Maramatanga names: Arorangi, Natura, Whakahawea

The Maramatanga movement is a Christian Maori movement that began on New Zealand’s North Island in the early 1900s. The word maramatanga means “clarity” or “lightness.”

Anthropologist Karen Sinclair spent several decades studying the group and mentions a few Maramatanga baby names in her book about the movement:

  • Kororia means “glory.”
  • Kaperiere is the Maori version of Gabriel.
  • Whakaaronui means “be mindful.”
  • Arorangi: “One child was named Arorangi for a tree. This is a humble tree, rather ugly with a spiky leaf, but (revealing how misleading appearances can be) the leaves emit a very pleasant smell. Arorangi also means straight.”
  • Kohurangi means “mist of heaven” or “mist of the sky” and refers to a story about an early member of the religion, Anaera.
  • Whakahawea means “to disbelieve, to despise” and is a reminder that “people will always be very critical and harsh in their judgments.”
  • Natura means “from ngau tuara, to backbite” and is a “warning against behavior that would not be acceptable to the wairua” (spirit).

None of these are among the most popular Maori baby names in New Zealand right now.

Source: Sinclair, Karen. Maori Times, Maori Places: Prophetic Histories. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2002.

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