I spy with my little eye

Kanohi and mata mean face as well as eye, and both are used metaphorically for a representative.

Hei reira a Koko hei kanohi mā tātou.
Koko is going to be there as our representative.

Kanohi hōmiromiro refers to someone with keen vision (similar to the expression eagle-eyed in English). A hōmiromiro is a tomtit, a tiny wee bird who can spot even tinier things.

E Mā, kua ngaro taku peke.
Mum, I’ve lost my bag.

E te kanohi hōmiromiro, kei konā e pūkana mai nā.
Hey eagle-eyes, it’s right there staring you in the face.

Kanohi taiaha is a person who tries not to take sides in argument to keep on good terms with both parties, like Switzerland.

Kaua e pātai mai, he kanohi taiaha tēnei ki tā kōrua taukumekume.
Don’t ask me, I’m staying neutral in your ‘tug of war’.

Rekanga kanohi is a phrase to describe a dream or vision, or alternately a sight to behold.

He rekanga kanohi te maunga e kākahuria ana ki te hukapapa.
The mountain covered in snow is a vision of beauty.

Kainga kanohi is an expression refering to the visible area, the view or vista, i.e. that which is consumed by the eyes.

Mai i Te Waipounamu ki te Tai Tonga te kainga kanohi o tōku whare
The view from my house goes from the South Island to the south coast.

Kitenga kanohi is a phrase meaning seeing a face, which comes from a longer whakataukī, but it can be used as a phrase in it’s own right.

He kitenga kanohi, he hokinga mahara
A familiar face stirs the memory.

Kanohi kitea has two meanings. In the Williams dictionary it’s defined as a raid or incursion. However, these days it refers to being a visible presence, a familiar face, particularly by returning to the marae regularly.

I ngā tini mahi o te tau, ehara ia i te kanohi kitea.
In all the work needing to be done in the year, his face wasn’t seen.

Kanohi kai matarae is ‘the eye that watches the headlands’, a kīwaha for someone skilled in patient observation, waiting for the right time, circumstance or opportunity.

He kanohi kai matarae tāku kurī; ka taka te paku kai… rē! Kua pau.
My dog just sits and watches; if a little bit of food falls… snap! It’s gone.

Mata hewa is a wee description of someone having no eyebrows (I can’t think when you’ll ever need this but I’m being thorough). Hewa means to be bald (on the top of the head), so mata hewa means being bald on the top of your eyes.

He mata hewa tōku kuia, he mea tuhi ōna.
My grandma has no eyebrows, hers are drawn on.

Mata renga, mata kohore and mata harere are all expressions for bleary eyes, i.e. red, raw, tired, watery, unfocused, and dim or blurry sight.

Katia ō mata renga
Close your tired eyes

Mata karapa is a phrase that means looking askance. Karapa means squinting, so this phrase is like ‘narrowing the eyes at’ in English, a euphemism for suspicion or skepticism.

I mata karapa te kaihoko ki a mātou.
The shopkeeper looked at us with suspicion.

Haere mata ngaro is a term for travelling incognito, flying under the radar so to speak.

Kotahi pō noa iho taku noho ki Tāmaki.
Ka haere mata ngato au kei riria e tōku whaea kēkē.
I’m only staying in Auckland for one night.
I’m keeping it on the D-L so my aunt doesn’t get mad at me

Matangaro is also used as an adjective meaning absent and is used poetically for those who have passed away.

Haere atu rā ki te hunga matangaro.
Farewell and depart to the host of the absent.

Tīkoro ngā whatu means to roll the eyes at something, generally in exasperation or dislike.

Ahakoa te aha, tīkoro ō rātou whatu ki ōku whakaaro.
I doesn’t matter what I suggest, they just roll their eyes at it.

Tīkorokoro ngā whatu also means to roll the eyes about but this time it means to ‘make eyes at someone’ in a flirtatious manner.

Tīkorokoro ō whatu ki a ia
Give him the eye.

Whākanakana ngā whatu means to glare angrily.

Kei te whākanakana a Pāpā ki tana whaiāipo hou.
Dad’s giving her new boyfriend the stink eye.

Titiro pī means to look askance or skeptically at something or to eye someone up. The is the corner of the eye (hence pī karu – the name for that gunk you get in the mornings).

I kuhuna te whare, ā, i titiro pī te katoa ki ahau.
I entered the house and everyone looked at me out of the corners of their eyes.


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