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No. 21 (December 1957)
– 42 –

PROVERBIAL AND POPULAR SAYINGS OF THE
MAORI

NGA WHAKATAUKI ME NGA PEPEHA MAORI

Na KINGI IHAKA

He kuku ki te kainga, he kaka ki te haere.

Ko te kupu nei “kuku” he whakapotonga no te kupu “kukupa” a ki tetahi atu reo, he “kereru”. Ko tenei manu, kahore e rangona ana e turituri ana tana tangi; he manu ata tangi. Ko te kaka, he manu tino turituri. Haruru ana te ngahere i te turituri o te tangi a tenei manu. He whakatauaki tenei mo tetahi tangata, i tona ake kainga marae ranei, kahore ana korero, wahangu noa iho a ia. Engari ki te haere atu ana ki te kainga, marae ranei o tetahi atu, kei runga a ia e pahupahu ana e whakaturituri ana! Ko tetahi rerenga ano o te whakatauaki nei mo te tangata nohopuku. Ara. ki te korerotia tetahi take, kahore ana korero. engari ki te tutuki pai ana taua take, he tere tonu tana tu ki runga korero ai. Ka whakaritea nga tangata penei ki te kuku i nga wa o te nohopuku. a ki te kaka i nga wa e puta whakarere ai ana korero.

Tungia te ururua, kia tupu whakaritorito te tupu o te harakeke.

Ki te reo o naianei; “tahungia te ururua, kia tupu ake ai he harakeke hou.” He maha nga rerenga o tenei whakatauaki, a, e hangai ana mo a tatou mahi, a tatou hui me era atu ahuatanga maha. Whakawateangia ka tikanga kino katoa—te noho ririri, noho kino, enei ahuatanga kino katoa, kia oti pai ai nga mahi. Kahore hoki te pai e tupu ake i roto i te kino, na reira, me matua whakawatea enei tikanga katoa, katahi ano ka tau te rangimarie, ka tutuki pai nga mahi. Otira me ki penei na, tahuna atu nga tikanga katoa e kore ai e haere a mua ana mahi, kia tupu ai, kia hua ai hoki nga mahi katoa.

Tama tu, tama ora; tama noho, tama mate kai.

He ruarua nei nga whakamarama, otira kei te noho marama tonu nga kupu nei. Ma te tu o te tangata ki te mahi, ma te werawera o tona mata, e ora ai ia. Ki te noho noa iho te tangata kahore e mahi, e kore e roa ka mate-kai, ka hiakai ia. Ko te tangata mahi ano, ka ora; ko te tangata mangere, kahore a ia e ora!

“A pigeon at home, a parrot on travels.”

The “kuku” which is the abbreviated form for “kukupa” meaning a pigeon, makes faint noises, whilst the native parrot is a noisy bird. This proverb is levelled at those who are speechless and quiet on their own ‘maraes’ but boast when on foreign ground. This also could be applied to one who refuses to take an active part in discussions at meetings for instance, but is full of ideas and words after such meetings; or in the case of a difficult subject, whilst this is being discussed a person says nothing. When the matter in question is finalised, he immediately rises and expresses his views. He is likened to a pigeon which normally is noiseless and immediately changes his form (likened to a parrot) when everything is in order!

“Burn the over-growth to enable the flax to bring forth new shoots.” There are various interpretations for this. As an example, the aim of everyone should be to burn or get rid of such things as quarelling, anger and the like in order to accomplish whatever is aimed at. Goodness has never emanated from wrong-doing; therefore, whatever hinders any work of progress ought first to be got rid of. A fair interpretation of this is: burn or dispose of whatever hinders progress in all that is done, in order that what is desirable may indeed grow and bear fruit.

“He who stands lives; he who sits, perishes.”

The meaning of this is fairly apparent. This is applied to lazy people. One who continues to sit or sleep, will not last long, whilst one who is active will gain much and will naturally reap from his labours.

“A basket containing a small supply of food is unnoticed; one which contains an over-flowing quantity, is rewarding.”

In translating Maori proverbs, the proverbial structure is lost and in some cases the original meaning as well. In this instance the literal translation has made the original appear pointless. The proverb has various meanings. A dainty meal served to visitors is only a throat tickler, whilst one served in abundance will satisfy the appetite; herefore do not stint food when entertaining visitors. The Scriptural “widow's mite” is quite in order if one is in the widow's circumstances, but not for those with a higher scale of living, therefore give freely.