Story: Māori humor - te whakakata

Humorous song

Humorous song

The Ngāi Te Rangi inhabitants of Mayor Island (Tūhua) off the Bay of Plenty coast, were frequently raided by other tribes. When a party of Ngāti Whakaue men from Rotorua returned empty-handed from one raiding expedition, their women responded with a ngeri, or traditional song of derision:

Ma wai e moe te tane
Mangere ke te mahi-kai?
He ra te kai ki taua kiri – e!…

E kore e pai ta te tangata
Ka puta ki te riri
Ka aha, ka oho,
Mataku ana te whenua
Ona ana te kiore – e!

Who would marry the man
Too lazy to work his land?
The sun is food for his fat belly – eh!...

I don’t like the habits of men
When they go out to fight
They aha, they oho
They korerorero
The very ground is terrified
The rats all run for their lives
And that’s that!

Using this item

GNS Science
Reference: CN9167/9
Photograph by Lloyd Homer

Permission of GNS Science must be obtained before any use of this image.

All images & media in this story

How to cite this page:

Mark Derby, 'Māori humor - te whakakata - Traditional forms of humour', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 21 January 2022)

Story by Mark Derby, published 5 Sep 2013