The Legal Māori Lexicon

The Legal Māori Lexicon: a wordlist of Māori language legal terms with English glosses

The Legal Māori Lexicon (LML) is a substantial list of Māori language legal terms with their English glosses that has been gathered alongside the final phase of the collation of the Legal Māori Corpus. The major task of the Legal Māori Project is to produce a dictionary of Legal Māori terms, and the LML is an important tool to the achievement of the forthcoming dictionary.

The Legal Māori Lexicon is available on the New Zealand Electronic Text Centre site.

Please note that the LML is not intended to be a dictionary in its own right, nor is an exhaustive list of all legal terms in the Māori language. Instead, it is a finder list of terms identified by looking for legal terms in areas where we felt, on reasonable grounds, that they were likely to occur. Inevitably there will be gaps in the LML, but it is a useful tool nonetheless and we look forward to expanding it as further terms are brought to our attention. Please note also that the LML terms are derived from across 181 years of legal texts. While the dictionary, when completed, will provide information to users about which terms are in current usage, the LML does not.

Legal Māori Terms

For the purpose of the Legal Māori Project we have defined a legal Māori term as:

  • a word or phrase that has at least one meaning where that meaning is closely related to Western legal concepts.

Legal terms in Māori are those terms used by fluent speakers of Māori for professional communication in Western legal contexts. These legal Māori terms form part of the specialised language used in the legal domain. These technical terms are complemented with more common words also often used in the legal domain, words that are typical of and occur more frequently in legal contexts than in the language in general. This vocabulary is useful too for those who use Māori to express legal meaning.