Haumi e, Hui e, Taiki e

One thing about learning a language like Māori is that you will also encounter various elements of Māori culture besides the language. In fact, even if you aren’t learning Māori, if you live in New Zealand, you will likely (hopefully) encounter these things anyway. This doesn’t happen so much if you’re learning French in New Zealand, for instance. You can get away with just learning the French language and book-learning the cultural elements as you likely won’t encounter them in your everyday life here.

This post is about the words that you might hear at the end of a karakia (prayer, blessing, chant, or similar). This might be at a marae or in a Māori class, but also might be said at the end of a speech opening a conference or at an end-of-year work dinner.

Even if you have no idea what the rest of the korero (speech) was about, after hearing a few you might start to recognise a common refrain at the end of the karakia that goes “haumi e, hui e, TAIKI E.” The parts in capital letters are said by everyone, whereas the lower caps section is said by the speaker. So it goes thus:

  1. Speaker: (some words in Māori…) haumi e, hui e
  2. Everyone: TAIKI E

This is basically a ritual ending which is pretty impossible to translate meaningfully, but is a bit like everyone saying “Amen” together at the end of a prayer, but means something along the lines of “join, gather, unite”. Its just something you say.

The pronunciation of “taiki e” is like “tie key e” with the “e” being said like the first “e” in “everyone”.  Say it with feeling, and fairly slowly.

There are a few options for the line immediately preceeding “haumi e, hui e, taiki e” but one is “kia tina, TINA” which provides another opportunity to join in and goes like this:

  1. Speaker: (some words in Māori…) kia tina
  2. Everyone: TINA
  3. Speaker: haumi e, hui e
  4. Everyone: TAIKI E

The word “tina” is also relatively untranslateable here, but means something like “fix it” or “make it firm”. The pronounciation of “tina” is like the name “Tina” but make sure you pronounce both syllables strongly and clearly, a bit like you were angry at Tina – Tina!

If you want to hear what these sound like, this short video on YouTube provides two examples of karakia said by a group of people, finishing with these words. The second example in the video as a fantastic, emotive example of a guy calling out the words for everyone to respond to.



All about Ngāti and Ngāi – Part 4

Creating new group names with Ngāti

In the previous posts about Ngāti and Ngāi, we have seen that most iwi and hapū will use one or the other of these words – usually Ngāti – in their iwi name to indicate that they are the descendents of the same eponymous ancestor. Identifying yourself as a member of a particular iwi establishes that you are part of a particular group, and this is another way in which Ngāti is now being used.

Wikipedia says “Ngāti has become a productive morpheme in New Zealand English to refer to groups of people” – i.e. Ngāti has become part of our language and is now used to create new words. The examples provided on Wikipedia include Ngāti Pākehā – referring to Pākehā as a group; Ngāti Rānana – Māori living in London; and Ngāti Tūmataunga – the Māori language name for the NZ army.

As we saw when talking about Ngāti vs. Ngāi, Ngāti is the correct word to use to create these new group names as Ngāi is only used in certain cases – useful to know as otherwise its easy for beginners, particularly non-Māori beginners, to forget which to use when identifiying as part of a non-Māori group, e.g. Ngāti Pākehā, Ngāti Kōtimana (Scottish), Ngāti Tiamana (German), etc.


Other posts in this series:

All about Ngāti and Ngāi – Part 3

When neither Ngāti or Ngāi are used

In the list of iwi I used in my previous two posts, you might have noticed I was quite particular about which examples I used and how I wrote them. What if my list had been like this:

  • Kāi Tahu
  • Kāti Mamoe
  • Tūhoe
  • Te Arawa

Where’s all our Ngāi and Ngāti now, eh?!

So, first up are Kāi Tahu and Kāti Mamoe. These are two South Island iwi, Kāti Mamoe being an historic iwi present before Kāi Tahu, and many Kāi Tahu Māori whakapapa (link genealogically) back to Kāti Mamoe. Kāi Tahu uses a different dialect of te reo Māori, one of the most noticable differences being the lack of the “ng” sound, and the usage instead of “k”. This transforms Ngāi Tahu and Ngāti Mamoe into Kāi Tahu and Kāti Mamoe.

Next is Tūhoe. I’m not sure why, but some iwi are commonly known by their name without the Ngāi/Ngāti signifier on the front. However for these iwi, like with Tūhoe, you can still use their “full name”, e.g. Ngāi Tūhoe.

Lastly, we have Te Arawa. Although generally used in the same way as an iwi name, Wikipedia informs me that Te Arawa is actually a “confederation of iwi and hapu” who trace their ancestry back to the Arawa waka. Thus it would not make sense to use Ngāti or Ngāi in the name as Te Arawa is a waka and not the eponymous ancester from which they are descended. Similarly, the Waikato-Tainui iwi, a.k.a. Waikato, take their name from the Waikato river, and the Tainui waka.

So as you can see, although using Ngāti/Ngāi is the most common way to identify an iwi or hapū, it is not the only way.


Other posts in this series:

All about Ngāti and Ngāi – Part 2

Ngāti vs. Ngāi –  What’s the difference

In the last post, I mentioned that Ngāi and Ngāti indicate that the iwi are “descendents of” whomever their iwi is named after.

For example, this list of selected iwi:

  • Ngāti Porou
  • Ngāti Kahungunu
  • Ngāti Tūwharetoa
  • Ngāi Tahu
  • Ngāi Tūhoe

But why do we have two words – Ngāti and Ngāi – which are very similar sounding and used for the same purpose? Why isn’t there just one word? And why is one used sometimes and the other used at other times?

Firstly, Ngāti is the most common word of the two, essentially the default. So if you can’t remember which word goes with a particular iwi, guess “Ngāti” and you will usually be correct.

You’ll notice in the list above that the two iwi with Ngāi in their name both begin with “T”. This is not a coincidence. Ngāi is only used before iwi names that begin with “T”, such as Ngāi Tūhoe and Ngāi Tahu. Not all iwi beginning with “T” use Ngāi – for example Ngāti Tūwharetoa doesn’t.

  • If it begins with “T” it might use Ngāi
  • If it doesn’t begin with “T” it will always use Ngāti

It seems likely to me that Ngāi is a shortened version of Ngāti, which makes certain iwi names easier, or perhaps nicer, to say without a double t-sound – similar to how we use a/an depending on the initial sound of the following word.


Other posts in this series:

All about Ngāti and Ngāi – Part 1

What Ngāti and Ngāi mean

If you have ever encountered anything or anyone even remotely Māori, you will have encountered the words Ngāi and Ngāti which precede the names of various iwi (tribes) and hapū (sub-tribes) – I’ll just write iwi from now on rather than refer to both iwi and hapū every time.

For example, this list of selected iwi:

  • Ngāti Porou
  • Ngāti Kahungunu
  • Ngāti Tūwharetoa
  • Ngāi Tahu
  • Ngāi Tūhoe

So what do these two words mean? Or do they mean anything at all?

Well, the general meaning of these words is “the descendents of”, meaning that the members of the iwi are descendents of the named ancester who founded that iwi. So, Ngāti Kahungunu are the descendents of a common ancestor named Kahungunu. Ngāti Porou are descended from Porourangi a.k.a. Porou Ariki. Ngāi Tahu‘s eponymous ancestor is Tahupōtiki, Ngāi Tūhoe descend from Tūhoe-pōtiki, and so on.

Now that you know this, some of the Māori stories and histories that you hear may have more meaning as you recognise some famous names and associate them with their iwi. You will also understand why those names and people are so important to those iwi.


Other posts in this series:

Long vs. Short Vowels – It’s Important!

One really important thing to get the hang of early on in learning te reo Māori is the use of LONG vs SHORT vowels.

The vowels in Māori are written as follows, with a macron or tohutō over the top to indicate the long vowels:

  • a, ā
  • e, ē
  • i, ī
  • o, ō
  • u, ū

The long vowels should be pronounced twice as long as the short vowels. This is why you will also see the long vowels written as aa, ee, ii, oo, uu – especially in older writing, and in situations where it’s difficult to type the tohutō. The double letter is a nice way of indicating long vowels because it is very clearly two in a row! But I find that having a line over the top also creates the feeling of “length” in my mind.

When you’re just starting off, the difference in the vowels might not seem important – but the vowel length changes the meaning of the words, as well as affecting the rhythm of the language.

Here’s some examples of change in meaning:

  • keke (cake) vs. kekē (creak) vs. kēkē (armpit)
  • pahi (bus) vs. pāhi (purse)
  • tata (close) vs. tatā (to bail out water) vs. tātā (to strike repeatedly)
  • kaka (clothing) vs. kakā (hot) vs. kākā (parrot)

As you can see, there’s  a lot of difference! To save yourself trouble later on, practice writing and saying words correctly when you learn them. Unlike English, Māori words are said like they’re written, and written like they’re said. So once you learn how to pronounce a word correctly, you can automatically spell it too!

For this Māori Language Week 2017, news site Stuff announced that they would now be using macrons, recognising their importance, which is a great move.



Kia Ora!

In my post The Most Basic of Basics I briefly talked about using kia ora to say hello to someone.

However, kia ora is a very useful word, beyond saying hello. It kind of also functions as a general word for politeness and acknowledgement.

You may find that these uses fill a gap that you weren’t sure how to express in te reo Māori, as these types of colloquial uses aren’t usually covered in textbooks or classes.

Hello – to start with, we can frame hello as part of the acknowledgement theme as saying kia ora to someone as a greeting is in effect an acknowledgement.

Thank you/thanks – you can say kia ora to thank someone and to acknowledge their action. For example, if someone hands you something, or does something for you. Similarly, if someone has just given an answer or volunteered in class, it might be acknowledged with kia ora.

Good work/I respect or admire that – if someone has done something worthy, you can say kia ora to acknowledge that. For example, someone says they’ve started studying, or they’re volunteering at a charity, or done something you think is impressive or cool, you can interject with kia ora in a tone of admiration.

Good point/I agree – similar to the above, but in this case used when you are listening to someone speaking or actually giving a speech and feel they made a good point, or you support or agree with what they are saying.

Bye/see ya – if someone is leaving and you have to throw out a quick good-bye-nice-to-see-you-I’m-not-ignoring-you, you can use kia ora. You can also just use kia ora as a general good-bye.

Thanks for reading and see you later – Kia ora!