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


XII. Concerning Conduct in time of War, etc



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XII. Concerning Conduct in time of War, etc.


  1. I nga ra o te pai, hei pai; i nga ra o te kino, hei kino.
    In times of peace dwell peacefully; in times of war be brave.
    Or, In the good days be good; in the evil days be evil.
    Here, again, is a double play on words which possess much meaning.
    “In peace he was the gale of spring,
    In war the mountain storm.”

  2. Ruia taitea, kia tu ko taikaka anake.
    Shake off the sap-wood, and let the hard heart-wood only stand.
    In a totara tree (Podocarpus totara) the taitea is the outer, white or sapwood, which soon decays, and near the centre is the taikaka or hardest wood.
    Meaning: Let the common people and children stay at home, and the warriors only go to fight.

  3. Rangitihi upoko i takaia ki te akatea.
    Rangitihi’s head was bound up with the white-flowering creeper (Metrosideros albiflora).
    This hero of old, when his skull was split with his enemy’s club, had it bound up with this creeping shrub, and, although his men had retreated, led them on again to battle, and gained the day.
    Meaning: The truly brave man never despairs.

  4. Ko te upoko i takaia ki te akatea.
    The head which was bound with the white-flowering creeper.
    Used for a brave warrior:—He binds up his head, or wounds, and fights away.
    A proverb similar to the last, and from the same incident. [138]

  5. Ka mahi te tawa uho ki te riri!
    Well done tawa-kernel fighting away!

  6. He tawa para! he whati kau taana!
    A tawa pulp! he only runs away!

These two proverbs I have taken together, on account of their simile. The tawa tree (Nosodaphne tawa) bears a large purple fruit, in which there is a single stone or kernel, not wholly unlike that of the date; this is exceedingly hard, and cannot easily be broken; the pulp or flesh of the fruit is very soft when fully ripe; hence, from the one fruit, the comparison is drawn of the hero and the coward.

  1. Te waka pukatea; te waka kohekohe.
    The canoe (made of the) pukatea tree; the canoe (made of the) kohekohe tree.
    The wood of those trees is alike soft, and won’t last long in the water; besides canoes made of them are both heavy (when water-logged) and slow. Pukatea = Atherosperma novæ-zelandiæ; Kohekohe = Dysoxylum spectabile.
    This proverb is used of cowards.

  2. He hiore hume! and, He whiore hume tenei tangata!
    Both terms derived from dogs, which clap their tails between their legs and sneak away. Used also of cowards.

  3. Titiro to mata ki a Rehua, ki te mata kihai i kamo.
    Look up with thine eyes at the planet Mars (or Jupiter), at the eye which never twinkles.
    Meaning; Never allow your eyes to wink when face to face in hand-to-hand combat.

  4. He koura koia kia whero wawe?
    (Art thou) indeed a crawfish, to turn red, the moment (thou art) thrown on the fire?
    Said to a foe in hand-to-hand encounter, who boasts you have not yet hurt him.

  5. Tini whetu, e iti te pokeao.
    The stars are many, but a little black cloud hides them.
    Meaning: A small party of determined warriors may beat a large number.

  6. Ma wai e rou ake te whetu o te rangi ka taka kei raro?
    Who can reach (or scrape) with a crooked stick the stars of heaven that they should fall below?
    Meaning: Can you take captive a powerful chief?

  7. He mate i te marama.
    The moon dies, or, it is of the nature of the moon to wane or die, (and returns again, understood).
    Meaning: Not so, however, with you; so beware of rashness. [139]

  8. Kia mate a Ururoa! kei mate Tarakihi.
    Let us die fighting bravely, as the fierce shark, Ururoa, struggling to the last! and not die quietly like the fish Tarakihi (Cheilodactylus macropterus).

  9. He pokeke Uenuku i tu ai.
    By means of the dark cloud the rainbow is seen to advantage brightly.
    Meaning: A chief looks well at the head of a large tribe.479

  10. Me te koteo mau kupenga!
    Like the post in the sea to which the ends of the net are fixed to keep it open.
    Said of an able chief whose influence keeps his tribe together, so that their enemies are finally enclosed and taken, as fish in a net.

  11. E moe ana te mata hii tuna, e ara ana te mata hii taua.
    Sleeping are the eyes of the eel-fisher; wakeful are the eyes of the war-fisher.
    Meaning: That the eyes and thoughts of the fisherman enjoy peaceful rest at nights, and he even nods between his bites when fishing; but those of the planner and conductor of battles know no rest.

  12. Tatai korero i ngaro; tatai korero e rangona.
    Concerted schemes are hidden = come to nothing; concerted plans are heard = carried out.
    Meaning: Only those schemes which are agreeable to the tribe will be attended to.

  13. Hinga iho, tomo atu te pa.
    (The enemy), falling (before you), enter the fort.
    Meaning: Follow up quickly an advantage; i.e., having defeated the enemy in the open, storm their village.

  14. Te koura unuhanga a Tama.
    The crayfish which was pulled out (of its hole) after long pulling and working by Tama.
    Tama is said to be one of the first who found out the plan of dislodging crawfish from their holes and using them as food.
    Meaning: Not easy to dislodge a warrior from his strong-hold, but got out at last!

  15. Turaungatao e, E pewhea ana te mamae? Taaria iho. Kihai he hangahanga ake te kai a Turaungatao!
    O Stand-against-a-hundred-spears, what kind of pain (is caused by a wound in battle)? Wait a while. It was not long (before he knew) the food of Stand-against-a-hundred-spears. [140]
    This question is supposed to be put by a young man before the battle begins to an old warrior, and half slightingly. After the battle is over, and the young fellow wounded, the veteran says to him, “Ah! You thought that what I had had so much of (my food) was a trifle, did you? What think you now? “He jests at scars that never felt a wound.”—Shakespeare.

  16. E! ho te matakahi maire!
    Lo! the iron-wood wedge!
    Used of a warrior.
    Meaning; He separates the enemy before him, as the wedge of the hard Maire wood (Santalum cunninghamii480) splits up a log.

  17. E tia! me te wheke e pupuru ana!
    Though stabbed through (with my spear), he holds on (to it) like a cuttle-fish with its arms and suckers.
    Said by a warrior of his hand-spear in fight.

Another saying of similar meaning:—

  1. Me te mea kei te paru e titi ana!
    As difficult to pull my spear back out of his body as if I had stuck it into sticky holding mud.

  2. Waiho i te toka tu moana!
    Stand firm and compact as the surf-beaten rock in the ocean!
    Used by a chief in battle.

  3. Waiho kia oroia, he whati toki nui.
    Just leave the big stone axe to be re-sharpened, its edge is merely chipped a bit.
    Meaning: Though some of the braves of our tribe are killed, the remnant, including the chief, will fight the more fiercely.

  4. Ekore e ngaro, he takere waka nui.
    The hull of a large canoe cannot be hidden.
    Meaning: Although we have lost many in battle, we shall not become extinct; our tribe is numerous.

  5. He puia taro nui, he ngata taniwha rau, ekore e ngaro.
    A cluster of flourishing Taro plants (Colocasia antiquorum), a hundred devouring slugs, or leeches, cannot be extirpated = It is difficult to destroy them all. So with a large tribe.

  6. Kore te hoe, kore te taataa.
    Alas! without paddles and baler!
    A canoe in this state must be lost. Applied to a tribe in a helpless state.

  7. He pukepuke maunga, e pikitia e te tangata; he pukepuke moana, e ekeina e te waka; he pukepuke tangata, ekore e pikitia e te tangata. [141]
    The mountain’s summit can be climbed by man; the waves of the ocean can be topped by a canoe; the human mount cannot be scaled by man.
    Meaning: If he had sought shelter on the mountain, or at sea, we could have followed him; but being sheltered by a great chief, we cannot follow him there.
    N.B.—Note the play on the three mounts—pukepuke; which are wholly lost in translation.


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