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Te Ao Takatāpui

Before Aotearoa was colonised by the British, Māori society was very open to gender and sexual diversity. People of all genders were included and celebrated, as were their relationships with people of all genders. 

What does it mean to be takatāpui?

Takatāpui is a te reo Māori term that traditionally means ‘intimate companion of the same sex.’ Today, it's used in a similar way to LGBTQ+ to refer to people from Māori rainbow communities. Takatāpui is a term specifically for those who are Māori.

The word takatāpui ties a person’s identity as Māori to their sex, gender, and sexuality. In te ao Māori, takatāpui inherit their gender and sexuality from their tūpuna (ancestors). Not all who are Māori and have a diverse gender and/or sexuality will use the kupu (word) takatāpui. They may use hapū or iwi-specific terms, and it’s important not to assume that those who are Māori and rainbow will automatically use or be aware of culturally specific kupu.

Did you know? The story of Tūtānekai and Tiki famously demonstrates that homosexuality has long been part of te ao Māori. Before Tūtānekai married Hinemoa, he was known to have Tiki as his male companion. Same-sex relations are also seen in many Māori art forms such as whakairo (carving) and haka.

Listen to the BANG! podcast on Takatāpui

Very few people know about about pre-colonial Māori perspectives on gender and sexuality. Melody spoke with scholars and activists about why old stories illustrating diverse sexualities and gender expressions in te ao Māori aren’t better known by all.

What about irawhiti or irawhiti takatāpui?

Irawhiti or irawhiti takatāpui are other te reo Māori terms that can be used to specifically refer to transgender identities for Māori.

Takatāpui can be used for Māori who have diverse sexual orientations including gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer, pansexual, etc.

To find out more te reo Māori gender identity terms, follow the link below:

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