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



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IX. Respecting Caution, etc.


  1. Ehia motunga o te weka i te mahanga?
    How often does the wood-hen break away from the snare?
    Meaning: Take care, you will be caught at last.

  2. Ka hoki ranei te weka i motu ki te mahanga?
    Will the escaped wood-hen indeed return to the snare?
    Meaning: “Once bit, twice shy.” [110]

  3. Hoki atu i kona, ko te manu i motu i te mahanga ekore e taea te whai.
    Go back from where you are, it is useless pursuing the bird escaped from the snare.
    Meaning: It is useless to attempt to take me in again. Said to have been used in ancient times by a lady who ran away from her husband; he pursued her to bring her back, and she got round a headland at low-water; on his reaching the place, the tide was breaking against the base of the cliffs, when she called to him from the top using those words, which have since passed into a proverb.

  4. He pureirei whakamatuatanga.
    A faithful fatherly tuft of rushes.
    This is said of a good solid tuft of rushes in a swamp, which, in crossing the swamp, you stand on to rest a while, and to look around before you take the next step. A word of caution for many things. “Look before you leap.”

  5. Ka tuwhaina te huware ki te whenua, e hoki atu ranei ki tou waha?
    When the spittle is spit out on the ground, will it return to thy mouth again?
    Meaning: (much as the last), “Look before you leap.”

  6. Kia mau koe ki te kupu a tou matua.
    Hold fast to the advice of thy father (or guardian).
    A word of caution often given to the young,—as the dying advice, or teachings of the departed, were always strongly inculcated.

  7. Kia whakatupu tangata, kaua hei tutu.
    Show yourself (lit., be growing up) a true man; never be disobedient.
    Often said to the young. (I. Cor. xvi., 13).

  8. Kapo atu koe i te kai i nga ringaringa o nga pakeke, a e taea ranei e koe te whai i nga turanga o tupuna?
    Thou snatchest food roughly from the hands of the elders, and dost thou think thou wilt be able to follow in the steps of thy ancestors?
    Applied to a chief’s child, on his snatching food, or anything, from the hands of aged persons.

  9. Ata! ina te kakii ka taretare noa; ka maaro tonu nga uaua o te kakii!
    How disgusting! to see the neck turning from side to side; and the sinews of the neck strained to the utmost!
    Said of a person looking over the other baskets of cooked food set before a party, and coveting what is placed before his neighbours or companions.
    The peculiar terms used are those which refer to a bird on the look-out up in a tree. [132]

  10. Kaore a te rakau whakaaro, kei te tohunga te whakaaro.
    The wood has no thoughts, such only belong to its carver, or designer.

  11. Tirohia, he moko.
    Examine well a tattooed countenance! (Meaning: A nobleman.)
    Said by a man to another who stares rudely at him.

  12. He whakatau karanga, tino taka iho a Te Kaahu.
    At the very first attempt to make the call (to dinner), down rushes Te Kaahu.
    Applied to a person who jumps at an invitation which was scarcely really meant. The person mentioned figuratively by name, Te Kaahu, is, translated literally, the Hawk.

  13. Mate wareware te uri o Kaitoa; takoto ana te paki ki tua.
    Foolishly died the offspring of Recklessness, the fine weather was ready close at hand.

  14. Mate papakore te uri o Kaitoa.
    The offspring of Rashness died heedlessly.
    These last two proverbs have the same meaning; the reference is to those who went hastily to sea in their canoe when a gale was coming on, and all miserably perished; fine weather, too, being near.
    Meaning: Be prudent; don’t act rashly.

  15. Kei mau ki te pou pai, he pou e eketia e te kiore; tena ko te pou kino, ekore e eketia e te kiore.
    Do not select a fine nice post (for your storehouse), as that kind of post will be climbed up to the top by the rat, but the ugly post will not be so ascended by the rat.
    This is advice from a father to his son about taking a wife (which has become a proverb)—meaning: Do not seek so much for a handsome person, who may cause you trouble, for you may be better off and dwell quieter with a plain one.

  16. He pirau kai ma te arero e kape.
    The tongue soon detects and rejects (a bit of) rotten or bitter food.
    Meaning: Any evil thing may be quickly found out and thrown aside.

  17. Honoa te pito ora ki te pito mate.
    Join the living end to the weak one.
    Used sometimes for raising a weak or impoverished chief or tribe, by alliance or marriage with a stronger one.
    An allusion is here made to the ends of kumara, or sweet potatoes; in planting, they make use of the sprouting end of the root as seed, and so, sometimes, place two such ends in one little hillock to make sure of plants.

  18. Honoa te pito mata ki te pito maoa.
    Eat together (lit., join) the underdone end with the nicely-cooked end (of the sweet potatoes, understood). [133] Meaning: Don’t be too nice.

  19. Kai mata whiwhia, maoa riro kee!
    Food underdone (is) your own (lit., possessed), fully-cooked goes (with others).
    Meaning: Be quick at your cooking and eating, or visitors may eat it for you.

  20. Tunu huruhuru, kei wawe tu ana a Puwhakaoho.
    Roast (your bird) with its feathers on; (or your rat) with its fur, lest you be suddenly surprised by an unwelcome visitor.—Here figuratively named Startling-trumpet.
    The meaning of this is the same as the last.

  21. Kakariki tunua, kakariki otaina.
    Eat up the green parrots whether roasted or raw.
    Meaning: Be not over nice; as a party travelling in the woods, or going to fight, has no time for much cooking.

  22. Hohoro te kai ma tatou; akuenei tu ana Rae-roa, noho ana Rae-poto!
    Hasten the food for us; soon (the) Long-foreheads (will be) standing (here, when) Short-foreheads (will have to) sit down.
    Raeroa, or Long-forehead, is a name for chiefs; while Raepoto, or Short-forehead, is a name for the common men. I suspect this arose from the old manner of dressing their hair,476 in which that of the male chiefs was drawn up tightly in front and secured at the top by a knot, or band; while that of the lower people hung loosely down. The New Zealanders, always a hard-working people, were quite alive to the English proverb of “Quick at meat, quick at work.”




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