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Mana is both a word in indigenous languages of the South Pacific and more recently a New Zealand English word. See Māori influence on New Zealand English. Translating the indigenous word encounters difficulty as it reflects a non-Western view of reality.[1] To quote the New Zealand Ministry of Justice "Mana and tapu are concepts which have both been attributed single - worded definitions by contemporary writers. As concepts, especially Maori concepts they can not easily be translated in to a single English definition . Both mana and tapu take on a whole range of related meanings depending on their association and the context in which they are being used."[2]

In contemporary New Zealand English, the word Mana, taken from the Maori, refers to a person or organization of people of great personal prestige and character.[3] Sir Edmund Hillary, whose portrait is on the New Zealand $5 bill, is considered to have great mana both because of his accomplishments, but also because of the humble nature of how he gave his life to service. Perceived egotism can diminish mana as it is used in NZ English because New Zealand culture tends to shun displays of self aggrandisement (see Tall poppy syndrome). In English a New Zealander would say "Sir Ed has a lot of mana" even though the man is deceased. Also, a New Zealander would say "Sir Ed brought a lot of mana to the Sir Edmund Hillary Outdoor Pursuit Centre" This means the centre (the OPC) has mana because of the association it has with a man of great mana. However if the OPC did something that was not respected by New Zealanders, it could lose that mana in the eyes of New Zealanders.

Mana as an indigenous word may be the concept of an impersonal force or quality that resides in people, animals, and inanimate objects. The concept is common to many Oceanic languages, including Melanesian, Polynesian, and Micronesian.

In anthropological discourse, mana as a generalized concept has attained a significant amount of interest, often understood as a precursor to formal religion. It has commonly been interpreted as "the stuff of which magic is formed", as well as the substance of which souls are made.

Modern fantasy fiction and computer and role-playing games have adopted mana as a term for magic points—an expendable resource out of which magic users form their magical spells.


Mana in Polynesian culture

In Polynesian culture (for example, Hawaiian and Māori), mana is a spiritual quality considered to have supernatural origin – a sacred impersonal force existing in the universe. Therefore to have mana is to have influence and authority, and efficacy – the power to perform in a given situation. This essential quality of mana is not limited to persons – peoples, governments, places and inanimate objects can possess mana. In Hawaiian, mana loa means "great power". There are two ways to obtain mana: through birth and through warfare. People or objects that possess mana are accorded "respect"; because their possession of mana gives them "authority", "power", and "prestige". In Māori, a tribe that has mana whenua is considered to have demonstrated their authority over a given piece of land or territory. The word’s meaning is complex because mana is a basic foundation of the Polynesian worldview.

Mana is also referred to in the Huna religion as the vital life force which flows through the body. The kahuna believed that there are three different kinds of mana within the body.

Essential aspects to a Māori person's mana

Mana in Melanesian culture

Melanesian mana is thought to be a sacred impersonal force existing in the universe. Mana can be in people, animals, plants and objects. Similar to the idea of efficacy, or sometimes better known as luck, the Melanesians thought all success was traced back to mana. One could acquire or manipulate this luck in different ways (for example through magic). Certain objects that have mana can change a person’s luck.

Examples of such objects would be charms or amulets. For instance if a very prosperous hunter used a charm that had mana and he gave it to another person then people believed that the prosperous hunter’s luck would transfer to the next holder of the charm.

Universal archetype

A concept analogous to mana in various other cultures has been the power of magic. However, it was not the only principle, and others included the concept of sympathetic magic and of seeking the intervention of a specific supernatural being, whether deity, saint or deceased ancestor.

The magic of mana was embedded into all talismans and fetishes, whether devoted to ancient Gods, Roman Catholic saint relics, the spirits of the ancestors or the underlying element that makes up the universe and all life within it.[citation needed]

Similar cultural concepts

The concept of a life-energy inherent in all living beings seems to be a fairly universal archetype, and appears in numerous ancient religions and systems of metaphysics.

Analogies[citation needed] to mana in other societies include:

Also related are the philosophical concepts of:

Mana in anthropological discourse

Mana came to the attention of the anthropological community with the English missionary Robert Henry Codrington's (1830-1922) work The Melanesians (1891). It has since been discussed by anthropologists such as Émile Durkheim (1912), Marcel Mauss (1924), Claude Lévi-Strauss (1950) and Roger Keesing (1984).

Mana in fantasy

Fantasy writer Larry Niven in his 1969 short story Not Long Before the End described mana as a natural resource which is used or channeled by wizards to cast magic spells. He expanded on this idea in other works, notably his 1978 novella The Magic Goes Away. Mana is a limited resource in Niven's work, a fact which eventually will lead to the end of all magic in his antediluvian fantasy setting when all mana is depleted.

Many subsequent fantasy settings (role-playing games in particular) have followed Niven in his use of mana.

The article about magic points lists more games, and examples of the widespread use and differing implementation of the concept of mana in games.


  • Codrington, Robert Henry. 1891. The Melanesians.
  • Keesing, Roger. 1984. Rethinking mana. Journal of Anthropological Research 40:137-156.
  • Lévi-Strauss, Claude. 1950. Introduction à l'œuvre de Marcel Mauss.
  • Lévi-Strauss, Claude; Baker, Felicity (translator). 1987. Introduction to the Work of Marcel Mauss. ISBN 0-415-15158-9
  • Mauss, Marcel. 1924. Essai sur le don.

External links


Up to date as of January 15, 2010
(Redirected to mana article)

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also MANA, maná, mañá, maña, måna, and mână



Wikipedia has an article on:



From a Polynesian source such as Maori mana.





mana (uncountable)

  1. A form of supernatural energy in Polynesian religion that inheres in things or people.
  2. (gaming, chiefly role-playing games) Magical power.
  3. Alternative spelling of manna.




mana f (plural mane)

  1. defect



Etymology 1


mana (stem man-*)

  1. The place where people go after dying according to the Finnish mythology.
  2. death
Derived terms

Etymology 2


mana (stem man-*)

  1. mana





  1. where, which

Derived terms




  1. where, which

Usage notes

Similar in usage to Indonesian examples di mana, ke mana and yang mana.




  1. The house of a Namboothiri, or Kerala Brahmin.


  • illam




  1. power



mana f.

  1. hand




  1. not


Conjugations of mana
Infinitive mana
Present tense manar
Past tense manade
Supine manat
Imperative mana
Present participle manande,
Past participle manad



  1. To encourage or urge someone

See also



  • IPA: /'



  1. heirloom


mana (infinitive magmana'')

  1. to inherit




  1. meaning


  • anlam


Up to date as of February 01, 2010

From Wikia Gaming, your source for walkthroughs, games, guides, and more!

The Mana Tree from Legend of Mana.

A term from Polynesian culture, Mana is the concept of a life force or power in the general sense. The concept of mana is a staple of a lot of RPG's. Mana is usually a stat, a renewable one like HP, used to cast magic spells. The term MP usually stands for Mana Points. Mana, in games, is basically a magical life giving energy. Items like Ether typically refill a characters mana. The image of a "Mana tree" that gives the world mana is common.

Find Mana in...

This article uses material from the "Mana" article on the Gaming wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.

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