It’s cool to kōrero — October 2023

October 26, 2023

Kurī — dog.

Kurī, the original dog of Aotearoa, brought here by Māori and now extinct. Photo: Kane Fleury / © Otago Museum / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 4.0
This scene, taken from Augustus Earle’s painting “War Speech” shows two Māori chiefs with a kurī in front of them, in the 1820s. (Wikimedia Commons)

Many dogs in this country are working farm dogs. Here farmer and dog guide sheep along a rural road. Photo: Adobe Stock
Haere mai and welcome to the October kōrero column. Kurī is a commonly used word for dog in te reo Māori, and kurī are popular animals in Māori homes.

There are over 800,000 dogs in this country, and a survey done in 2020 found that Māori households were the ethnic group in Aotearoa who were most likely to own a dog.

Kurī is also the name of a now-extinct breed of dog that Māori brought with them to Aotearoa — and which played an interesting part in traditional Māori culture.

These smallish dogs were often highly valued, though not quite what modern people would regard as a pet. They helped Māori hunt prey, including moa. Some were the valued companions of chiefs, and had their own whakapapa and burial sites.

They were also highly valued for their hides and fur — a cloak made of dog skins (kahu kurī) was fit for a high-ranking chief.

Kurī gradually became extinct in the years after Europeans arrived on these shores, bringing with them their own dog breeds.

Kupu hou (new word)
  • Kurī (dog)– pronounced “coo-dee”
  • Kei te hikoi haere i te kurī e au. — I am walking the dog.

More words related to kurī:

  • auau — the bark of a dog
  • māwhiti — cape decorated with white dog hair
  • taparenga — to muzzle a dog
  • Tautahi — Sirius, the Dog Star
  • tōtiti wira — hot dog
  • kūao kurī — puppy
  • kaitiaki kakarehe — vet
  • kara kurī — dog collar
  • kai ma te kurī — dog food

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

  1. Companion animals in New Zealand 2020
  2. A dog’s life — the fate of Māori kurī.
  4. Words for dog owners in Māori.