W hat I believe to be genuine and authentic the collected publications of William Colenso



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VI.—Against a Boaster, etc.


  1. He nui to ngaromanga, he iti te putanga.
    Long thy absence, little seen (with thee) on return.

  2. E wha o ringaringa, e wha o waewae!
    Thou hast four hands and four legs!
    A word said quietly to a boasting fellow.

  3. He kaakaa waha nui!
    A noisy-mouthed parrot!
    Applied to a chatterer, or boasting person.

  4. Me ho mai nga hau o Rirapa ki uta.
    Let the exploits of Rirapa be brought to land.

  5. Kei uta nga hau o Rirapa te tu ai.
    ‘Tis on shore that the fine doings of Rirapa are seen.
    Both used of a lazy, hulking fellow, who is lazy in a fishing-canoe at sea, etc.

  6. 92. Whaka-Ruaputahanga i a koe!
    Thou art making thyself appear as big as the great lady chief of old Ruaputahanga!
    Said to a boaster. [128]
    Here again, no doubt, is a figurative name; or a secondary name, often added on account of qualities, doings, etc.; Ruaputahanga meaning a store whence goods, etc., were always being issued. The liberal person was always liked and immortalized.

  7. Toku toa he toa rangatira.
    My courage is that of a chief; or, my courage is derived from my ancestors.
    Said, but rarely, to a mushroom-man of to-day, who boasts of himself or his doings.
    Here it should be borne in mind that a chief of to-day is the descendant of ancient chiefs.

  8. Ko nga rangatira a te tau titoki!
    Chiefs of the titoki year!
    This needs explanation. The titoki, or titongi tree (Alectryon excelsum), from the fruit of which the natives formerly extracted an oil for anointing the hair and persons of their chiefs, only bore fruit plentifully (according to them) every fourth year; so that, in that year, all hands could use the oil and a little red pigment, and thus, for once, look like a chief without being so.
    (A daw in borrowed plumes.)

  9. Tiketike ao, papaku po!
    A tall pinnacle by daylight, shallow water by night.
    Lit. Lofty day, shallow night.
    Meaning: Valiant and boasting, when the sun is shining and all is well and no danger near; but in the darkness and dread, low enough.

  10. Tiketike ngahuru, hakahaka raumati!
    Tall at harvest, low at planting season!
    Meaning: He boasts enough in the autumn when there is plenty of food and little to do; but in the wearisome and heavy working spring season he is not to be seen.

  11. Ko wai hoki koia te wahine pai rawa? Te wehenga atu ano i a Muturangi!
    Who, indeed, now is the beautiful woman? All that ceased for ever with the last great lady (i.e., when she died).
    This saying is used when a woman is vain of herself; or, when persons boast of the good old times, when better, or handsomer females lived.
    The ancient beauty’s name, Muturangi, means,—the last of the great lady chieftainesses. Rangi (= sky, heaven) is an ancient name for a principal chief, whether male or female,—from Rangi, the first parent or producer of man; and was also used by way of high title, or address. I have no doubt, however, of its here having a highly figurative meaning, like other proper names in many of their proverbs. [129]


VII.—Against Inhospitality.


  1. He kuukuu ki te kaainga, he kaakaa ki te haere.
    A pigeon at home, a parrot abroad.
    The New Zealand pigeon is a silent bird; the parrot is a noisy screamer. The pigeon remains quietly sitting on the high trees; the parrot flies about, making the forest resound with its loud cries.
    This proverb is applied to an inhospitable chief; he does not raise the cheerful inspiriting shout of “Welcome!” to travellers nearing his village; but, when he travels, then, on approaching any place, he sounds his trumpet to get food prepared, and afterwards finds fault with the victuals given him.

  2. E riri Kai-po, ka haere Kai-ao.
    When Eat-by-night is angry, Eat-by-day leaves.
    Meaning: If the illiberal mean chief be angry (shown by withholding food and welcome), the liberal generous men continue on their journey.
    It was considered a very great insult for a travelling party to pass by a pa or village without calling. Kai-po is the common term for a mean selfish person.

  3. Kei kai i te ketekete.
    Lest there be nothing to eat but vain regrets.
    Meaning: Bad for both sides—the visitors and visited—to have only excuses for food.
    This proverb was sometimes used by a chief as a warning to his tribe, when expecting visitors.

  4. He kotuku kai-whakaata.
    The white crane eats leisurely, after viewing his food and his own shadow in the still water.
    This is said of a chief who looks after due preparations being made for his expected visitors; also, of one who quietly and courteously awaits the arrival and sitting of others to their repast before he eats his own food.


VIII.—Relating to Hidden Thoughts.


  1. He kokonga whare e kitea.
    The dark corner of a house can be seen and searched;—(understood, to complete the meaning) but not the heart of man.

  2. He taanga kakaho ka kitea e te kanohi; tena ko te laanga ngakau ekore e kitea.
    A mark, or knot (or placing), of a reed can be seen with the eye, but that of the heart can not be seen.

  3. He ta kakaho e kitea, ko te ta o te ngakau ekore e kitea.
    A knot, joint, or mark, on the cutting-grass reed is seen, but the mark or knot (heaving or thought) of the heart is not seen. [130]

    I have often heard these last two proverbs used. They fall with bitter effect on the guilty person, often causing deep shames, as the New Zealanders abominated slander. The reference in both is to the kakaho reeds or flower-stalks, (cutting-grass = Arundo conspicua), formerly used for the inner walls and ceilings of a chief’s house; these were sometimes partly coloured black in a kind of pattern of scroll-work, and when regularly laid side by side had a pleasing effect; any irregularity, however, in pattern or in laying, was speedily detected by the practised eye of the Maori; hence the proverb.



  4. He nui pohue toro ra raro.
    The convolvulus (roots are) many and spread below (the soil):—supply, just as the secret thoughts of men’s hearts are hidden within.

  5. He tiitii rere ao ka kitea, he tiitii rere po ekore e kitea.
    The petrel which flies by day is seen; the petrel which flies by night is not seen.
    One species of petrel always flies back to its mountain home from the ocean very late in the evening; I have very often heard its cry, but never saw it on the wing.
    This proverb is said of men’s thoughts; also of night-attacks from the enemy.

  6. Ko to kai waewae te tuku mai ki au, kia huaina atu, e arotau ana mai.
    Thou allowest thy feet (or thy footsteps) to come hitherwards to me, that it may be said abroad, thou lovest to come hither.
    Often said by a woman who doubts the affection of her lover; also by the people of a village who doubt the professions of a visitor.

  7. Katahi ka auraki mai ki te whanau a te mangumangu kikino, i te aitanga a Punga i a au e!
    How strange! to struggle to hasten hither of thy own accord to the offspring of the black and ugly, to me the begotten of Punga! Punga is said to be the father or progenitor of all the ugly and deformed fish, as sharks and rays, and also of lizards.
    This proverb is applied by a man to a woman who had deserted him as her lover, but who returns to him again.




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