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Mouri matters: Contextualizing mouri in Māori health discourse

Mera Penehira, Linda Tuhiwai Smith, Alison Green, Clive Aspin


The vision statement of Te Reo o Taranaki, “Tuku reo, tuku mouri: language, culture, crossing generations”, embodies the essence of an understanding of mouri which goes beyond the simple dictionary translations of “life force” or “life essence”. Indeed, there are numerous oral narratives—whakataukī (proverbs), waiata (songs), haka (dance), karanga (ceremonial call), whaikōrero (formal speech), karakia (prayers and incantations)—from the present day to our earliest records of Māori history that engage the notion of mouri. The purpose of this paper is to examine current understandings of mouri and, by linking the concept with linguistic, cultural and intergenerational terms—as in the Taranaki example—it will be argued that mouri is something of significance to our “being” and to our wellbeing.

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Print ISSN 1177-1801 Online ISSN 1174-1740