Sink your teeth into this

Kīwaha to sink your teeth into.

Pakiri ngā niho is an expression for showing your teeth, generally due to a broad grin (but sometimes due to a grimace).

Ahakoa kei te pakiri ō rātou niho, kei te tīkoro ngā whatu.
Even though their mouths are grinning, there’s contempt in their eyes.

Kapiti ngā niho is an expression for clenching your teeth, generally in pain, fear or anger.

Kapiti ō niho, ka puritia kia ita.
Clench your teeth, and hold on tight.

Tetetete / kekekeke ngā niho are expressions for being so cold your teeth chatter.

Kuhuna tō koti, e tetetete ana ōu niho.
Put your coat on, you’re freezing!

Karihi te niho is a term for inflicting defeat.

Nā te Kapa o Pango i karihi te niho o ngā Kangarū.
It was the All Blacks who defeated the Aussies.

He rei ngā niho refers to having great ambition. A rei is a whale’s tooth; saying that someone has whale teeth is like saying someone has big cahones. Of course from a Māori perspective it’s not complimentary to have whale teeth (ambition) unless you also have whale jaws (ability) to carry them.

He rei ngā niho, he parāoa ngā kauae.
He has the ambition to carry out a great undertaking.

He niho tō te moni is perhaps my favourite whakataukī of the year (simple & clever – just how I like them). This one was originally used in reference to selling land, i.e. money costs and brings with it its own set of consequences and complications. However it’s a metaphor that’s easily applied to anything that has a potential risk or downside; it’s also found in other cultures such as Jamaica (marriage has teeth), Norway (time has teeth), and Russia (other people’s money has teeth).

He niho tō te kirimana.
There are conditions/obligations associated with the contract.


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