Māori language dictionary translates into good health

Toi Te Kupu teaches children about the importance of healthy food, a healthy body and a healthy mind.

Toi Te Kupu is a free renewed Māori-to-English and English-to-Māori dictionary about kai, cooking, our body and our mind. The resource was developed by the Heart Foundation and Toi Tangata to empower everyone in Aotearoa to have conversations with tamariki and mokopuna about the importance of food and health in te reo Māori.

“We are proud to partner with Toi Tangata to teach children about the importance of healthy food, a healthy body and a healthy mind. If it helps families start a conversation, share knowledge and live a healthy lifestyle, it can reduce their risk of developing heart disease,” Heart Foundation Chief Advisor Food and Nutrition, Dave Monro, says.

The book includes stories of the Māori gods or atua and the foods that pertain to the realms of atua like Tāne, Tangaroa, Haumia and Rongo. Words (kupu) for vegetables, nuts, fruits, legumes and pulses, breads and cereals, meat and eggs, dairy products, drinks and beverages and types of snacks are also included. Toi Te Kupu explains the digestive system, cooking and preparation methods and the kupu for cooking equipment.

“Teaching these kupu (words) to children so they grow up with the knowledge of both the te reo Māori and English translations allows all children to develop an understanding of the history, culture and language that underpins Aotearoa,” Monro says.

“From a holistic point of view, te reo Māori is the very heart or manawa of Māori culture and Toi Te Kupu encourages the use of te reo Māori when it comes to Māori heart health,” Megan Tunks, CEO of Toi Tangata, says.

As the National Māori Agency that promotes Māori approaches to physical activity and nutrition, Toi Tangata will put Toi Te Kupu to the test.

In a focus on Māori heart health in September, the Heart Foundation is also calling for more resources to tackle heart disease in the Māori community and it hopes this book can help start the conversation about how our kai and daily activity plays a role in preventing heart disease.

“The death rate for Māori from heart disease is more than two times that of non-Māori,” Heart Foundation Medical Director, Dr Gerry Devlin, says.

The new Toi Te Kupu 2020 edition is free and can be ordered online or downloaded here.

First published in 2014, the 2020 revision is funded by the One Foundation.