Legends of the Maori
Part V. — Proverbs of the Maori — Proverbs of the Maori — Some Sayings of Wisdom
Proverbs of the Maori
Proverbs of the Maori
Some Sayings of Wisdom
KO maru kai atu ko maru kai mai ka ngohengohe: Give as well as take and all is well.
He ropu hau (haere) he ropu tangata: A large party of strangers attracts onlookers.
Kapo rere te kuri: A dog snatches the food and runs.
Ka pa te ra e huri mai ana tena he ra e heke ana: If an old man is sick, little hope; if he is young, much.
He iti he iti kahikatoa: Do not despise a man of small stature—he may be as strong as the kahikatoa (a small tree, but strong and tough).
He roa te ngaromanga he iti te putanga: A man of words but not of deeds.
He ringa miti tai heke: (Whanganui) River people handy at canoe paddling.
He wahine ki uta, he kahawai ki roto ki te wai: As a woman on land so is a kahawai in the water. (The kahawai is peculiar in selecting a hook that resembles his food; so is a woman about her husband).
Ki te hamama popora te tangata e kore e mau te ika: He who yawns catches not fish (said of a person who begins a work but has not perseverance enough to finish it).
E kore e taka te parapara a ona tipuna, tukua iho ki a ia: A chip of the old block.
He pata ua ki runga, he ngutu tangata ki raro: Said of a man beset with difficulties and not able to extricate himself.
E kore e kitea te tui i nga toke i te pouri: You can no longer see to thread worms. A hint that it is time to leave off work at evening.
Tena te ringa tango parihia: Said of a diligent husband. (Parahia is a very small weed.)
Ngahuru ki runga, ngahuru ki raro ma te paroparo (kauae) e aki: Ten above, ten below (the teeth); the jaw brings them together (for half-cooked meat).page 224
E kore e hohoro e opeope o te otaota: A large force is not easily overcome.
Urunga tangata he urunga panekeneke: Man is a movable bolster.
Kohia te kai rangatira, ruia te taitea: Gather the best, reject the bad.
Marama nui a mahi kei riro i a noho: Let industry be rewarded lest idleness get the advantage.
He pai tangata e kore e reia, he kino wahine ka reia: A good man is never sought after, a bad-looking woman always.
Nau i whatu te kakahu, he taniko taku: Yours is the useful work, mine ornamental.
Tenei ano a mutu, kei roto i tona whare-pungawerewere: So evil intentions are hidden as a spider in his web.
He aha mou mo te kotahi?: What can only one do?
Ko te uri o pani: Child of an orphan (said of one who has no friends.)
Kotahi te koura a wetaweta tutakina te hiku: Don’t divide a small thing.
Ka kotia te taitapu ki Hawaiki: The way to Hawaiki is cut off—he has passed the Rubicon.
He turanga potaka: Said of a lazy fellow.
He kiore pukurua: A greedy fellow.
He pounamu kakano rua: A highly prized fellow.
Pihi kau ake te aro pai, hauhake tonu iho: Good intentions do not last long (then take advantage while they do last).
Ka tuhoa te ra, ka wairara, ka hinga: Said of human life. The sun rises to the zenith, then declines.
I kinitia i roto i te matikuku pango: By the black of his finger nail— said of a narrow escape.
Ka ki te piro o nga manu o nga tangata ka kata: A full stomach causes a bird to sing, a man to laugh.
He kuku ki te kainga. he kaka ki te haere: A pigeon at home, a noisy parrot on his travels.
Haere te amorangi ki mua, te hapai o o te taua ki muri: The priest before, the ordinary folk after, in processions.page 225
E kore e ngaro he takere waka nui: The keel of a great canoe cannot be lost.
He kuku tangai nui he kaka kai honihoni: A pigeon bolts its food, a parrot eats it bit by bit.
He puia taro nui, he ngata taniwha rau, e kore e ngaro: Many taro roots and hundreds of young dragons—you cannot destroy them all. That is, you cannot extirpate a tribe.
Taku hei piripiri, taku hei mokimoki, taku hei tawhiri, taku kati taramea: My clinging necklace, my sweet-scented neck chain, my fragrant gum, my calabash of sweetest scent.
I whea koe i te tahuritanga o te rau o te kotukutuku, i te raratanga o te waha o te koekoea?: Where were you at the time of the turning of the kotukutuku leaf, in the season when the continuous sound of the long-tailed cuckoo’s voice was heard? In other words, why did you not respond to the call to labour, in the spring of the year—digging time?
Kia whakaara koe i taku moe, ko te whatu-turei-a-Rua: If you awaken me from my sleep, let it be for the food of Rua. This food was the fruit of the hinau tree, the berries from which were cooked and made into a kind of pasty bread, not very palatable but sustaining. It was one of the winter foods of the people in forest districts. The saying is attributed to the chief Matakore., brother of Maniapoto.
Kua whakakoikoi kapara: Speared with the sharp point made of the hard resinous heart of the pinewood. A saying with reference to anyone stricken with lung disease.
E iti noa ana, na te aroha: Although it (the gift) be small, it is a gift of love.
E ko te matakahi maire:. Ah, ’tis the wedge of the hard maire wood. Applied to a warrior who forces a way through his enemies, like a wedge used to split a log of timber.
Haere i muri i te tuara o Te Hapuku; kia kai ai koe i te kai whakairo o te rangi: When you go abroad you will do well to follow Te Hapuku (the high chief of Hawke’s Bay) and you will feast on all the choicest of foods.
He pai kai e kore e roa te tirohanga; he pai kanohi e roa te tirohanga: The goodness of food is brief, you will not gaze upon it long, but a beautiful face will long be gazed upon. (Better a handsome woman as wife than a rich one).page 226
He wahine, he oneone, e ngaro ai te tangata: It is woman and land that chiefly destroy men, i.e., are the causes of most wars.
Ka maunu te puru o Taumarere: Released is the plug of Taumarere spring (at an assembly place of the Ngapuhi tribe, near the Bay of Islands), hence this flood of people.
Ka ruha te kupenga, ka pae ki te one: When a net is old it is cast away on the sand, useless. An expression used by a woman deserted by her husband.
Kia ki ki te rourou iti a haere: An expression used when giving food to a traveler—let the small basket of the wayfarer be filled.
Maroa-nui-a-Tia, hei kona ra; haere ake tenei, to ake te papa ki te whare: Farewell, O Great Maroa-o-Tia (a place north of Lake Taupo, on the high pumice country, a place where water and food were scarce); we shall go hence and close the door of the house—no more travelling.
Me he aroaro tamahine: Pleasing as a young girl’s beauty. Said of a fine carved house or other handsome object or scene.
Me he manu motu i te mahanga: Like a bird escaped from a snare; a fugitive who escapes from a lost battle or an ambuscade.
Moku ano enei ra, mo te ra ka hekeheke, he rakau hinga ki te mano wai: Let these last remaining days be mine; I am like the declining sun, a tree fallen in the flood of waters. An expression used by aged people.
Taku ringaringa te ngaua e te kuri: No dog shall dare to bite my hand.
Tau mahi’ra e te iti kahurangi: Your work is well done, my little treasure.
The following are some tribal pepeha or clan sayings:
Rotorua matangi rau: Rotorua of a hundred blustering winds.
Ngati-Ruanui mohoao nui: Ngati-Ruanui the tribe of great bushmen, i.e., skilled in forest craft.
Arawa mangai nui: The great-mouthed Arawa, i.e., great orators or talkers.
Tuhoe moumou kai, moumou taonga, moumou tangata ki te Po: Tuhoe the wasters of food and property of mankind.
Waikato taniwha rau. He piko he taniwha, he piko he taniwha: Waikato of many water-monsters, i.e., chiefs. At every bend of the river, a chief.page 227
Te Atiawa o runga te rangi, te toki te tangatanga i te ra: The Atiawa are like an axe whose fastenings cannot be loosened by the sun.
Turanga tangata rite: Turanga where all men are equal.
Te Wairoa tapoko ran: The Wairoa where many are lost. A reference to the supposed witchcraft-working propensities of the people.
Nga uri a Toa Rangatira raua ko Turangapeke, taonga hoatu noa atu : The descendants of Toa (the eponymous ancestor of Ngati-Toa) give presents without expecting a return. In praise of chieftainlike generosity.
Motai tangata rau: Motai of the many friends. A West Coast chief who could command many men.page breakpage break