Newha say newha

I recently discovered the word newha or neha and immediately thought of my granddad on Christmas afternoons.

Kei te moe koe Karani Pā? Kāo, kei te newha noa.
Are you asleep Granddad? No, merely resting my eyes.

Kei te neha ōna mata.
His eyelids are drooping. (He’s nodding off)

Ah-ha! I knew that there had to be a word for it. I don’t know why but I’ve always been very uncomfortable with the phrase ‘close your eyes’ in te reo.

Katia ō karu
Close your eyes

Kati means to close things like doors or passages, or in other words to block up / obstruct. It’s still seems a good word for closing your gob or blocking your ears which, after all, are holes but newha is specifically for drooping eyelids and therefore sleeping.

Kia neha ō mata
Close your eyes

Kia newha koe i te pīoioi o te moana
Let yourself be lulled to sleep by the motion of the sea

Anā, māu te pēpi e whakanewha
Fine, you try get the baby to go to sleep

Newha can also be used more picturesquely.

Ka newha te rā
The sun’s setting

Kua whakanewhanewha i aku mata!
I’ve been hoodwinked!
I’ve had the wool pulled over my eyes!

Since we’re on the subject of eyes, opening them is often whakapuare(tia) from the word pūare meaning open, exposed, hole or aperture. I’ve also heard huaki(na), meaning to open, part, uncover. Personally I really like ara which means to have the eyes open, be awake; it sounds like they’re alert and aware rather than exposed.

Whakapuaretia ō whatu
Open your eyes

Huakina ō whatu
Open your eyes

Kia ara ō whatu
Open your eyes


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