There are 2 main definitions of matai in English:

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matai1

Line breaks: matai
Pronunciation: /ˈmatʌɪ
 
/

noun (plural matais)

A coniferous New Zealand tree which yields pale timber.
  • Prumnopitys taxifolia, family Podocarpaceae
Example sentences
  • The lush branches of the totara, matai and kahikatea trees blocked out all remaining light and I was left alone in a dark, unfamiliar forest.
  • It's mainly heart rimu, with a matai floor and a totara frontage.
  • Trees in the bush include kahikitea, rimu, thin-barked totara, matai and miro.

Origin

mid 19th century: from Maori.

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There are 2 main definitions of matai in English:

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matai2

Line breaks: matai
Pronunciation: /ˈmatʌɪ
 
/

noun (plural same)

(In a Samoan extended family or clan) the person who is chosen to succeed to a chief’s or orator’s title and honoured as the head of the family: the chairs were used only by the pastor and visiting matai
More example sentences
  • Before the arrival of missionaries in 1830, Tagaloa was recognized as the creator of the islands and their people and matai served as family religious leaders.
  • Resident members live in clusters of households within the village, share some facilities and equipment, and work on family-land controlled by the matai.
  • Actually, a taito's role relates to more than a village; it is not that of a matai.

Origin

Samoan.

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