Getting carried away

There are lots of different words in te reo that seem to be interchangeable but if you take the time to really look at them you’ll soon realise that not all synonyms are created equal. Each word has a particular slant or nuance that makes it more appropriate for particular situations.

This was an exercise I was given. As a group we looked at the words meaning to bring/to take away/to carry, but I’ve since done the same thing with other common words. If you’re trying to expand your vocabulary, I fully recommend using this type of exercise otherwise you’ve got no incentive to use the new words.

Mau(ria) implies something carried or grasped with the hand (mamau means grasp or wrestle, mau also means to be fixed or caught). Mauria is best used to describe carrying smallish objects that you need to grip, like keys, cups and phones.

Ka mauria ngā punua ngeru mā ngā porokakī.
The kittens were carried by the scruff of their necks.

Kumu(tia) can mean to carry something in the closed hand. Kumu can mean to clench or close (hence the relationship to that other meaning of kumu) and is a synonym of kamu which is where the word kamunga – handful – comes from. Although it’s similar to mau(ria), it’s more likely for little things that will escape if you don’t keep your hand closed, like seeds, butterflies or fairy dust.

Kumutia mai he pōkarakara heihei.
Bring me some / a handful of chook pellets.

Hari(a) and tari(a) are both fairly generic words for carry and are used for most objects carried by hand or in your arms, e.g. blankets, wood, dishes, etc. I was told that haria is used with mai, taria with atu… or maybe the other way around. I forget.

Taria atu ēnei rīhi. Haria mai he pūrini mā tāua.
Take away these dishes. Bring us some pudding.

Kawe(a) is also quite generic but as kawe also means handle (of a kete) or strap (of a bag), kawe is more likely used when carrying things in a bag or container of some sort, e.g. groceries, laundry.

Kawea ō mahi kāinga.
Take your homework (in your schoolbag).

Hiki(tia) means to carry in the arms or nurse and is most often heard in the expression hikihiki tamariki – dandle children; it implies carrying something using both arms. It also means lift up or raise up off the ground.

Hikitia tō tueke.
Lift your luggage up off the ground and carry it.

Hāpai(ngia) – like hikitia – can mean both to carry or to lift up/raise up but it is often used poetically to decribe the rising of the dawn or heavenly bodies, or upholding values; when used for carry, it implies lifting or carrying things up high.

Hāpaingia ake ngā kete, kei mākū
Carry the bags above your head so they don’t get wet.

Amo(hia) means to carry on the shoulder, or to bear a litter. I suppose it can be used to describe a shoulder-ride or fireman’s hold, but more often describes carrying something between two people – such as lengths of timber, furniture, stretchers or coffins – even if not at shoulder height.

Amohia atu ia ki te hohipera.
Carry him to the hospital.

Waha(a/ina), pīkau(tia) and tihei(tia) all mean to carry on the back, whether that’s a large load – like a backpack – or another person.

E waha. Māku koe e pīkau.
Hop on my back. I’ll piggy-back you.


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