1. (stative) be sacred, prohibited, restricted, set apart, forbidden, under atua protection - see definition 4 for further explanations.
I taua wā ko Te Riri anake te tangata o Ngāti Hine e kaha ana ki te noho i aua whenua. Ko te mea hoki e tapu katoa ana te whaitua nei, pokapoka katoa ana ngā hiwi i ngā rua tūpāpaku (TTR 1998:82). / At that time Te Riri was the only person of Ngāti Hine who wanted to live on the property, because the area was tapu and the surrounding hills were riddled with burial caves.
2. (modifier) sacred, prohibited, restricted, set apart, forbidden, under atua protection - see definition 4 for further explanations.
Kei te maumahara tonu ngā uri o Te Whiti ki te tūruapō, arā, te maunga tapu kei te tonga, kei tōna ātārangi he rākau, e pae rua ake ana i tōna peka ngā manu mōhio a Mumuhau rāua ko Takeretō (TTR 1994:172). / It is remembered by Te Whiti's descendants, namely that there is a sacred mountain to the south and in its shadow there is a tree with a branch and on this branch are two birds of knowledge, Mumuhau and Takaretō.
3. (modifier) holy - an adaptation of the original meaning for the Christian concept of holiness and sanctity.
4. (noun) restriction, prohibition - a supernatural condition. A person, place or thing is dedicated to an atua and is thus removed from the sphere of the profane and put into the sphere of the sacred. It is untouchable, no longer to be put to common use. The violation of tapu would result in retribution, sometimes including the death of the violator and others involved directly or indirectly. Appropriate karakia and ceremonies could mitigate these effects. Tapu was used as a way to control how people behaved towards each other and the environment, placing restrictions upon society to ensure that society flourished. Making an object tapu was achieved through rangatira or tohunga acting as channels for the atua in applying the tapu. Members of a community would not violate the tapu for fear of sickness or catastrophe as a result of the anger of the atua. Intrinsic, or primary, tapu are those things which are tapu in themselves. The extensions of tapu are the restrictions resulting from contact with something that is intrinsically tapu. This can be removed with water, or food and karakia. A person is imbued with mana and tapu by reason of his or her birth. High-ranking families whose genealogy could be traced through the senior line from the atua were thought to be under their special care. It was a priority for those of ariki descent to maintain mana and tapu and to keep the strength of the mana and tapu associated with the atua as pure as possible. People are tapu and it is each person's responsibility to preserve their own tapu and respect the tapu of others and of places. Under certain situations people become more tapu, including women giving birth, warriors travelling to battle, men carving (and their materials) and people when they die. Because resources from the environment originate from one of the atua, they need to be appeased with karakia before and after harvesting. When tapu is removed, things become noa, the process being called whakanoa. Interestingly, tapu can be used as a noun or verb and as a noun is sometimes used in the plural. Noa, on the other hand, can not be used as a noun.
(Te Kōhure Textbook (Ed. 2): 237-240; Te Kōhure Video Tapes (Ed. 1): 6;)
Kāore he kai maoa o runga i tēnei waka, i a Tākitimu, nā te tapu. He kai mata anake (HP 1991:9). / There was no cooked food on this canoe, on Tākitimu, because it was tapu. There was only raw food.
Ko tēnei i muri nei he karakia whakahorohoro i ngā tapu o ngā tāngata (TWMNT 3/4/1872:58). / The following is a ritual chant to remove the tapu of people.
See also rāhui