Let’s talk about sex

Usually I get my students to make up their own stories using new sentence structures – if the contexts are funny or relevant to their regular lives, they’re more likely to remember the lessons. So the other day one of my students was describing guy-meet-girl pub senario which ended with:

Ka mahi ai a Piripi i a Mereana

Ohmygod, I thought, I hope not.

While mahi ai can mean to copulate, to have sex, it wasn’t until I heard it that I realised how bad it sounded. You see, ai and ati also mean progeny and procreate; it sounded as if Piripi and Mereana ‘made babies‘, which I’m pretty sure is the last thing a one-night stand wants to have. By the way, this is where we get the words Ngāi, Ngāti, Te Ati and Aitanga.

Ngāi Tahu = Ngā ai a Tahu
The descendants of Tahu

Ngāti Tūwharetoa = Ngā ati a Tūwharetoa
The progeny of Tūwharetoa

Te Ati Haunui-ā-Pāpārangi
The descendants of Haunui-ā-Pāpārangi

Te Aitanga a Mahaki
The progeny of Mahaki

Even though ai can be translated as to have sex with, there is an implied meaning that it resulted in pregnancy as in narratives where we already know the outcome.

I aitia te wahine a Whakaue ko Rangiuru e Tūwharetoa.
Tūwharetoa had sex with Whakaue’s wife Rangiuru
(and she became pregnant with Tutanekai).

In modern contexts it can be used for either sex or to impregnate; just be careful, that’s how rumours start.

I aitia a Mereana e Piripi
Piripi had sex with Mereana
OR
Piripi got Mereana pregnant

A more discrete way to describe a hook-up is using the word piri, which means to cling, stick, attach. It doesn’t mean that they had sex, just that they are (or were) together in some way.

I rangona kua piri a Mereana rāua ko Piripi inapō?
Did you hear that Mereana and Piripi got together last night?

If you wanted to emphasise that it’s serious between them you could use pūmau, meaning fixed, constant or permanent. It’s also used to describe loyalty and faithfulness in relationships.

Kua pūmau a Piripi rāua ko Mereana.
Piripi and Mereana have gotten serious.

He tau pūmau rāua.
They’re soul mates.

Another word used for sex is ekeeke. Eke means to mount (e.g. eke pahikara bike riding, or whakaeke marae go onto the marae). It’s used for mating animals not generally for people; if you do it will sound crass and explicit.

Ka arahia mai tana pūru kia ekeekea ngā kau.
His bull was brought over to mate with the cows.

I ekeeke rāua.
They fucked.

The most common word for sex is moe(a) which means to sleep with someone or to bed someone; however it also means to marry. You need to be very careful with this word!

I moe te tama ki te taha o tōna whaea.
The boy slept with (next to) his mother.

I moe te tama i tōna whaea.
The boy slept with (married) his mother.

A student once got cross with me because she wanted to differentiate between how long her and her partner had been together (in a de-facto relationship with kids) and how long they had been legally married. She wouldn’t accept that they’re the same thing in te reo.

From a Māori perspective, if you slept together, lived together and had children together, you were married – with or without a ceremony. It doesn’t mean that you couldn’t split up but sharing a bed with someone was a serious commitment. If you want to specify an introduced tradition use an introduced word, mārena.

In a modern context you can use moe in a more casual way.

I moe a Piripi i a Mereana.
Piripi slept with Mereana.

Or use it to describe committed, living-together relationships (de-facto, civil union, marriage).

Kua moe a Piripi rāua ko Mereana.
Piripi and Mereana are ‘married’.

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5 thoughts on “Let’s talk about sex

  1. A few more gems contributed by Koro Wheke on tangatawhenua.com, brilliant!

    Personally I prefer the more poetic forms

    kua whawha te ringa a Piripi i a Mereana
    kua awhi-a-kiri a Mereana raua ko Piripi (*Mihi to Rihi Puhiwahine)
    kua muramura ke nga papa a Mereana i te hika ahi a Piripi

    or the more direct

    Kua onioni a Piripi raua ko Mereana
    Kua tongia te ure a Piripi ki a Mereana

  2. Ka mau te wehi! I have just stumbled upon your blog today and can I just say that it has to be one of the best blogs I have had the pleasure of reading! Keep the posts coming e hoa! Thoroughly educational, enjoyable and humourous – kaua e wareware, ehara koe i te kamuputu, nō reira, kōrero mai anō!

  3. Tena ra koutou kua pae nei i tenei kaupapa korero, ka mutu pea koe e Te Upoko Pakaru e taki whakatakoto nei i o whakaaro ki tenei pae tukutuku! He tauira hoki tenei.

    Kua rongo au i te kupu tuupootahi, na Pou Temara pea te korero. E mea ana tenei i (cough cough) tuu te ure mo te poo kotahi noa iho. Koira te kupu e mohiotia ana e au mo tenei ahuatanga a te whaiwhai tane, whaiwhai wahine wa poto nei hehe.

    Mauri ora ki a tatou!

      • Ki tā Pou i mea mai ai, kāhore. Engari, ki te rerekē taku titiro ki te kupu nei kua kīia he kupu mō te wahine – he piringa i tū mō te pō kotahi noa iho.

        Ki te raru ia tāua i tēnei whakaaro ōku, kua raru hoki tāua i tā te wahine whaiwhai wahine wā poto nei ne hā? Kua kore e hāngai ki tērā āhuatanga.

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