Whakataukī , Māori proverbs

Ka whakamahia ngā whakataukī i ngā whaikōrero ōkawa me ngā whakawhitinga kōrero o ia rā. Tirohia ngā whakataukī e hānagai ana ki te aroha me te whakahuatanga o ētahi o ngā whakataukī rongonui.

Whakataukī (Māori proverbs) are often used in both formal speeches and everyday conversation. These whakataukī are about aroha (love).

Close-up of traditional Māori weaving

Whakataukī aroha

Whakataukī aroha
Whakataukī in te reo Whakataukī in english
E iti noa ana nā te aroha A small thing given with love
Aroha mai, aroha atu Love received demands love returned
Ko Hinemoa, ko ahau I am just like Hinemoa, I’d risk all for love
Te kuku o te manawa The pincers of the heart (the object of affection)
Me te mea ko Kōpū ka rere i te pae (The beauty of a women is) like Kōpū (Venus) rising above the horizon
Ahakoa he iti he pounamu Although it is small it is a treasure
He hono tangata e kore e motu; ka pa he taura waka e motu Unlike a canoe rope, a human bond cannot be severed.
Ahakoa he iti kete, he iti nā te aroha It is the thought that counts
He taonga rongonui te aroha ki te tangata Goodwill towards others is a precious treasure
Taku toi kahurangi My precious jewel
Me te wai korari Like the honey of the flax flower (as sweet as honey)
Ko Hine-tītama koe matawai ana te whatu i te tirohanga You are like Hine-tītama, a vision at which the eyes glisten
He iti kahurangi A little treasure
Waiho i te toipoto, kaua i te toiroa Let us keep close together, not far apart
E kore e mimiti te aroha mōu My love for you will never wane
E kore e ea i te kupu taku aroha mōu Words can't express how much I love you
Ka nui taku aroha ki a koe My love for you knows no bounds

Māori Language Week whakataukī

For Māori Language Week in 2012, we put 25 whakataukī into fortune cookies and distributed them to coffee shops on our Manawatū (Palmerston North) campus. Here’s a list of the whakataukī we used, along with the translations given.

Te reo Māori English Pronunciation
He maonga āwhā Calm after the storm
Haere taka mua, taka muri; kaua e whai Be a leader not a follower
E tupu atu kūmara, e ohu e te anuhe As a person’s importance increases so do those who seek his or her favour
E noho e, kia raungāwari Sit down and bide your time
E kore a muri e hokia What is done is done
He rā ki tua Better times are coming
He rau ringa e oti ai Many hands make light work
He taonga tonu te wareware Forgetfulness is an enduring possession
He taonga nui te tūpato Caution is highly prized
Mauri tū mauri ora An active soul is a healthy soul
Kua hua te marama Something has completed a full cycle
I timu noa te tai Certain conditions are best left to work themselves out
I orea te tuatara ka puta ki waho A problem is solved by continuing to find solutions
He maurea kai whiria! Ignore small matters and direct effort toward important projects
He manawa tītī A person with great endurance
He pai ake te iti i te kore A little is better than none.
He iti kahurangi Small in size is contrasted with great in value or beauty
He iti kai mā te kotahi e kai, kia rangona ai te reka If something is too small for division, do not try to divide it
Whaowhia te kete mātauranga Fill the basket of knowledge
E iti noa ana, nā te aroha Although it is small, it is given with love
Ko ia kāhore nei i rapu, tē kitea He who does not seek will not find
Tē tōia, tē haumatia Nothing can be achieved without a plan, workforce and way of doing things
Tino kai, tino ora te kōpū He who has the produce of his labour stored up will never want
Whāia te mātauranga hei oranga mō koutou Seek after learning for the sake of your wellbeing
He rā whatiwhati kō A day of hard work

More whakataukī

Tini whetū ki te rangi ko Rangitāne nui ki te whenua – As there area myriad of stars in the heavens, the Rangitāne people are numerous on the land

He pepeha rongonui i kōrerotia ai i te wā he tinimano tāngata o Rangitāne e tūkaha ana i ngā papa kāinga huri noa i ngā rohe o Heretaunga, o Manawatū nei Te Wairarapa me Te Upoko o te Ika tae atu ki Wairau.

This is well known proverb pepeha reflecting a time when the Rangitāne people were numerous and powerful and had many settlements throughout Hawke’s Bay, Manawatū, Wairarapa, Wellington and in the Wairau district.

Itiiti rearea, teitei kahikatea ka taea – Although the rearea is small it can ascend the lofty heights of the Kahikatea tree

He manu iti te rearea i mātakitaki ai ngā tūpuna i te manu nei e kimi kai ana i te ngahere ka kitea pea tana rere. Pēnei ana tana rere, ka topa whakarunga, ā, ka paku heke iho ka topaki, ka tiu whakarunga anō ka paku heke iho anō kātahi ka topaki anō. I te wā i a rātou mā i kite rātou i tēnei manu e whakapau kaha ana kia tau ia ki te kōmata o te rākau, arā, ki te tāpuhipuhi, ki te tāuru o ngā kahikatea. Nā konā i whakaritea tēnei whakataukī hei akiaki i te tangata i runga anō i te huatau “ka taea e te rearea tōna matanā te tutuki, ka taea hoki e te tangata”.

The rearea is a small bird who’s actions of seeking food was observed by the ancestors. The rearea would fly upwards hover for a moment sometimes floating down a bit then fly upwards again continuing this process until it reached the top of the kahikatea tree (white Pine - Podocarpus dacrydioides) which were in early times 50 metres or more in height. Once the rearea reached the canopy it fed off the fruit. This whakataukī is used to encourage each other with the thought, that if a small bird can expend its energy to obtain food and achieve its goal then surely we can also with a lot of effort achieve our goals.

E koekoe te kōkō, e ketekete te kākā, e kūkū te kererū – The parson bird chatters, the parrot gabbles, the wood pigeon coos

Kei tēnā manu, kei tēnā manu tōna tangi ake. I tino mōhio ngā tūpuna Māori ki tēnei tūāhuatanga. I whakaritea e rātou tēnei tūāhuatanga o ngā manu ki te tangata e whakaaraara ai i a rātou anō ki te motuhaketanga o tēnā tangata, o tēnā tangata kia whakatairanga ake i ia pūmanawa o ia tangata. I mōhio hoki rātou mā te kāinga katoa te tamaiti e whakatipu. Hei tā rātou anō ahakoa te momo tangata; tangata wairangi, tangata pōrangi, tangata hārangi, tangata kaha, tangata koi, tangata aha, tangata aha he taonga tonu ia.

The early ancestors recognised that, like humans, every bird has its own unique characteristics, like the individual cry they make. The native birds of Aotearoa have distinct calls and in some cases are named after those calls. This whakataukī alludes to the idea that like the native bird species we as humans also have individualistic traits. The literal lesson given by this proverb is two-fold:

a) it takes all sorts to make a world

b) variety is the spice of life.

He tohe puruhi – A persistent flea

He huahuatau tēnei tū kupu e whakataurite ana ki tētahi momo tangata e aronui ana ki tētahi kaupapa hei whakatutuki, ki tētahi momo tangata rānei e noho hongehongeā ana, e whakatoi ana, ka mutu ka kaha te pōrahu. Māhau tonu te whakaaro mō āhea mahia ai me te mōhio hoki ki tētahi tangata pēnei.

This is a metaphoric saying alluding to either someone who continues to focus on a particular issue to get it resolved or to someone who persists in adopting an annoying stance and keeps coming at you. You decide how to use this and may already know someone who fits this description perfectly.

Hei te tau tītoki – The year the tītoki tree blooms

Ka kitea i tēnei whakataukī te mātauranga nui o ngā tūpuna ki te taiao, ināhoki ki te rākau tītoki, tēnā ka puāwai anake i te wā ka pai katoa te āhuarangi. He mea mātakitaki nā ngā tūpuna me te aha ka meatia te kupu nei hei poroaki tangata.

This proverb illustrates the ancestors intimate knowledge of the environment, specifically in this instance the Tītoki tree (Alectryon excelsus) which only bloomed when the climate was right. The ancestors observed this phenonium and thus used the phrase as a farewell (poroaki) to mean, “I’ll see you again when the time is right!”, “Hei te tau tītoki!”

Pronunciation

If you'd like some help with te reo Māori pronunciation, check out our pronunciation guide.