Meaning of tohunga in English:


Pronunciation /ˈtəʊhʊŋə/

nounplural noun tohunga

New Zealand
  • A Maori priest or learned person.

    ‘he was taken under the wing of a tohunga from Taranaki’
    • ‘the tohunga are highly respected members of any Maori community because of their skills in faith healing’
    • ‘Historically, only tohunga were allowed to live on the mountain.’
    • ‘In the days gone by, people like her mother would be trained as tohunga and their gifts developed.’
    • ‘Artisans such as tattoo artists, canoe builders, house builders, and carvers were all classified as tohunga in Maori.’
    • ‘It can be placed anonymously and is usually invoked by a tohunga, an expert practitioner, who can also lift it.’
    • ‘I cannot be emphatic enough in condemning these tohunga, for I have seen the result of their work.’
    • ‘We must festoon the forests with these stones and bring in armies of tohunga to protect the pigeons with chants.’
    • ‘For a while, things were calm, until the paramount chief and tohunga began a new campaign.’
    • ‘Based on a real story from 1937, the drama is about an ambitious teacher who seeks to awaken his spiritual prowess through visiting a tohunga.’
    • ‘She explains that the tohunga of old practiced in the best interests of Maori and cared for their spiritual needs.’
    • ‘When a sick person died, the tohunga would blame it on the patient, saying they had breached tapu or had committed a spiritual transgression.’


Early 19th century Maori, literally one skilled in signs and marks.