Whakataukī (Māori proverbs)

Whakataukī give an insight into Māori thought. The word whakataukī can be split into whaka (to cause), tau (to be settled) and kī (a saying), thus a whakataukī is a saying that has become settled over time, through constant repetition from the time it was first exclaimed right up to the present day.

A whakatauākī is a proverb where the original speaker is known, for example “Ehara a Hikurangi i te maunga haere” was said by Te Kani-a-Takirau of Ngāti Porou so is a whakatauākī, whereas “Ahakoa he iti, he pounamu” is a whakataukī as it is not known who originally said this.

Below are links to collections of whakataukī, as well as books on the subject:

Online collections

Whakataukī (University of Victoria Electronic Text)
An extensive list of macronized whakataukī, complete with iwi-specific proverbs at the bottom.

Whakataukī (Royal Society of New Zealand Journal 1879, curated by the National Library)
An excellent list of whakataukī written in 1879 and organised into topics, with translation and explanation – there are many here that I have never seen before. Unfortunately there are no macrons used on this site. 

Whakataukī (naumaiplace.com)
A list of whakataukī, organised into topics, with translation and explanation. These whakataukī are taken directly from The Read Book of Maori Proverbs which is available at many libraries and contains a lot more.

Whakataukī (maori.cl)
A list of whakataukī with translation and explanation – be wary with pronunciation however as there are no macrons used on the page.

Whakataukī (maori.org.nz)
A list of whakataukī with translation – be wary with pronunciation however as there are no macrons used on the page.

Whakataukī (TV Show)
This Māori Television show is about the proverbs heard within the subtribes and tribes of the country, presented in the Māori language. Rāhui Papa interviews tribal language experts for the story context of each proverb, its origins and more comprehensive meaning. He also delves in-depth to the expressions and words of the language, and various language functions. All episodes can be streamed free online.


Ngā Pepeha a ngā Tūpuna – The Sayings of the Ancestors by Hirini Moko Mead – An incredible collection, with whakataukī, translations and appropriate contexts

Wise Words of the Māori: Revealing History and Traditions by Murdoch Riley – Another extensive collection.

The Raupō Book of Māori Proverbs by A.E. Broughton and A.W. Reed, revised by Tīmoti Kāretu – A great collection, grouped by topic


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