The aim of this study is to investigate Māori (Indigenous peoples of Aotearoa New Zealand) understandings of dementia (mate wareware) and develop a framework to inform assessment of cognitive impairment. Qualitative, kaupapa Māori (Māori approach) research with 241 older Māori (kaumātua) involving 17 focus groups across Aotearoa New Zealand (NZ) and eight families (whānau) from one region. We thematically analyzed transcribed data from audio-recorded interviews. Two overarching themes, namely, connection (Tūhononga) and self (Whaiaro), and eight subthemes in particular mind (hinengaro), spirit (wairua), body (tinana), family (whānau), social connection (whanaungatanga), identity and role (tuakiri), place (wāhi), and ancestors (tūpuna) emerged. Māori language (Te Reo Māori) was important for cognitive health. The findings embedded in cultural values improve understanding of dementia (mate wareware) in Māori. These themes can inform the assessment of older Māori with cognitive impairment. For those without cognitive impairment, the Tūhononga Whaiaro framework suggests factors potentially crucial for healthy aging in Māori.