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



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XIII Miscellaneous.


  1. I motu mai i whea? te rimu o te moana.
    Whence was the drifting sea-weed torn?
    Sometimes used of a stranger.

  2. He rimu pae noa!
    A sea-weed driven about!
    Used by a wanderer concerning himself. I have known this saying used in a very melancholy way by a young man, a lover, when discarded by his love, and he travelling from place to place to forget his grief. It struck me as being very poetical.

  3. I taia to moko ki te aha?
    To what purpose was your face tattooed?
    A cutting sarcasm to a finely tattooed man, when he acts cowardly or meanly. As only nobles and chiefs were tattooed.

  4. Kapaa ianei he matua whare e hinga ana, ka hangaa ano, kua oti; ano ko te marama kua ngaro, kua ara ano.
    If indeed your father had fallen like a house, then he could be raised again and finished anew; or if he were as the moon and died, then he would return again.
    This saying was too often used by the watchers around a dead chief to his children, to keep up their incessant wailing for their father.

  5. Ka tata ki a koe nga taru o Tura!
    The weeds of Tura are near thee!
    Meaning: Thou art getting grey-haired. Tura was a grey-headed man of old; his story is a highly curious one.

  6. Ka ruha te kupenga, ka pae kei te akau.
    When the fishing-net gets old, it is drifted on the shore.
    Said by an old woman to her husband who neglects her.

Another of similar meaning:—

  1. He kaha ano, ka motumotu!
    A rope indeed, but become old and broken up!
    Meaning: My beauty and strength are gone, I can no longer serve you. You love a younger wife. [142]

Another of like meaning:—

  1. Kua pae nei hoki, te koputunga ngaru ki te one.
    The white foam of the surf is cast up and left on the shore.
    Said by a woman getting grey-haired, when her husband seeks a new wife.

  2. Ka tangi te pipiwharauroa, ko nga karere a Mahuru.
    The cries of the glossy cuckoo are the heralds of warmth (or spring).
    The little cuckoo (Cuculus lucidus) is a migratory bird, and arrives here in early summer.

  3. Penei me te pipiwharauroa.
    Like the glossy cuckoo (in his actions).
    Applied to a man who deserts his children; as this bird (like the English cuckoo) lays its eggs in another bird’s nest, and deserts them.

I give now a few (out of many) short and beautiful proverbial sayings, mostly poetical, and used by the New Zealanders in their songs:—

  1. Me he korokoro tuii
    As eloquent as the throat of the tuii (the sweet-singing “parson-bird”).

  2. Me he manu au e kakapa!
    I’m all of a flutter like a poor caught bird!

  3. Me he mea ko Kopu!
    (She is) as beautiful as the rising of the morning star!

  4. Me he takapu araara.
    As beautiful as the silvery, iridescent belly of the araara fish (Caranx georgianus) when first caught.
    Ancient European poets have thus spoken of the dolphin.

  5. Me he toroa ngungunu!
    Like an albatross folding its wings up neatly.
    Used of a neat and compact placing of one’s flowing mats or garments.

  6. Me te Oturu!
    Her eyes as large and brilliant as the full moon rising over the dark hills in a clear sky.

  7. Me te rangi ka paruhi.
    Just like a delightful tranquil day; or, a fine calm evening.

  8. Moku ano enei ra, mo te ra ka hekeheke; he rakau ka hinga ki te mano wai!
    Let these few days be for me, for the declining sun; a tree falling through many floods of waters.
    Meaning: Be kind and considerate to the aged.
    Used by the old, and often with effect; of which I knew a remarkable instance that happened in 1852, when Mr. Donald McLean, the Land Purchase Commissioner, paid the chief Te Hapuku, the first moneys for lands [143] at Hawke’s Bay. An old chief, named Te Wereta, who resided at Wharaurangi, between Castle Point and Cape Palliser, uttered these words, and he got a lion’s share of that money—and he lived more than twenty years after.

Another of similar meaning:—

  1. Maaku tenei, ma te ra e too ana. He aha kei a koe? Kei te ra e huru ake ana.
    Leave this for me, for the setting son. Why shouldst thou care about it? the sun just sprouting up (or beginning life).
    I scarcely recollect a single instance of those words being advanced by the aged, (in former years), and not heeded by the younger folks. It always seemed, to me, to form an admirable trait in their character; one, no doubt, grounded on ancient custom.

  2. Whangaia ta taaua tuahine, he tangi i a taaua.
    Let our little sister be fed and nourished, to mourn over you and me (when we die).
    Meaning: That a widow’s mourning is soon over, for she marries again; but with a sister it is lasting and true.
    This is also eminently shown in the Greek tragedies, by Antigone and Electra.—Sophocles.

  3. Taku hei piripiri, taku hei mokimoki, taku hei tawhiri, taku katitaramea.
    My necklace of scented moss; my necklace of fragrant fern; my necklace of odorous shrubs; my sweet-smelling locket of Taramea.
    This affectionate and pretty distich was often sung to a little child when fondling it, expressive of love. A short explanation may be given of the four plants mentioned in it. Piripiri is a fine horizontal moss-like Hepaticœ (Lophocolea novœ-zealandiœ and other allied species) found in the dense forests; Mokimoki is the fern Doodia caudata; Tawhiri is the shrub, or small tree, Pittosporum tenuifolium; Taramea is the Alpine plant Aciphylla colensoi. From the two last a fragrant gum was obtained; that, however, from the needle-pointed Aciphylla only through much ceremony, labour, and trouble,—and, I may say, pain,—gently indicated in the prefix given to it in the chaunt—kati = sudden sharp prick, or puncture. All those scents were much prized by the New Zealanders, who wore them, in little sachets suspended to their necks.

  4. E iti noa ana, na te aroha.
    (The gift) is very small indeed, still (it is given) from love.

  5. To Kakawai ngako nui, aroaro tahuri kee.
    Ah! you take my fine fat Kahawai fish (Arripis salar), but you turn away your face from me.
    Applied to one who receives presents, but returns no love. [144]

  6. He manu aute e taea te whakahoro!
    A flying-kite made of paper mulberry bark can be made to fly fast! (away, by lengthening the cord).
    Used by a lover, expressive of impatience at not being able to get away to see the beloved one.

  7. Na to tamahine ka pai i takina mai ai tenei kekeno ki konei.
    It was thy exceedingly pretty daughter which drew this seal to land here.
    This speaks for itself, and would be doubly suitable for such a person coming by sea; in the olden times most visits were made by water.
    N.B.—The verb taki (pass. takina), means to forcibly draw a captured fish to land out of the water.

  8. E kimi ana i nga kawai i toro ki tawhiti.
    (He is) seeking after the tips of running branches which extended to a distance.
    Used with reference to any one claiming distant or lost relationship.
    N.B.—The terms used for runners, or running branchlets, and their spreading, are taken from those of trailing plants, as the convolvulus, gourd, etc.

  9. E raro rawakore, e runga tinihanga.
    Poor and without goods are those of the North; abounding in wealth are those of the South.
    This proverb, which in former times I have often heard is used, is peculiarly a Northern one, and requires explanation. The most esteemed goods—the real personal wealth of the ancient New Zealanders—were greenstone—unworked or worked—as axes, war-clubs, and ornaments; finely-woven flax garments; totara canoes; and feathers of the huia bird (Heteralocha gouldi). These were all obtained from the Southern parts; so were the skilled carvers in wood (males), and the best weavers of first quality flax garments (females), who were sometimes made prisoners of war.

  10. He karanga kai, tee karangatia a Paeko; he karanga taua, ka karangatia a Paeko.
    At a call to a feast, Paeko is not called;
    At a call to a fight, Paeko is called.
    Used evidently by an inferior, though a good man at fighting, etc. Note the name, which may be translated, Keep them off. “Rich man has many friends”.

  11. E hoki te patiki ki tona puehutanga.
    The flounder returns to its own thick, muddy water (to hide itself, understood).

  12. Puritia to ngarahu kauri!
    Keep (to thyself) thy kauri-resin soot! [145]
    This saying was used when a person was unwilling to give what was asked, the same being some common thing and not at all needed by the owner.
    Soot from burning kauri-resin (a genuine lamp-black!) was carefully collected in a very peculiar manner and only by much pains, and buried in the earth placed in a hollowed soft-stone, where it was kept for years, and said to improve in quality by age; it was used as a black pigment in tattooing. But there is a double meaning here, viz.: You may never require it, or live to use it!

  13. Waiho noa iho nga taonga; tena te mana o Taiwhanake.
    Leave (your) goods anywhere; here is the power and might of the Rising-tide.
    Used to strangers, to show, that the people of the place were honest, etc., and under their chief, who is figuratively called the Overwhelming Sea or Rising-tide.

  14. Te aute tee whawhea!
    The paper mulberry bark is not blown away by the winds.
    Meaning: Peaceful times; all going on well; no disturbances.
    The bark of the paper mulberry shrub, or small tree, (Broussonetia papyrifera) which was formerly cultivated by the ancient New Zealanders, and used as a kind of white cloth ornament for the hair, was, after being beaten and washed, etc., spread out to dry in small pieces, but only in fine, calm weather.

  15. Haere mai ki Haurahi, te aute tee awhea!
    Come hither (to us) to Hauraki, a district in the Thames, where the prepared paper mulberry bark is not blown away (or disturbed) by the winds while drying and bleaching.
    A proverb of similar meaning to the last one.

  16. Haere i mua, i te aroaro o Atutahi.
    Go before the presence (or rising) of (the star) Atutahi; or, Work away diligently in advance of the appearing (of the star) Atutahi.
    Formerly used (1.) concerning the proper time of annual friendly visiting,—viz., in the autumn, when food is plentiful, and before the frosts set in; (2.) also (and more commonly), for the early digging and storing securely in their neatly-built storehouses of their precious kumara crop, on which so much depended; which roots if but slightly touched by frost, rotted. The star Atutahi481 rises in April, and was to them indicative of the season of approaching frosts. [146]

  17. Rehua pona nui!
    Rehua (causing) big joints!
    Rehua is one of the larger planets (possibly Mars or Jupiter), and when seen in summer, in time of heats and droughts, this saying is used; as then men grow thin (substantial vegetable food being scarce), and their joints protrude and look large. Rehua is a famed star (planet) with the old New Zealanders,—many things are said of it; some of which, however, belong to a noted chief of that name of the olden time. (Vide proverb 161, ante).

  18. Takurua hupe nui!
    Takurua (causing) watery nose!
    This saying is in opposition to the last one, conveyed in the same semi-metrical manner, and is highly expressive of the cold raw weather in winter. Takurua being also one of their names for the winter season (indeed with the Southern Maoris the only one), at which time the old Maoris, slightly clothed, must have suffered much annoyance in the way alluded to. Takurua482 is the name of a star which rises in the winter.

  19. Ka mate he tete, ka tupu he tete.
    One duck dies, another duck is hatched. (Spatula variegata.)
    Meaning: Man dies, and another comes in his place.
    Reminding of Homer (Iliad VI.):—“As is the race of leaves, such is that of men; one springs up and the other dies.” And of our English saying:—“As good fish in the sea as ever came out of it.

  20. He huruhuru te manu ka rere: he ao te rangi ka uhia.
    When the bird has feathers it flies away; when the sky has clouds it is obscured.
    Lit. The fledged bird flies; the clouded sky (is) covered.
    Meaning: Great changes soon arise. Circumstances alter cases.




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