Te Reo Maori Doughnut

Preface Reflection
We are our symbols and, without compassion, the ego can easily have us make them be our worst enemy.

Source of picture

“Te Reo Māori doughnut is “the interpretation of the doughnut in the hope that it would provide New Zealand with the social and environmental context for the nascent circular economy” “– Juhi Shareef


Pepeha (Informal introduction)

I am a guest of Maori, the indigenous people of Aotearoa (aka New Zealand). I have lived here all my life. My ancestors arrived in Aotearoa four generations ago from the British Isles. Though I was born here, I was inculcated by New Zealand’s English education system, which denigrated Maori culture and banned both the teaching and speaking of the Maori language. Thus I was in my eighth decade before I received any formal education in te reo Maori and became more truly aware of my ignorance of Maori culture. So I feel very humble and tentative in offering the following reflections.
Please note: the reflections are part of a series devoted to the refinement of pictures attempting to summarize the psychology~physics of the human condition. Links below.

Suggestion: it is perhaps helpful to first read the brief 3 minute introduction and legend* to the Mobius Loop of Life
and then the consequent reflections on
the Doughnut Economics symbol.
*Note: the legend is founded in the principles of physics, in particular the Conservation of Energy Principle.

I am not an authority of the deep meaning of te reo Maori and Te Ao O Te Maori (The World of Maori). However I feel confident in saying Maori have for millennia enjoyed world-class arts at navigation, trading and stewardship of flora and fauna of the oceans and lands. This physics, according to paradox of information, is reflected in traditional te reo Maori (The Maori language).


Te Reo Māori Doughnut basically mirrors the Doughnut Economics symbol. It also is a two (dual) dimensional symbol. Thus it too easily becomes the domain of the ego with all its incredible self-deceits and ingenious denials of the principles of physics.
For instance, the use of the circle invites endless debate of the inner versus the outer, me versus the universe, society versus the environment.
This dissonance tends not to occur so much in more holistic cultures, which tend to be more economic and sustainable i.e. living in accord with the principles of physics.

The central problem is behavioural: we are our actions and the truth of them is always somehow manifest in our use of symbols, our language.

In brief, transformations, translations and transliterations from holistic language to dualistic language tend to become less compassionate and more ego-driven. They lose their capacity to transcend the essential paradox of our existence and, without great care, vital wisdom is lost. The result of the communication is increased entropy, whereby the transformation increases waste and pollution. That which was sustaining becomes unsustainable and only compassion can repair the loss.

For example, many Maori say, “Ko au te awa ko te awa ko au” This is often written Ko au te awa, ko te awa ko au” and Ko au te awa. Ko te awa ko au. The use of the comma or full-stop makes a profound difference to the meaning of the saying because the holistic tends to become dualistic. All three symbols are commonly translated into the The Crown dialect of English as, “I am the river and the river is me.”

The introduction of a conjunction such as the word “and” or a comma or a full stop breaks the experience of the flow. Maybe it can be likened to stepping out of the forces and wetness of the river and simply observing it from afar in a detached, deductive way?

Those most fully inculcated in the dualism of The Crown Dialect of English are trapped in paradox and this saying makes nonsense to them. For them, a river cannot be a person. they say its one (H2O – a profit-making chemical) or the other (a human being) and the two cannot be the same.
Profound meaning is lost in the process of translation. Traditionally, water is sacred for Maori because with it they are connected through their ancestors to the creation of Earth in the cosmos and to all future generations. This potent experience of kinship with water forms a constant reminder of who they are and their role as stewards.


Te Reo Māori Doughnut is a transliteration of the language of Doughnut Economics, which is The Crown dialect of English. As discussed in the Reflections on Doughnut Economics, the Crown’s notion of “energy” is fatally flawed, generating and reflecting profoundly unsustainable behaviour in individuals and their societies.
Hihiri” is a transliteration of this ego-derived, exclusive notion of “energy”. “Hihiri”almost certainly does not reflect the degree of compassion in Te Ao O Te Maori with its inclusive notions of “mauri” or life principle, life force, vital essence…


The Crown dialect of English strips “economy” of all moral consideration. It defines “The Economy” as “ all the activities of a country associated with the production, distribution and buying of goods and services.” Warfare, planned obsolescence and waste, pollution, slavery, disease propagation, crime and speculation are deemed to be “Goods” and “Services”.

Note: New Zealand is an exemplar of this psychopathy taken to the extreme. Speculative activities of currencies, stocks, shares, land and dwellings form a major and very potent component of “The NZ Economy”. However a massive deceit is maintained whereby these speculative activities are excluded from the 15% Goods and Service Tax that is applied to all goods and services including food, water, medicine, clothing, heating and all other basic needs.

In brief, The Crown over the past two centuries stripped “economy” of all its previous associations with active frugality, care and stewardship. It then compounded this exclusive use of “economy” by adding the determiner “the”, as in “The economy”.
In practice the Anglosphere notion of “The Economy” is now a global system of planned obsolescence i.e. a vast dis-economy that puts humankind at grave peril.

Economy (frugality and stewardship) or kaitiakitanga is fundamental in Te Ao O Te Maori. The imposition of “The Economy” on Maori has devastated their culture.


Traditionally “ohanga” was associated with nest and is linked to “kohanga” ( nest, nursery, birthplace, cradle, homeland, stronghold, bastion).
“Oha” has multiple meanings both as a verb and a noun
For instance
(verb) (-ngia,-tia) to leave as a bequest.
(verb) to be abundant, plentiful. Ka rāhuitia ngā pipi, ka oha (W 1971:237). / When the cockles are protected from being harvested they become plentiful.
(noun) generosity, largesse, munificence.
(noun) relic, keepsake, gift, treasured bequest.

These meanings all speak of kaitiakitanga – our careful husbandry of Earth so we bequeath its sustaining potential, not dis-economy and misery, on our children.


The Maori Dictionary has no reference to “Ohunga”, which is translated as “Work and Income” inTe Reo Maori Doughnut.
Work” is typically defined as activities that add wealth to The Crown while “”Income” is payment for those services by means of The Crown’s currency- the NZ Dollar ($NZ).
However the Maori Dictionary does list multiple definitions of “ohu” e.g.
(verb) (-a) to work as a volunteer group, do as a working party, do cooperatively.
(modifier) working bee, communal working group.
(noun) working bee, working party, volunteer workers, commune, cooperative, collective enterprise.

These activities tend to be motivated by community spirit, not monetary ($NZ) exchange.


Teina Boasa-Dean replaced “ohanga” in the initial Te Re Maori Doughnut with “oranga”. This is a noun meaning “survivor, food, livelihood, welfare, health, living”.


Ora has multiple meanings including as a
(verb) to be alive, well, safe, cured, recovered, healthy, fit, healed.
(noun) life, health, vitality.
(modifier) healthy, fit, well, alive – in a state of wellbeing or just being alive.

The Maori Dictionary has no translation for the word “civilization”. English dictionaries tend to equate “civilization” with “an advanced state of human society, in which a high level of culture, science, industry, and government has been reached.” Such definitions, conveniently for the ego, have no foundation in the principles of physics and the sustainability of the society.

However the inclusiveness inherent in more compassionate definitions of “civilization” tends to generate and reflect behaviour that is more in accord with the principles of physics. This is because the qualities of compassion enable us to enjoy the state of science with its spirit of inquiry, generosity and honesty. This state of being in turn enables us to develop all manner of sustaining arts (skills) i.e. Civics. Our lives and institutions tend to generate stewardship and economy, harmony and justice. We all experience sustained health and well-being.

This is true civilization and it seems in accord with the state of being expressed in “oranga”. It is in profound contrast to the amorality of the English definition of “civilization”, which many Maori associate with war, land confiscation and degradation, and the general despoliation of te ao o te Maori, the world of the Maori.

Regenerative (circular) and distributive economy.

An action is economic because it is in accord with the principles of physics and conserves the flows and balance that sustain human kind. In other words, any economy i.e. any compassionate, frugal action tends to be regenerative, circular and distributive by nature.
By contrast, an action performed to sate the greed and acquisitiveness of the ego tends to be wasteful and depleting of vital resources, polluting and ultimately self-destructive. Such an action is not an economy. It is a dis-economy.
Note: Anglosphere academics, journalists, politicians and policy makers, without question, confuse and conflate “dis-economy” with “economy”. Neither oranga nor true civilization can flourish while their notion of “economy” prevails.

Transcending the ego, paradox and dualism.

Re whether people or planet should be inside or outside – that’s a great design and philosophical question. I think it depends on the visual and symbolic interpretation different people / worldviews may choose to follow.

Kate Raworth on Twitter April 16, 2020

Kate elucidates in further Twitter posts:

“In some visual culture, what’s in the centre is foundational, what’s around the edge is peripheral. Like a target board….In other visual culture, what’s outer is foundational because it includes everything, and anything that lies within it is a dependent subset of that. This is the visual interpretation I followed in drawing the Doughnut. Humanity as subsystem of the living world, hence within it.”

Kate Raworth on Twitter April 16, 2020

All pictures are limited by their dual (two) dimensional nature and are to some degree the product of the ego. This said, there are some pictures that express paradox in ways that remind us in our greater being. The ego would have us believe such pictures are impossible and cannot really exist. However we sense their truth and a greater capacity in us embraces their reality. In so doing we transcend the limitations of the ego, paradox and dualism and enjoy more holistic and sustaining visions of existence.


Both the Doughnut Economics symbol and Te Reo Māori Doughnut symbol are courageous endeavours. Kate Raworth resides at the epi-centre of the Anglosphere Empire, an empire so powerful and dualistic it has generated an unprecedented Anthropocene. Teina Boasa-Dean resides out an outpost of the empire on the other side of the planet.
All human beings suffer and are much risk because of this empire, especially indigenous peoples such as Maori in Aotearoa.

Both are attempting in a picture to communicate the psychopathy and ego-driven excesses of this system while picturing civilization – that precious state of being when a human being or group of human beings enjoy sufficient compassion that their lives are in sustaining harmony with the flows of the cosmos.
Both are courageous because to even question the ego-driven status quo invites ridicule and tribulation.
Both are an inspiration to those searching for truth and meaning.
Both employ dualistic frameworks, which is very much the domain of the ego with its capacity to make each of us our own worst enemy despite our finest intentions.
Between them they have illustrated how we can know our place in the cosmos better by exploring it with pictures, especially when we share the wisdom of all human cultures in compassion. Thank you. Nga mihi nui.

Final Reflection

We are our symbols and this matters because they simultaneously reflect and generate our worldview, for better and for worse. Thus it is wise to explore our most potent symbols to ensure they best align with the principles of physics and sustain humankind.
Revelations from this inquiry challenge beliefs we hold dear. So it is helpful to appreciate how subtle these matters involving the human condition are and how they are best understood in compassion.
This is because they always involve that mercurial, ingenious, acquisitive, deceitful element of our being: the human ego.

The ego or the “I” is born of the division of our consciousness with self-consciousness and it thrives in division and alienation. Thus the nature of the ego is such that it is relentless in its denial of reality – this being the continuous, universal transformation, the cosmic flux we are all part of.
Without compassion, the ego can easily have us be our own worst enemy, no matter how wise our individual psyche, no matter how civil our society, no matter how profound our religion.
It is the compassionate element of our being that allows us to embrace our perceived errors and limitations so we are able to learn from them, enjoy greater truth and be more in harmony with the universal ways.
The Doughnut Economics symbol and the Te Reo Maori Doughnut inspired this exploration, which now includes the Yinyang symbol, the Greenhouse World symbol and my own attempt to create a wise, sustaining symbol: the Mobius Loop of Life.

Reflections on The Mobius Loop of Life symbol.

Reflections on The Doughnut Economics symbol.

Reflections on the Yin~yang symbol

Reflections on the Greenhouse World symbol

First draft 6 June 2021