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No. 22 (April 1958)
– 42 –

PROVERBIAL AND POPULAR SAYINGS OF THE MAORI

NGA WHAKATAUKI ME NGA PEPEHA
MAORI
Na KINGI IHAKA

E kore e ngaro; he takere waka nui.

He whakatauaki tenei mo te rangatira. Ko te takere o te waka e mama noa iho te kitea, waiho hoki, pera ano te rangatira, ahakoa pehea te toko-maha o te tangata, kei te mau tonu mai nga tohu he rangatira, ka whakaritea a ia ki te takere o te waka, koia te whakatauaki nei.

Ko tetahi ano rerenga o te korero nei mo tetahi take, mo tetahi kaupapa nui rawa ranei. E kore tetahi kaupapa e ngaro, mehemea he kaupapa hei oranga mo te katoa.

Kei muri i te awe kapara, he tangata ke; mana i te ao, he ma.

E ai ki nga korero, ko te “awe kapara” ko te mea mangu hei whakamau ki te moko o te tangata. Ki te taia ana te tangata ki te moko, ka whakamaungia atu te awe kapara. Kaua e titiro atu ki waho o te tangata, ki tana ahua, kia ana kakahu hoki, engari tirohia a roto. Kauaka e titiro atu ki te mangu o te tangata, engari titiro ki ona whakaaro, ki tana ngakau, Kaua e titiro ki te whero o te aporo, engari tapahia, mehemea kei te pai tonu a roto, kei te pai. Kaua e titiro ki te kakahu o te pukapuka; korerotia i te tuatahi i mua atu i to makatanga i a ia.

He moana pukepuke, e ekengia e te waka.

Ahakoa pehea te ngarungaru o te moana, ki te tika ana te hoe i te waka, ngawari noa iho te haere a te waka i runga. Waihoki, ahakoa pehea te uaua o tetahi take, o tetahi mahi ranei, ki te whakapau te tangata i tona kaha kia tutuki taua mahi, taua take ranei, me tutuki i runga I te rangimarie ka tika. “Kia i-itiiti te korero, kia nui nga mahi” te whakatauaki a te Pakeha e ahua rite mai ana ki tenei.

Ahakoa kai tahi, tera roto te haehae ke ra.

E ai ki nga korero, ki te kaitahi ana te tangata, he tohu kei te tau te rangimarie, kei te noho pai hoki. Na tenei whakatauaki, ka kitea te he o tenei korero. Kei te kai tonu nga tangata, kei roto i te whatumanawa o tetahi e noho ana te puhachae me te kino, na reira tenei korero i puta ai.

He ika haehae kupenga.

Mo te tangata whakakinokino, whakararuraru ranei tenei korero. Ahakoa pehea te pai o tetahi whakahaere, tikanga ranei, tera ano tetahi tangata whakahawea, amuamu., ngautuara, kei te rapu i etahi tikanga e he ai nga whakahaere. Mo te tamaiti tutu ano hoki tenei korero. I whakaritena a ia ki te ika (ngohi) he haehae kupenga te mahi; ahakoa he aha tetahi mea, kei reira a ia e hianga ana.

 

“It will not be undetected, because it is the main part of the hull of a canoe.”

This is applied to chiefs. The “takere” is the main part of the hull of a canoe and easily noticeable. A chief is easily recognizable in spite of the many who may assemble, for he wears the sign of chieftainship. This also could be applied to some very worthwhile project. Such a project will not be passed unnoticed, provided of course that it is for the benefit of all. (The former interpretation is the normal one.)

“Beneath a man who is tattooed with soot, is a different man: in this world he is clean.”

Do not judge a person from his outside appearance; never judge a book from its cover; all is not gold that glitters. The “awe kapara” was the special soot or resin used in the old days to give colour to the tattoo marks. A man fully tattooed may appear hideous, but judge not from his outward appearance, for he may prove to oe a harmless and righteous gentleman.

“Mountainous seas can be negotiated by a canoe.”

No matter how rough the seas are, provided a canoe is properly rowed, it will glide along without difficulty. Similarly, no matter how difficult a problem or work is, if a person is fully determined to solve that problem or to accomplish what he sets out to do, he will succeed.

“Although they share meals, within them is jealousy.”

When people share a meal, it is normally a sign of friendship, but occasionally there is petty jealousy or even hatred on the part of one or more. On such occasions this saying is applicable.

“A fish which ruins the net”

This is applied to a troublesome person. No matter how worthwhile a project is, there is always someone who is dissatisfied, always complaining, back-biting, and looking for means to discredit such a scheme. This also applied to a violent youth, always looking for trouble.

“Your lying mouth.”

The meaning is obvious. Whenever a person is known to be false, the expression is used.

“A one day mushroom.”

This is applied to anything short-lived or not long established.

 
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To waha hakirara.

He korero tenei mo tetahi tangata korero teka (tito, rupahu). Ka mohiotia atu ana, kei te korero teka tetahi tangata, ka karangatia atu, “to waha hakirara.”

He harore rangi tahi.

He korero tenei mo tenei mo tetahi mea kahore e roa ka mate; he ruarua nei nga ra ka mate.

He po tu tata, he ao pahorehore.

Ko tenei whakatauaki no Wairarapa. Ko tetahi ano rerenga o tenei korero e penei ana; “ahiahi tu tata, ao pahorehore.” Ko te tikanga e penei ana; I te po, e noho tahi ana e mahi tahi ana, ao rawa ake, kua marara te iwi, kua kore he mahi e oti.

Kaimata whiwhia, maoa riro ke.

Me kai i te kai i te wa e mata ana, kei noho koe tatari ai kia maoa, ka puta mai he tangata, ka riro mana ke e kai o kai. He korero amuamu tenei, kahore e tino pai ana.

Hawaiki kai.

He maha no te kai ti Hawaiki i puta ai tenei whakatauaki. Kei roto i te patere ra, nga kupu nei: “Ka toi au ki Hawaiki, ki te kai ra, i rari noa mai, te raweketia e te ringarnga.”

Taihauauru i whakaturia e Kupe ki te maro-whara.

E ki ana tetahi korero tawhito, na Kupe i mau mai nga toheroa ki Aotearoa nei ka tukuna haerengia e ia ki nga takutai o te taihauaura ki nga takiwa o te taitokerau, a, nana i waiho ki reira kia tupu ai hei kai ma ana tamahine. Ko tetahi o ana tamahine, ko Marowhara, na huaina ake nga ngaru o te taihauauru hei whakamaharatanga ki tana tamahine, na reira te whakatauaki nei.

Kaore e pau, he ika unahi nui.

Ko tenei whakatauaki no Taranaki tuturu. Ko Taranaki kei waenganui i a Ati-Awa kei raro me Ngati-Ruanui i te tonga. I nga ra o nehera, he rite tonu te pakanga o enei iwi, na ka whakarite a Taranaki i a ia ki te ika nui nga unahi, e kore rawa e mate. Ko te Ati-Awa kei tetahi taha, ko Ngati-Ruanui kei tetahi, engari ahakoa te nui o nga pakanga, tino kore a Taranaki i hinga.

Nga uri a Haunui-a-papa-rangi. nana i taotao te nukuroa o Hawaiki.

Kei nga kupu o te patere i titongia ai e te kaituhi mo te poi a te ropu taitamariki o Putiki, e penei ana te takoto o te whakatauaki nei: “Nga uri a haunui-a-paparangi, nana i takahi te nukuroa o Hawaiki e.” I waihongia ai te kupu ra “taotao” ki waho, he kino te whakarongo atu e te taringa. No Whanganui tenei whakatauaki, he whakaatu ki te toa o to ratou tupuna i Hawaiki, e ai ki nga korero, i haerengia e te tupuna nei te nukuroa o Hawaiki kahore rawa i tata mai te mate ki a ia. He toa i nga wa o te pakanga, he toa hoki ki to arataki i tona iwi. Waihoki, tae noa mai ki naianei, ka mau te whakatauaki nei ki runga ki ona uri ma e noho nei i roto o Whanganui.

 

“At night, all are assembled: at day, all are scattered.”

This proverb originates from the Wairarapa district. At night, all are together for whatever is to be done (e.g. Clubs, meetings, etc.) but in the day time, all scatter i.e. to their various work, or homes, etc.) This is a favourite saying in the Wairarapa mainly applied to organisations. At first all are keen to form an organisation, but as time goes on, the faithful few are left to carry on the work. This of course applies not only to Wairarapa but to most of our organisations throughout the land.

“Eat whilst raw; cook it and it is gone.”

The intention is to eat whatever is being cooked whilst partly raw, lest the cooker be overtaken with visitors and they in turn will eat what is cooked. This of course is a selfish saying, but the intention is to expedite whatever one is doing.

“Prolific Hawaiki.”

Ancient history records that Hawaiki was noted for its abundance of food. There is a Maori chant which records: “Hastily, I return to Hawaiki, where food abounds not prepared by hand.”

“The Western seas, wherein Kupe left Marowhara.”

According to legend, it was Kupe who first introduced the toheroa to this land, and distributed them along the west coast mainly north of Auckland. He had a daughter named Marowhara, and during his journeys along the west coast, he named the waves after his daughter, hence this saying.

“It will not be consumed, for it is a fish covered with large scales.”

This saying originated from the Taranaki tribe which is bounded by Ati-Awa on the north and Ngati-Ruanui on the south. During ancient times, war constantly raged amongst these tribes. With Taranaki in the centre, it likened itself to a heavily scaled fish, unconquerable. True to its motto, and in spite of the wars which existed, Taranaki was not conquered.

“The descendants of Haunui-a-paparangi-Hanunui, who contrived to conquer the length and breadth of Hawaiki.”

This saying was modified in a chant specially composed by the writer for the Putiki Young People's Club, where the word “taotao” was replaced by “Takahi.” The former word is harsh, whilst the latter “takahi” which means “to trample” gives a similar meaning but in a milder form. This saying originates from Wanganui, and it aptly describes the courage of their ancestor, who, whilst at Hawaiki was a champion at war, and consequently overcame all his enemies. He was not only a champion at war, but was also an able leader of his tribe. The proverb has today been adopted by the young people of Wanganui with the minor amendment in the original Maori.