The Moriori Language of the Chatham Islands

Moriori is an East Polynesian language once spoken in the Chatham Islands (Rekohu) about 650km East of New Zealand. It is clearly closely related to Māori and both languages share a number of features not found in other Polynesian languages (Clark, 1994). This is suggests a shared history, which is supported by Māori traditions.

Unfortunately Moriori numbers were depleted by a Māori invasion in the 1820s. Language loss was quick, however a small number of Moriori texts survived. Most of the Moriori population today has Māori and European ancestry. For further details see Clark (1994) and King (2000).

Additional details on Moriori are available at Te Ara – The Encyclopedia of New Zealand.


Clark, R. 1994. Moriori and Māori: The Linguistic Evidence. In Sutton, D. (Ed.) The origins of the First New Zealanders (pp. 123-135). Auckland, New Zealand: Auckland University Press.

King, M. 2000. Moriori: A people rediscovered. (Rev. ed.). Auckland, New Zealand: Viking.


Last modified: 22 April 2019.

This page is Copyright © Peter J Keegan, PhD, 2003-2023.