Volume 60 1951 > Volume 60, No. 4 > Native proverbs and figurative expressions of the Cook Islands, by Apenera Short, p 255-259
NATIVE PROVERBS AND FIGURATIVE EXPRESSIONS OF THE COOK ISLANDS
1. Karikao pao ngata.
This is a shell in the sea which is hard to crack. You are a stubborn boy. How many times must I tell you.
2. Moemoe a panako.
The small fish which never goes properly to sleep. Wary, watchful, wide awake, hard to beat.
3. Te maata i taau ka oronga ko te maata rai ia i taau ka rauka.
The more you give the more you receive. If you give a lot you will receive a lot. Do not be selfish.
4. E tau te rave angaanga i tana tutaki.
The worker is paid according to his service. If you work hard you will be rewarded.
5. Kokiri kai ate.
A small fish which eats its own liver. A person who is always angry and who does not try to get rid of it. Hot temper.
6. Kaingakai a te rori toto.
The meal of a rori (a fish in the sea). Having meals carelessly. Careless ways, person, speech.
7. Okotai rima i puta i te uti kuku i Anaupo e manotini te vaa i kai.
One hand injured in pulling kuku at Anaupo but many mouths ate them. One person suffered in getting them but many enjoyed eating them.
8. Oore a meika para ua.
Skin it like a banana. It could be done easily. Easy to defeat, to overcome.
9. Ka kite o mata, kare to vaa e kai.
Your eyes will see but your mouth will not eat. You see what you should get but somehow you will never get it.
10. Na te rima uruuru tena i rave.
It was done by hairy hands. It was done by a clever person, or by an expert, or elderly person.- 256
11. Tinana puaka kai moa, kai moa rai te punua.
Metua makokore makokore rai tana tamariki.
A sow that eats fowl, the piglets eat fowls too. Wicked parents, wicked children. Like father like son.
12. Kia pupuru o vaevae, kia mokora o kaki.
Your legs like the pupuru and your neck like the duck's. Be wise, be steady and cool. Be strong and courageous and consider things very carefully. Stand firmly and be alert.
13. Aaere marie e aku potiki kia kite i nga inapotea.
Go quietly my sons, so that you see many moonlights. Go slowly and be careful so that you live long.
14. Eiaa e akatangi vave i te pu, e kare i maoa ake te varaoa.
Don't blow the horn till the bread is baked. Don't be boastful before the thing is really done.
15. Kua oro i Punakiore.
He had run in Punakiore. He had been through the mill. He had done such things before.
16. Kia maru e vara e kai ei koe i te inuinu o Mangaia.
Be gentle my friends so that you may eat the fat of Mangaia. Be gentle and kind so that others may be friendly and helpful to you.
17. E ra ke ia na Tiaure ei.
“It's a different day,” said Tiaure. Tomorrow.
18. E mahana toou.
You have time. The time will come when you will suffer.
19. Kare e tuitui, kare e rauau, kare e moina tai.
No candle nut, no “au” leaf, no bottle of sauce. Very, very poor.
20. Auraka e oake i te piripou ki te vaine.
Do not give the pants to the wife. Do not let the wife lead the husband, let the husband be the head of the wife.
21. Ki te kopu, pakari te vavia, matutu o te kopapa e.
The belly is full, the legs are strong, the body is healthy. Plenty of food makes the body strong.
22. Kai e takatakai.
Eat and then stamp. An extra big feast. The feast is so big that the guests could not eat all the food.
23. Me e raurau tetai kapiki iatu, me kare e raurau akaoki iatu.- 257
If there is any basket call him but if there is none send him back. Welcome only the one that would bring good.
24. Kua aere a rauuru te noo nei a mata.
The warriors are gone and the drones are left back. The strong ones have gone to work, etc., and the lazy ones are left behind.
25. Tuku paka ua ki te ai.
Put the whole into the fire. Give the life for the work. Let the body die for the purpose.
26. Pakau a kikino kia kute te rave.
Poor tool but well used. A person who does not look suitable for a job but when he tackles it he does it well.
27. Kua rau kuru para a Tahiti, kua taka te maro i te toe.
Tahiti turns into an old breadfruit leaf; the loin cloth is well seen. The man is very old.
28. Mata pokia e te kai.
Eyes which were covered by food. Very greedy with food.
29. E tua Pukuruvaa-nui.
A Pukuruvaa-Nui distribution. When the food is distributed everyone gets a share.
30. E tua Titama.
A Titama distribution. In this kind of distribution the food is given to certain ones only.
31. E oki, kare e rauka a Rori, kua mou nga tamaka o Rori.
Go back, you can't beat Rori; he wears his shoes. You can't catch him.
32. Eaa, e koe atia?
What, is it a broken rod? Is he a good fisherman?
33. Mapii tua uruuru.
Mapii Hairy Back. A sticky thing.
34. Eaa, e rima ruru ia e te ika?
Why, is it a hand bound by fish? Is he a good fisherman?
35. Aere ki te tai koko.
Go to the fast flowing sea. Scrub the body to make it clean.
36. Eaa e ara ngaro? Ko te putangiu ki runga ko te vaa ki raro.- 258
Why? Is it a lost road? The nose above the mouth below. Put the food into the mouth not into the nose.
37. A te kerearako ua koe.
You are like the “kerearako.” You are a big talker. A person who makes a lot of noise.
38. Toa para vaa ua.
A hero by mouth. A boastful person who is incapable of performing what he boasts.
39. Me aere te kiore ngiao ka ta rekareka te kiore toka.
When the cat is away the rat begins to play. When the boss goes away the servant begins to play.
40. Utu pānu.
A floating berry. A stranger.
41. Me aere nga vavia ka kakina nga tanga.
If the legs go the mouth would sound. If you go and look for food you will find it.
42. Kare a mango e tuku i tana kai e mate uatu.
The shark will not give up his food. The hero goes for his enemy till he gets him.
43. E tamariki oro Piako.
A lad that used to run on Piako. This proverb originated from the story of a chief who, after his army was defeated in a battle ran back to his fort on a mountain called Piako. He was chased by two warriors of the enemy. Reaching the fort he called back to the pursuers, “Go back, you can't catch me. It's a lad who is used to running on Piako.”
44. E tumurangi matangi kare ra i ua.
A storm cloud but no rain. A person who says that he will give, but forgets about it.
45. Me kare e vaie kare te ai e ka.
If there's no wood the fire won't burn. If there's no insult there won't be any quarrel.
46. Ko tei koe te vaarua ra koia uaorai te ka topa ki roto.
He who digs a pit will fall into it. If a person finds fault for another he himself will fall into it.
47. Akara ka veu te puna vai.
Be careful or the clear pool might become dirty. Be careful that your cleverness does not turn into foolishness.- 259
48. E kai venevene te tuatua a te monomono korero.
Delicious food is the word of the teacher. Correct teaching is given by the wise men.
49. Ta te tangata e ruru ra, tana rai ia e kokoti.
What a man sows he reaps. If a person does bad things he will reap bad things.
50. Kia pukupuku, kia taratara.
To be rough, to be thorny. A work done through trouble.
51. Mou i te ko, mou i te ere.
Hold the spade, hold the rope. Hold the spade means to work the land, that is to plant crops, and to hold the rope means to feed animals for food. (Domestic animals are tethered with ropes.)
52. Kai ka pou, tangata kia ora.
Food to be all eaten, man to live. Don't be jealous about food, give it away to be eaten.
53. Te moa e kakaaoa ra, nana rai ia te ua.
The eggs belong to the hen that cackles.