It’s cool to kōrero — January 2024

January 12, 2024

Hipi — sheep



Weu wūru — wool fibre: parting the fleece of a Merino sheep shows its fine texture, which is in demand for the manufacture of clothing. (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Ewes (kātua) and lambs (reme) on an Aotearoa farm. (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Haere mai and welcome to the first “It’s cool to kōrero” column for the year. “Hipi” is the common word in te reo for sheep, an introduced animal which has played a major part in the New Zealand economy for more than a century.


After European settlers first brought hipi here, Māori were quick to establish themselves as expert shearers, first with blades, and then with electric shearing machines.

Māori continue to be a strong presence, as shearers, rousies and wool-classers, in shearing gangs that work on sheep farms and stations across New Zealand and Australia.

Kupu hou (new word)
  • Hipi (sheep) — pronounced “hee-pee”
  • Kia kutikuti hipi e rua rau ia rā, e taku tungāne. — My brother can shear 200 sheep a day.

More words related to hipi:


  • hipi toa – ram
  • kātua – ewe
  • hipi tame raho-poka –wether
  • reme – lamb
  • hōkete – hogget (year-old sheep)
  • huruhuru hipi – wool
  • wūru – wool
  • weu wūru – wool fibre
  • kirihipi — sheepskin
  • kutikuti — shearing
  • kaikuti — shearer
  • hīpō – “sheep-o”: person whose job it is to fill the pens with sheep for shearing
  • piriho – “fleece-o”: person who picks up shorn fleece and tosses it on table for wool-skirting and classing

E mihi ana ki a Titihuia Pakeho rāua ko Mairi Lucas.


A mob of sheep are driven along a country road near Fiordland, in the South Isalnd.