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Moriori language

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Title: Moriori language  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Māori language, Flag of the Chatham Islands, Nukumanu language, Niuafoʻou language, Anuta language
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Moriori language

Native to New Zealand
Region Polynesia
Extinct 19th century
Language codes
ISO 639-3
Linguist list

Moriori is an extinct[1] Malayo-Polynesian language most closely related to New Zealand Māori. It is the native language of the Moriori, the indigenous people of the Chatham Islands (Rekohu in Moriori), which are east of New Zealand and under its sovereignty.


The invasion from Taranaki had a heavy impact on Moriori population, culture and language, with only 101 Moriori remaining in 1862,[2] and few speaking the language by the 1870s.[3] However, Samuel Deighton, Resident Magistrate on the Chathams from 1873 to 1891, compiled a short vocabulary of Moriori words, with their equivalents in Māori and English. The vocabulary was published as an appendix of Michael King's Moriori: A People Rediscovered.

The language was reconstructed for Barry Barclay's 2000 film documentary The Feathers of Peace,[4] in a recreation of Moriori contact with Pākehā and Māori.

In 2001, as part of a cultural revival movement, Moriori people began attempts to revive the language, and compiled a database of Moriori words.[5] There is a POLLEX (Polynesian Lexicon Project Online) database of Moriori words as well.[6]

The 2006 New Zealand Census showed 945 people choosing to include "Moriori" amongst their tribal affiliations, compared to 35 people in the 1901 census.[7]


  1. ^ "Maori: A language of New Zealand". 2005. Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Fifteenth edition. Retrieved 2007-03-27. 
  2. ^ Denise Davis & Māui Solomon (28 Oct 2008). "Moriori: The impact of new arrivals".  
  3. ^ King, Michael (1989). "Moriori: A People Rediscovered".  
  4. ^ "The Feathers of Peace (2000)" IMDb.
  5. ^ Denise Davis & Māui Solomon (28 Oct 2008). "Moriori: The second dawn".  
  6. ^ [1] Greenhill, SJ; Clark, R (2011). "POLLEX-Online: The Polynesian Lexicon Project Online". Oceanic Linguistics 50 (2): 551–559.  
  7. ^ Denise Davis & Māui Solomon (28 Oct 2008). "Moriori: Facts and figures".  

Further reading

  • Galbraith, Sarah. A Grammar of the Moriori language.
  • Clark, R. (1994). "Moriori and Maori: The Linguistic Evidence". In Sutton, D. (ed) The origins of the First New Zealanders. Auckland: Auckland University Press. pp. 123–135.
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