Arohatia te Reo: learning 50 kupu hou (new Māori words) – Te Reo and WWI research

"HURRAH FOR THE KING: MEMBERS OF THE MAORI CONTINGENT IN THE NEW ZEALAND CAMP AT ZEITOUN BEFORE THEIR DEPARTURE TO MALTA."  Taken from the supplement to the Auckland Weekly News 27 May 1915 p 43 (Image courtesy of Auckland Libraries)

“HURRAH FOR THE KING: MEMBERS OF THE MAORI CONTINGENT IN THE NEW ZEALAND CAMP AT ZEITOUN BEFORE THEIR DEPARTURE TO MALTA.”
Taken from the supplement to the Auckland Weekly News 27 May 1915 p 43
(Image courtesy of Auckland Libraries)

In honour of Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori, here are a number of kupu Māori (Māori words) that I constantly use in my everyday mahi/work as a curator at Te Papa, and especially in my research for the First World War exhibition we are presently developing.

Many of the sources written in te reo Māori that date from 1914/1915 use transliterations, or words that translate a word in one language using the alphabet of another language. Transliterations are known as loan words and usually happened when there were no Māori words to explain European concepts, sometimes creating entirely new words that may appear almost unrecognisable. But once you say them aloud and understand them within the context of the writing in which they appear, they make beautiful sense. While transliterations aren’t the preferred translation vehicle these days, they are still interesting to read and note when researching older sources.

Here are some words that are some of my favourites.

1.    Emepaea – Empire

2.    Tiamani / Rūhia / Īhipa – Germany / Russia / Egypt

3.    Rewhetenana / rewheteneti / rūtene  – Lieutenant

4.    Tianara – General

5.    Karepori / Karipori – Gallipoli

6.    Ngā Hōia – The Soldiers

7.    Niu Tīrani – New Zealand

8.    Te Rōru Hōnore – The Roll of Honour

Other words that aren’t transliterations but are important to remember when researching Māori participation during World War One:

9.    Te Hokowhitu a Tū – the seventy twice-told warriors of the God, Tūmatauenga (name given to the Māori contingent in WWI and subsequently to the 28th Māori Battalion in WWII.

10.  Pakanga Tuatahi o te Ao / Pakanga Nui o te Ao Tuatahi – The First World War

11.  Te Taua Māori – The Māori Contingent

If you would like to read Te Reo Māori reflections on World War One from the period, here’s a link to the Māori newspaper, Te Kōpara. Te Kōpara was an Anglican newspaper published in te reo for an East Coast readership. It published letters in te reo that were sent home by some of the Māori soldiers, and can be incredibly moving reading. The link to the newspaper here begins from August 1915, when the Native Contingent were at Gallipoli: http://tinyurl.com/nq7x666  

Here are some more resources if you would like to learn more kupu Māori for Māori Language Week: http://www.korero.maori.nz/news/mlw

And for fun, try learning the famous song, Te Ope Tuatahi, composed by Paraire Tomoana and Apirana Ngata for the recruitment effort during WWI. You’ll see a lot of the kupu referred to here as well as learn a rousing waiata!

Here are the words to the song:

Te ope tuatahi – The first contingent was
No Aotearoa – from throughout New Zealand,
No Te Wai-pounamu; – including the South Island;
No nga tai e wha – they were from the four tides.

Ko koutou ena – You there
E nga rau e rima,- the five hundred
Te Hokowhitu toa – the brave Battalion
A Tu-matau-enga: – of angry-eyed Tu.

I hinga ka Ihipa, – Some of you have fallen in Egypt,
Ki Karipori ra ia – some in Gallipoli.
E ngau nei te aroha, – Love gnaws within us
Me te mamae – and pain also. 

Te ope tuarua, – The second echelon was
No Mahaki rawa, – from around Gisborne
Na Hauiti koe, – from Tolaga Bay,
Na Porourangi: – from the East Coast.

I haere ai Hënare – Farewell, O Henare
Me tö wiwi, – and your ‘clump of rushes
I patu ki te pakanga, – who fell while fighting
Ki Para-nihi ra ia.- in France

Ko wai he morehu – Who will survive there
Hei kawe korero – to bring the story back
Ki te iwi nui e, – to all the people
E taukuri nei? – in sorrow bowed?

Te ope tua-iwa – The ninth contingent
No Te Arawa, – is from near Rotorua,
No Te Tai-rawhiti, – from near Gisborne,
No Kahungunu. – and from Hawkes Bay.

E haere ana au – And now I am going
Ki runga o Wiwi – to the conflict of the Frenchmen
Ki reira au nei, – and there will I
E tangi ai. – weep

Me mihi kau atu – I salute you as I disappear
I te nuku o te whenua, – out of sight of the land
He konei ra e, – Goodbye
E te tau pumau. – my own true love

 

Kia ora koutou,

Puawai

Soldiers of the Pioneer Battalion awaiting departure during World War I, probably in Wellington. Ref: 1/2-011079-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22780307

Soldiers of the Pioneer Battalion awaiting departure during World War I, probably in Wellington. Ref: 1/2-011079-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22780307

3 Responses

  1. B Keane

    Kia ora Puawai.

    “Transliterations … make beautiful sense.”
    I mua i te whakatikanga o ngā tauā ka whaikupu tōna tāngata arā te Tianara whakahaere, e, kaua rawa hei pakū tētahi pū kotahi, engari ko te whawhai me pēneti.
    “Before the forces went forward the General in charge gave instructions, ‘So, under no circumstances should a single gun be fired, the fight will be bayonets.'”
    The thing is that despite the use of transliterations (pū, Tianara, pēneti), the structure is distinctively Māori. Contrast this with some of the Māori you read today which is like reading English in Māori fancy dress.

    Reply
    • B Keane

      “with bayonets”

    • Puawai Cairns

      Thanks for the comment, Basil! I love the last two sentences and your observation that transliterations maintain a distinctive Maori structure :)

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