevention programmes address heart disease head-on in the community.
  • Toi Tangata is Toi Tangata is a Māori agency which develops, delivers, and champions kaupapa Māori based approaches to kori (physical activity) and kai (nutrition).

For more information contact: 

Simone Millar, Communications Manager, Heart Foundation 027 586 1139 simonem@heartfoundation.org.nz 

Toni Pivac, National Communications Adviser, Toi Tangata 021 1737 221 toni@toitangata.co.nz