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Definition OF TAKATāPUI


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Definition OF TAKATāPUI


What does 'takatāpui' mean?

Takatāpui is a Māori (indigenous people of Aotearoa New Zealand) word, historically meaning 'intimate companion of the same sex'. The term was reclaimed in the 1980s and used by individuals who were gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex or part of the rainbow community.

The use of 'takatāpui' as an identity is a response to western ideas of sex, sexuality and gender, and emphasises ones identity as Māori as inextricably linked to their gender identity or sexuality. 

Where does 'takatāpui' come from?

Important to the notion that practices other than heterosexuality and being cisgender were accepted in traditional Māori society pre-colonisation, is the existence of the word takatāpui in one of the earliest Māori dictionaries - The Dictionary of Māori Language - compiled by missionary Herbert Williams in 1832. In this text, the definition is noted as "intimate companion of the same sex". 

The most popular example of the term takatāpui in Māori history involves the popular (heterosexual) love story of Hinemoa and Tūtānekai.

In the early 2000s, scholars discovered that one of the classic and earliest accounts of Māori beliefs (Nga Tama a Rangi by Wī Maihi Te Rangaikāheke, 1849), recounted Tūtānekai referring to his best friend Tiki as 'hoa takatāpui'. It is said that during a period of separation from Tiki, Tūtānekai said to his father, "I am dying for love for my friend, for my takatāpui, my beloved, for Tiki".