Here’s a wee phrase for your leftovers – ngā toenga kai.
He koha mā Maru
A gift for Maru
Or if you want to tell someone they can leave the rest of their meal on the plate
Kāti waiho tēnā mā Maru
Leave it for Maru
These kīwaha are just polite expressions to cover the social faux-pas of wasting food by jokingly pretending it’s for Maru. Right now you may be asking, who’s Maru?
Maru who cries for food
Maru is an atua associated with war prominent in Te Tai Hauāuru, who apparently is always hungry. Just as coastal iwi return the first fish to Tangaroa, the first bird was given back to Maru. You can never forget to give him what he considers his due, otherwise he might eat you!
E Maru, ina tāu
Here, Maru, this is yours.
Maru’s association with kai is also found in this whakataukī.
Maru kai atu, Maru kai mai, ka ngohengohe
When one gives as well as takes, all are agreeable
Most of the time you can trot out this whakataukī to refer to generosity, reciprocity and manaakitanga, whether you’re talking about kai or anything else. But don’t forget that Maru’s main thing is war – another interpretation of this whakataukī goes.
Maru kai atu, Maru kai mai
If Maru strikes out, Maru shall be struck back
i.e. If you come at us, you’re gonna get it!