While New Zealand is considered an English speaking country, there is a great amount of Maori blended into the language. It is not uncommon to see signs with Maori names on them or for professors to greet their classes in Maori every morning. One particular Maori word that I have learned in my “History of New Zealand” class is “Mana.”
The first day my professor talked about Mana, I will be honest I was not certain how it was spelled. In fact, I have several spelling alternatives in my notebook including Muda, Muna, and Mader. Thankfully, I later learned that the correct spelling is M-A-N-A.
Mana is a considered a driving force of Maori society and refers to authority, prestige, reputation, influence, and pride. What I like in particular about Mana is the way it is believed to be gained. Mana is increased or decreased based on how one behaves towards other people. Being a good person, helping others, and cooperating with others are three ways in which Mana can be increased. What are we doing everyday to increase our Mana? Are we being kind to others? Being a team player? Showing others how much they mean to us?
Whether we believe we can, or not, each of us has the power to make a difference in someone else’s life. I like to think the “warm fuzzy” feeling that we get when helping others or knowing that we did the right thing is our Mana increasing!
Some other words that have come up frequently in classes or while exploring New Zealand include:
Whanau- extended family (the “wh” is pronounced as an “f”)
Kia Ora- Hi! Good day, welcome
Aotearoa- “Land of the Long white cloud” Maori name for New Zealand