You are not a gumboot

My course co-ordinator seems to be a bottomless well of cute and funny expressions (admittedly they’re mostly insults) but this one tops them all.

She was telling us about attending her first wānanga years ago and not really contributing to the discussions about tikanga on marae. Although she was well versed on tikanga and kawa at home, it was markedly different to what the other students had seen and experienced; she didn’t want to highlight her ignorance so kept her mouth shut.

On her way home she called into her brother’s place and told him all about it. His response was quick and to the point.

Ehara koe i te kamuputu!
You are not a gumboot!

Gumboots – unlike shoes – have no tongues. What he meant was, ‘You have a tongue. Use it’.

How cute is that?! So whenever you’re feeling shy or think that your own opinions and experiences are somehow less valid than another’s, just remember that you are not a gumboot!


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