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


X. Against Making Much of Small Matters



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X. Against Making Much of Small Matters.


  1. Kei maaku toku.
    Do not wet my garment.
    Lit. Let not mine be wetted: the passive being the more genteel, or mannerly, way of expressing it. The whole saying is, perhaps, worthy of notice:—
    Kei maaku toku kakahu! A, maaku noa atu? Kapaa, he wera ite ahi, ka kino; tena, he maaku i te wai,—horahia atu ki te ra kua maroke!—
    Don’t wet my garment! And yet, if it were wet, what then? But if, indeed, it were burnt by fire, that would be bad; as it is, however, merely wet with a little water,—just spread it in the sun, and it is dry again in no time!
    Meaning: Don’t complain of trifles.
    In the olden time, when no chief ever raised a cup, or calabash, of water to his lips to drink, but slaves went round giving them water, by pouring [134] it out of a gurgling calabash into the palm of the chief’s hand, held beneath his under-lip,—no doubt it was a ticklish matter to give drink to all, sitting closely together, without wetting their scanty clothing. And so, this story, or saying, was invented to ease the poor slave!

Here is another, and a good one, having the same meaning:—

  1. Tineia te ahi! auahi tahi!
    Put out the fire! there’s nothing but smoke!
    A sentence, or exclamation, often made, as I have too painfully experienced in their close houses without a chimney! But, again, let us have the whole story:—
    Tineia te ahi! auahi tahi! Ha! he au uta! Kapaa, ko te au ki Katikati, ae.
    Put out the fire! there’s nothing but smoke! Exactly so! but it is smoke on land! If now, it were the whirling currents at Katikati,—then, indeed, you would have something to complain of.
    One of the peculiarities of this sentence is the play upon words, which is lost in the translation. The same word (au) is used for smoke as for a strong current or rapid; it is also used for the gall of the liver of any animal; and frequently for anything very bitter. Ergo; Just as smoke is to the eyes, so is gall to the taste, and strong fear or dread to the heart, or inner feelings. Moreover, the name of the place with the fearful rapids is Katikati = to bite sharply and quickly; to sting like nettles, thorns, etc.; to draw and pain, as a blister, mustard-plaster, or living “Portuguese man-of-war”—one of the stinging Medusæ.

  2. Ka uia tonutia e koe, ka roa tonu te ara; ka kore koe e uiui, ka poto te ara.
    If (the length of the road) be continually enquired after by thee, then it will prove very long; but if thou wilt not keep asking, then it will be short.
    This speaks for itself. It is just the same with us.

  3. Pipitori nga kanohi; koko taia nga waewae; whenua i mamao, tenei rawa.
    With sharp bird’s eyes and quick moving feet, land at a distance will soon be gained.
    Similar in meaning to the last—a word of comfort to young, or new travellers.

  4. Imua, ata haere; i muri, whatiwhati waewae.
    Those who leave early on a journey travel leisurely; those who leave late, and have to overtake the others, hurt their feet.
    Lit. Foremost, travel gently; hindmost, break legs.

  5. Kia noho i taku kotore; kia ngenge te pakihiwi.
    Be thou sitting behind my back (lit., anus), and let thy shoulder become weary.
    A saying for paddling in a canoe.
    Meaning: All work has unpleasantnesses. “No gains without pains,” [135]

  6. He manga-a-wai koia, kia kore e whitikia?
    Is it indeed a big river, that cannot be crossed.
    A saying often used, meaning: It is as nothing, why make such a fuss about it.


XI. Against Beginning War, etc.


  1. He kai kora nui te riri!
    War (is like) a devouring fire kindled by a spark. (James, III. 5.)

  2. Ka tahuna te ururua ki te ahi, ekore e tumau tonu ki te wahi i tahuna atu ai; kaore, ka kaa katoa te parae.
    When the tangled fern and shrubs are fired, (the fire) will not always be fixed in the place of firing, but will burn up the whole open country.
    Meaning: The sure extension of warfare.

  3. Kei uta te pakanga, kei tai te whiunga.
    Though the fighting is begun inland, the spreading and finishing will be at the sea, or sea-side.
    Lit. Inland the fighting, at sea-side the flinging,
    Meaning: In war the innocent suffer for the guilty.

  4. E tae koutou ki uta, kei mau ki tai ki Tu, puhia he angina! e mau ki tai ki Noho, ma te huhu e popo, e hanehane.
    When you reach land, do not hold with the fighting-side, or you will be blown away as thin air; but hold with the side of Peace, that you may live long and die naturally.
    Lit. When you land, do not hold to the standing-side (or the side of Tu = god of war), blown away, thin air; but hold to the sitting (or quietly-dwelling) side, for the worms gradual decay and skin disease.
    This is a difficult sentence to render into English; but it is well worth preserving on account of its alleged antiquity. It is said, in their legends, to be the parting advice of an old chief, at “Hawaiki,” named Houmaitawhiti, to his sons, on their leaving “Hawaiki” for New Zealand. Of course, the meaning is, “Hold fast to peace.”
    N.B.—Note the opposition in the words Tu and Noho; Tu, standing, and restlessness = War; Noho, sitting, and settledness = Peace.

  5. E horo ranei i a hoe te tau o Rongomaitakupe?
    Canst thou level the rocky ridge (or shoal) of Rongomaitakupe?
    Meaning: Canst thou cause peace when war begins?
    Rongomaitakupe is an extensive shoal or ridge of rocks, on which a terrible surf is always breaking. Here one is reminded of similar questions in the ancient Eastern book of Job, respecting the taming of Behemoth and Leviathan. [136]

  6. He ika kai ake i raro.
    A fish eats upwards from below.
    The fish which you have caught, and is lying dead in your canoe, commenced nibbling from below in the depths of sea, and out of sight.
    Meaning: From trifling disputes bloody wars arise, ending in the death of chiefs;—often poetically termed ika = fish.

  7. Ko Nukutaumatangi, ko te hara; waiho te raru mo Rupe.
    Nukutaumatangi was the cause of all the trouble; but Rupe got caught and punished for it.
    Said to a person who gets others punished for his evil doings.
    Here, also, from the names, there may be more of meaning than appears at first sight:—Nukutaumatangi = off to windy ridge; Rupe, the opposite (being also a name for their proverbially quiet and harmless pigeon).

  8. Kaua e hinga mai ki runga i a au, kapaa iana he urunga oneone, ko te urunga mau tonu.
    Don’t lean on me (as a pillow), if indeed (I were as a) pillow of earth, that would remain firm.
    Meaning: Don’t look to me for help.

  9. Ka tae ki Weriweri, he tohe rara, tona otinga.
    When (two) arrive at (the place called) Angry-dispute, the end is actual strife. (Angry-dispute is here spoken of as a place).
    Meaning: Keep your temper.

  10. Kaati ra to penei, ka tae kau taaua ki Weriweri.
    Leave off thy (saying, or doing) thus, for you and I have fully come to Angry-dispute.
    A timely word of warning; similar to the last.

  11. He tohe taau ki Kaiwere?
    Art thou striving to reach Kaiwere?
    Meaning: Provoke me a little longer and you will be hurt.

  12. Ka karanga Taiha, kia apititutia, kia whana te hingahinga nga tupapaku; ka karanga Maero, E, kawhakina tetahi momo ki te kaainga.
    Taiha cried, Close ranks with the enemy standing, that their slain bodies may early fall! Maero cried, Better let some retreat as posterity for our possessions!
    Meaning: Discretion better than rashness.
    “The better part of valour is discretion.”—Shakespeare.

  13. Ka riri Taiha, ka kata Maero.
    When Taiha (is) angry, Maero laughs (or is merry).
    Meaning: Keep your temper. [137]

  14. I paia koia te reinga?
    Is the entrance to the lower world barred (or closed)?477
    Said to one desirous of war.

  15. He iti tangata e tupu; he iti toki, e iti tonu iho.
    A little human-being will grow; a little stone-axe always continues little.
    N.B.—An axe (though only of stone) was formerly among the most valuable of their goods. Cook says,478 he could not get the New Zealanders to sell him any of their stone axes, not for anything he had in his ship.
    Meaning: A man is of more value than any property.




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