‘Ko te tumanako me haere tahi tatou’
Let us do this together
'He taonga rongonui, Te aroha ki te tangata'
Kindness towards people is a great treasure
Whakataukī give an insight into Māori thought. The word whakataukī can be split into whaka (to cause), tau (to be settled) and kī (a saying), therefore a whakataukī is a saying that has become settled over time, through constant repetition from the time it was first exclaimed right up to the present day.
Whakatauki are commonly known as proverbs and have become an important part of our contemporary culture as New Zealanders. Whakatauki are used to ceremonially open or close events as special as awards evenings, important work gatherings and cultural events through to moments as small as a gathering of friends around a table for lunch. They bring a sense of tradition, ceremony and honor into an occasion. They also ground the people involved into the world of Maori through the recognition of the Maori language and continuation of its customs.
Whakatauki represent the wisdom guiding the Maori culture. They are commonly used as inspirations in speeches and also as gentle reminders spoken to each other in everyday life. They are poetic expressions of wise sayings which allude to symbols native to Aotearoa.
Whakataukī are metaphors that support critical thinking by allowing the receiver of the whakataukī to consider another way of thinking from a worldview other than their own. To affirm whakataukī is to accept the indigeneity of a Māori/iwi lens and invites the receiver to align their thought processes to this.
The idea that whakataukī is a saying that has become settled over time, through constant repetition from the time it was first exclaimed right up to the present day is in itself a metaphor for the continuing life force of te reo Maori, the Maori language. If we take hold of Maori words and insert them into our every day lives, if we make efforts to utter Maori words with respect to their correct pronunciation, if we greet our friends and whanau with words of aroha on a whim, if we close our gatherings with a whakatauki of special meaning to us. If we do all or any of these things just once a day we keep te reo Maori alive, evolving and a part of our collective identity as people of Aotearoa.
You can find whakatauki and more resources here:
Whakataukī (University of Victoria Electronic Text)
Whakataukī (Royal Society of New Zealand Journal 1879, curated by the National Library)