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No. 15 (July 1956)
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PROVERBIAL AND POPULAR SAYINGS OF THE MAORI

PROVERBIAL AND POPULAR SAYINGS OF THE
MAORI

NGA WHAKATAUAKI ME NGA PEPEHA A TE MAORI

E rua nga whakatauki i tuhingia e H. T. M. Wikiriwhi ki te Nama 12 o Te Ao Hou e hiahia ana ahau kia ahua whakamaramatia e ahau. Ko te tuatahi, ko tenei: “Ka tere Raua, ka tere Pipiwhakao.” Ko Raua, he kainga kei Te Wairoa (o roto i Ngati-kahungunu). Ko Pipiwhakao, he kainga ano kei roto o Turanga, a i mua, he ngahere rongonui enei. Ko te tikanga o tenei whakatauki mo tetahi ope taua e haere ana ki te pakanga, a mo tetahi huihuinga nui ranei. Ko te ingoa nei Pipiwhakao he mea whakaingoa (tapa) e Pawa, te rangatira o te waka nei o Horouta, te waka o Ngati-Porou, Katahi te koroua nei ka haere ki te rapu i tana kuri, ko Marewaiteao te ingoa, ka whakawhiti i tetahi whenua e karangatia ana, tae noa mai ki tenei ra, ko Te Aroha. Ka tae a ia ki te ngahere nei, ka pipi (ara, ka ata titiro), ka kite a ia i te whakao (he huihuinga tangata) e kato tawhara ana. Kahore a ia i hiahia kia mohiotia mai e nga tangata i roto i te ngahere ra, kei reira a ia e rapu ana i tana kuri. Na konei, ka karangatia te ingoa o te wahi ra, ko Pipiwhakao, ara he haerenga no Pawa ki te ngahere ki te rapu i tana kuri ka kite a ia i tetahi huihuinga nui i reira. Ko te korero a etahi, ko Whakao he ingoa tangata, engari kei te he tenei he ai ra ki nga korero mai.)

Ko tetahi o nga whakatauki kei roto ano i taua nama o Te Ao Hou wharangi 49. “Ko Turanga makau rau.” Ko te whakamaori-tanga kua oti te tuhi ki roto i Te Ao Hou e penei ana: Turanga me nga whaiaipo e rau—na ra ki te reo pakeha, na ki te pukapuka whakamaori a Wiremu ko te kupu nei “makau rau” mo nga whaiaipo maha. He take ano i peneingia e Te Wiremu, ara he kino mo te whakahua ki te reo Pakeha. Ko te tikanga ke o te whakatauki nei, mo te hua o nga tangata o Turanga, ara e ahua penei ana, ahakoa pehea te kaumatua o te tangata ki Turanga, ka puta he uri. (I te korerotanga o te kaituhi ki te reo irirangi i enei marama maha kua pahure ake nei mo nga whakatauki me nga pepeha Maori, ka tono a ia ki nga tangata e whakarongo mai ana, kia tukuna mai ki a ia, a ratou whakahe whakatika ranei i ana korero. Na, ko nga whakamarama e mau i runga ake nei, he mea tuku mai ki te kaituhi e Te Kani te Ua, he tohunga mo nga korero Maori, o Turanga, a e tika ana a ia kia mohio ki nga whakatauki o tona ake kainga. Na reira ka tuhia enei korero ki konei, ehara i te

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mea hei whakahe i nga korero kua puta ke mo enei whakatauki, engari hei whakamarama noa, a hei tautoko i nga wahi kei te tika.)

He taru tawhiti; He kupu whakarite tenei mo nga mate kino o naianei. E ki ana nga tuhituhi a nga tangata mohio katoa, i mua kahore rawa nga mate wetiweti penei i te kohi nei, me era atu momo mate, i pa ki nga Maori i mua atu i te taenga mai o te pakeha ki tenei motu. Ka whakaritea nga mate e mohiotia whanuitia nei i tenei ra, ki nga taru kino i mauria mai i tawhiti, na reira ka puta enei korero, “he taru tawhiti.”

E iti noa ana, na te aroha: Kei te marama te takoto o tenei whakatauki. E pa ana tenei mo te tuku takoha ki tetahi atu, ara ahakoa iti te taonga, ko te aroha ke te mea nui. Ehara tenei i te whakatauki hou; no mua mai ano tenei, a kauaka e whakapohehetia ki nga korero e rangona nei i tenei ra mo te nui ke o te whakaaro i te taonga ka tukuna ra.

He tao huata e taea te karo, he tao na aitua, e kore. He whakatauki tenei mo te mate, a kei te marama te takoto o nga kupu. Ka taea e te tangata te karo nga taonga o te pakanga, engari ko te mate, ahakoa ko wai taua tangata, e kore rawa e taea e ia te karo. I mua hoki he pakanga tetahi mahi nui a te Maori, na reira pea ka hoki nga whakaaro o te tangata nana tenei whakatauki ki nga taonga o te pakanga, ka whakaritea ki te mate. Na konei ka puta tenei korero, a he korero tino tika, e hangai ana ki nga mate tini o tena takiwa, o tena takiwa.

Kia mahara ki te he o Rona! E ahua rite ana tenei ki te korero o te Paipera e mea ra: “Kia mahara ki te wahine a Rota.” Ko te wahine hoki a Rota i whakahuringia e te Atua hei tote mona i te mea ki hai ia i whakarongo ki nga tohutohu atu ki a ia. He po te wa i tonongia ai a Rona raua ko tona tuakana ko Tangaroa-a-roto ki puna ki te tiki wai. Katahi raua ka tango i a raua taha, ka haere ki te tiki wai. Ko te po e haere nei raua, he po tino pouri, a kahore ano te marama i puta mai. I a raua e haere ana, ka tutuki haere raua, ka hinga, ka tu; penei haere raua, a tae noa ki te puna. Katahi a Rona ka whakatakariri ki te marama mo te roa ka puta mai. No te putanga mai o te marama, horo tonu te rere o te kanga a Rona—Pokokohua! Te tahuringa ake tena o te marama, katahi raua ko tona tuakana ka hutingia ki runga. Na ko te kanohi e kitea atu nei i te marama i tenei ra, no Rona. (He korero purakau noa ra enei). Na konei i puta ai tenei korero “kia mahara ki te he o Rona.” He whakatauki pai tenei he whakatupato i te tangata, ara kia tika tana korero mo tetahi mea, a kia tika ano hoki ana mahi, kei he, ka huri hei tote, ka hutia ranei e te marama ki runga tarewa mai ai!

Kahore a te rakau nei whakaaro, kei te tohunga te whakaaro. Kei te mohiotia e kore e taea e te rakau te ki ake ki te tangata me penei, me pera ranei tana whakairo i a ia, engari pai tonu kia tuhingia tenei whakatauki, hei whakaoho i te iwi i te tangata ranei, kia mau mahara ai ia, he tangata tonu a ia, ehara i te rakau. I etahi wa hoki me te mea nei he rakau tonu te tangata!

Two proverbs mentioned by Mr H. T. M. Wikiriwhi in the No. 12 issue of Te Ao Hou, need further explanations. The first is: Ka tere Raua, ka tere Pipiwhakao. Raua is a place at Wairoa, and Pipiwhakao is in the Gisborne district and both were formerly famous forests. The literal meaning of the proverb is: When Raua is active, Pipiwhakao is also active. This proverb is applied to armed men on a war expedition, or to any large gathering where there are crowds of people. Pipiwhakao derived its name through the ancestor Pawa of the Horouta canoe of the Ngati Porou tribe. Whilst in search of his pet dog Marewaiteao, he passed through a block of land which is known to this day as the Aroha Block. He entered the forest and looking askance he sees a whakao or a multitude of people. He had to be careful whilst searching for his dog, lest members of his tribe who were in the forest collecting tawhara (the fruit of the kiekie) should know what he was doing. Hence the origin of the name Pipiwhakao. There are some who hold that whakao was the name of a man, and pipi the “callingout for the dog.” Moi is the word for calling a dog, and the previous explanation is the correct one.

The other proverb, mentioned on page 49 of the same issue, is: Ko Turanga makau rau, and the interpretation given is, “Gisborne of a hundred lovers.” Williams' Dictionary gives the meaning of makau-rau as having many lovers, but this does not apply to the term used in this saying. There is no doubt that the meaning many lovers as given by Williams, was meant to tone down the real meaning of the term. A more correct interpretation of the saying is: Gisborne, noted for its fertility. A free rendering would be—However old a man of Turanga (Gisborne) may be, he is fertile.

(Note: During the course of several talks given by the writer from the National Broadcasting Stations on this subject, he invited listeners to forward to him any comments and criticisms they wished to make. Mr H. Te Kani Te Ua, noted Maori leader and historian of Gisborne, forwarded the above comments, and the writer felt that his material should appear in Te Ao Hou.)

He Taru tawhiti: Literally, a weed from afar. This saying is applied to bad diseases. Historians record that in pre-European times, the Maori people did not suffer from most of the diseases of today, such as tuberculosis, cancer and so on. These terrible diseases are likened to a noxious weed from distant lands, hence the origin of this saying.

E iti noa ana, na te aroha: Although the present is small, 'tis all love can give. This is an ancient saying and must not be confused with the modern idea of “it is not the present that matters, but the thought behind it.” Maoris were noted for their hospitality and on several occasions they would part with treasured gifts not only to noted visitors, but to all and sundry. This saying, could well be used even today.

He Tao huata e taea te karo, he tao na aitua, e kore: The shaft or thrust of a spear may be parried, that of death, never. Whenever a death occurs in a Maori community, the people assemble for the tangi, or the paying of respects to the dead, and at such gatherings, proverbs and texts from the bible are often quoted. The one quoted, is of ancient origin. In ancient days, the huata or spear was a common weapon of the Maori, and he being a noted warrior, the origin of the saying is obvious. (Note: A number of pakehas refer to feasts and receptions as a “tangi.” We were recently asked to entertain a Chinese soccer team, and one of the officials—local and not Chinese—asked whether there would be a tangi. For the benefit of those who view a tangi in this light, it would perhaps be best for them to attend a tangi when one is held near their homes.)

Kia mahara ki te he o Rona—Remember the sin (or fault) of Rona. This is somewhat similar to the biblical saying: “Remember Lot's wife” whom God had turned into a pillar of salt for not obeying His word! Rona too disobeyed. Rona and her elder sister Tangaroa-a-roto were requested to fetch some water at night. They obtained calabashes and went on their errand. It was a very dark night, and as they went, they both stumbled and fell and rose up again. As they approached the well, Rona was quite annoyed that the moon had not risen, and just as the moon appeared, she cursed it. The moon was not going to take any curses from a mere woman, and so it stretched its hands(?) down, and lifted both Rona and her sister up. The face which appears on the moon today, is that of Rona. Hence the origin of this proverb, the moral being, to be careful what one says and does.

Kahore a te rakau nei whakaaro; kei te tohunga te whakaaro: The block of wood has no business to dictate to the artist who carves it. The meaning of this is quite clear, but there are times when one can very well be “the block of wood”!