About face

Continuing on with our list of kīwaha and kīanga to do with the tinana, these ones all mention parts of your face, i.e. cheeks, forehead and eyebrows. All the other bits (mouth, eyes, ears, etc) have enough kīwaha to fill their own page so keep checking back for more updates.

Aroaro rua means vacillating between two choices or positions. Your aroaro is your face, front or countenance but that doesn’t mean aroaro rua is the always the same as ‘two-faced’, maybe it’s just that the person keeps changing they way that they face (think Daffy Duck watching high-speed tennis).

Kaua e aroaro rua, whakatau i te whakaaro.
Stop sitting on the fence/changing your mind, make a decision

I te aroaro o is a phrase that means in the presence of.

Me whakaiti tātou i te aroaro o te Arikinui
We should be humble in the presence of the King

By the way (off on a tangent here), another meaning of aroaro is as a euphemism for genitals or groin, e.g. Te Aroaro o Kupe. I remember being bemused and confused when I heard a mum tell her knickerless, roly-polying daughter…

Kaua e whakaatu tō aroaro ki te ao
Don’t show your ‘face’ to the world

Menemene ngā pāpāringa simply means to smile. Mene, memene, and menemene all mean wrinkle; in English we associate smiling with the mouth but in Māori it’s associated with the cheeks, more specifically the wrinkling of laugh lines and crows feet.

E kore ōna pāpāringa e menemene ki te kāmera.
He never smiles at the camera.

Mimingo ngā pāpāringa is similar to above (mimingo meaning wrinkled, shriveled) but it refers to a great beaming smile.

Mimingo mai ō pāpāringa.
Give me a great big grin.

Tū ngā pewa means to be furious. Pewa is one name (of many) for eyebrow.

Kaua e tū ō pewa ki ahau.
Don’t get pissed off at me.

Hī ngā pewa means to raise the eyebrows, which like in English is an expression meaning to be surprised, astonished or shocked.

I hī aku pewa ki te rongo kōrero.
I was so surprised when I heard about it.

Manana ngā kape is a phrase similar to ‘cock a brow at’. Depending on the context it can mean that someone is sceptical, puzzled, surprised or displeased.

I manana aku kape i tērā kōrero āna.
I was suspicious of that thing he said.

Hīnana ngā kape means to glare angrily or look fierce.

Mahia! Kei te hīnana ngā kape o Whaea Wu.
Get back to work. Mrs. Wu is glaring at us.

He tukemata anō tō te taonga is a whakataukī that means even wealth frowns, or in other words even the rich have problems and wealth brings its own troubles (like envy). The phrase he tukemata anō can also be used for anything to say “it’s not all roses”.

He tukemata anō tō te tūranga… matangaro ana i tōku whānau i te rahinga o te wā
This job isn’t always so great… I’m away from my family most of the time.

Puku te rae is another phrase for anger. Puku can mean a swelling or roundness; when you see the skin of the forehead and between the brows get all round and knobbly, you know they’re pretty damn mad.

Kua puku te rae o Pāpa!
Dad is furious!

Rae poto and rae roa are terms that come from a whakataukī “Tū ana a Raeroa, noho ana a Raepoto”. There are several possible meanings for both the proverb and the expressions by themselves (depending on who you ask) so it pays to be very clear which one you mean when using them.

  1. Rae poto are young, able bodied workers are rae roa are kaumātua.
  2. Rae poto are people who work hard and rae roa are those who laze around watching.
  3. Rae poto are young who sit eating when the rae roa (elders) are already finished.
  4. Rae poto are those who work hard and get to eat, rae roa didn’t work so they miss out.

Kei te mihi ki a koutou e ngā rae poto o tēnei marae.
I’d like to acknowledge you, the hard workers of this marae.

Rae oneone means back-biting, but I can’t for the life of me work out why. Perhaps it refers to ‘dirtying’ someone else with your comments?

Hei te rae oneone koe, ka kaha ki te kōrero.
When you talk about someone behind their back, you’ve got a lot to say.

Tēnā kia kite koe he kanohi, he kanohi, kāore koe e kaha
Then when you see them face to face, you’re not so brave.

Rae tōtara has a couple of translations. Firstly it’s a kīwaha for stubbornness (because there’s not enough of those in Māori). Tōtara is a hardwood so it’s similar to upoko mārō (hard-headed) but they’re also valuable trees whose red wood is associated with chiefs. Therefore rae totara is better defined as headstrong or unyeilding (which can be desirable qualities in a leader) than perverse or obstinate. The second definition is a person who tells unabashedly brazen lies.

He rae tōtara a Matiu ki te taupatupatu.
Matiu is unyeilding when debating.

Rae atu, rae mai is a lovely simple phrase meaning head-to-head.

I tūtira ngā kapa i te papa, rae atu rae mai, rae atu rae mai.
The teams stood in rows on the field, head-to-head, face-to-face, toe-to-toe.

Rae tangata is a euphemism for visitors, particularly important guests. Rae is used to refer to people generally and their status in particular.

Kia rite, kua tae mai a rae tangata.
Get ready, the guests have arrive.

Te rae anake is a phrase that generally refers to being without either a koha or ope. Usually it’s prefaced with a big fat “don’t” but it can also be used in other ways.

Kāore e tika kia haere ko te rae anake.
It’s not appropriate to turn up without a koha/supporters.

I tae mai tēnei rerenga ki Aotearoa ko tōna rae anake.
This refugee arrived in New Zealand with absolutely nothing.

Me utu ki tō rae is a whakataukī that can be directed to someone who does turn up without anything. I’m not talking about koha, more like someone who turns up to a negotiation but isn’t prepared to offer any concessions from their side, or someone who turns up to help but just stands around getting in the way.

Me utu ki tō rae.
Is your face all you have to give us?

Hē tō rae means to be worried over nothing (not to be confused with hē ō rā), i.e. your forehead is showing the wrong expression.

Kei te ora rātou, kua hē tō rae.
They’re fine, you’re worried over nothing.


4 thoughts on “About face

  1. Tērā tētahi rangi i whakahau mai ai e Te Wharehuia, “kaua e kaiponu ki te reo!” Ehara nā te ringa kaiponu ngā kōrero nei! He kaiako koe? Kei hea koe e mahi ana? Kō atu i te tapa ‘Ūpokopakaru!’ Nō hea rā koe? Ko wai koe? Kō atu i a Pānia Papa i tana hōtaka, kō atu i te momo o ngā pae kaiako i ngā kura reo, “kātahi anō ahau ka kite i ngā whakamārama e `mārakerake ana te kitea!” Kei te whakamiharo!

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