The word ‘manaakitanga’ comes from New Zealand’s  Māori language,  It is a noun used to describe qualities and principles derived from the verb ‘manaaki’.

Manaaki is about looking after others by extending respect, hospitality, generosity, warmth, and care to them in a way that both honours them and enhances your own reputation.

The traditional value of manaakitanga in Māori culture is the foundation of the unique Kiwi-style hospitality that makes a New Zealand visit so memorable.

When selling a holiday to New Zealand you can explain to your clients that New Zealanders want visitors to have a great time in their country and will go to great lengths to ensure they do.  New Zealanders have a reputation for being friendly and welcoming, which comes from an indigenous Māori custom called manaakitanga, which is based on the belief that your mana, or reputation, is enhanced by extending respect and hospitality to visitors by welcoming them and looking after them like they are part of your family.

For New Zealanders, being hospitable, looking after visitors and caring how others are treated - no matter what their standing in society - is of prime importance.

When we greet people you will often hear the words 'Kia Ora'! But what does it mean?  Watch this short video to find out.

When saying the word manaaki, pronounce the ‘a’ as you would in the word ‘car’ and the ‘ki’ like you would in ‘car key’ – so phonetically it sounds something like ma-naa-key.
To hear the word ‘manaakitanga’ spoken click here to go to a Māori online dictionary.

What does Manaakitanga feel like to a visitor?

  • They will feel welcome.
  • They will be treated more like a new friend than a stranger.
  • New Zealander’s will go out of their way to make sure they are well looked after.
  • Mutual respect - Manaakitanga encompasses reciprocal hospitality and respect from one individual or group to another.  It also acknowledges the mana of others as having equal or greater importance than your own, through the expression of ‘aroha’, (love, hospitality, generosity) and mutual respect.  In doing so, all parties are elevated and the host status is enhanced, creating unity between the host and visitor through humility and the act of giving.
  • Food and rest - It is important in Māori culture that hosts provide food and rest for visitors, and that guests be treated with respect at all times - and manaakitanga is shown in many ways, especially evident on the tribal ‘marae’ (meeting place).  Māori consider that whatever the gathering or activity, it should be remembered with fondness and gratitude by those who attended. In New Zealand, it is common for hosts to treat their guests to local delicacies, for which their area is well-known.  This tradition also revolves around what is available seasonally in the area, and could include particular kinds of seafood such as pāua (abalone), kina (sea urchin), tuangi (cockles), river and lake food such as tuna (eel), tuna korokoro (lamprey), forest food like karaka berries, aruhe (fernroot), harvested food such as pūhā (sow thistle), kumara (sweet potato), kamokamo (squash), and birds like tītī (muttonbird).
So whether it's the nation of New Zealand hosting thousands of international visitors from around the world for a major sports event, or an individual on their own self-drive exploration, it is the spirit of manaakitanga that makes a New Zealand holiday unique.


As is the case with many Māori words - the meaning of manaakitanga is much broader than a one word or direct translation.

It can be broken down into three parts: 

mana which is about one’s honour, integrity, authority, dignity and reputation.  From a Māori world view all people have some inherent mana derived from their ancestry and connection with land and deities.  Your mana is strongest when you are located on your own lands where you hold authority.  When visiting the lands of others it is expected that you recognise their authority and submit to their mana. Mana can be further enhanced or diminished by your deeds - the things you do and how you treat others.  So when visitors enter your land, you enhance your mana by looking after them well.

mana-ā-ki which loosely translates as 'the power of the word' and reminds hosts to be expressive and fluent in welcoming visitors.

ki te tangata meaning ‘to the people - pointing out the importance of enhancing the mana which covers the integrity, status, prestige, and power of guests’

New Zealanders enhance our mana as a nation by the way we treat visitors.