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the riches of te reo – val goold

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He mihi nui ki a koutou katoa.

I am on a journey of learning the wonder-full Te Reo Maori (Maori language).  The more I learn the more I appreciate how it can enrich my understanding of this land, this community in Aotearoa, the depth of communication, and most of all God Himself.  I am discovering that te reo is transforming my preaching and it is my hope that this blog post might allow more people of this place to catch a glimpse of the riches of te reo….

A key feature of te reo is the frequent use of whakatauki (proverbs).  These short sayings convey huge meaning in te reo and for anyone who wants to delve a little deeper into the language, whakatauki are an excellent place to start.  What might it mean to Kiwi-made preaching to reflect on the language of this land, in the light of the gospel, and then communicate it to our community?  I hope that follows might be an initial example of the richness that can come from this…

 Ma te rongo, ka mohio;
ma te mohio, ka marama;
ma te marama, ka matau;
ma te matau, ka ora

Taking each phrase step by step….

Ma te rongo, ka mohio

Ma – In this whakauki, this is probably best interpreted as through, or by way of.

Rongo – in Maori the same word is often a verb and a noun.  Rongo is most commonly used to mean hear, but it also means to taste, smell, and feel – the full sensory experience (Psalm 34:8).  Rongo also means the message and forms the basis of the word Rongopai which is the word used for the ‘Good news’ or the gospel.

Mohio –  this can be translated as cognisance, recognition, or comprehension and, as an example, is used to describe when you know enough about someone that you would recognise them as they walked in the door.

Therefore a succinct translation of ‘Ma te rongo, ka mohio’ is ‘It is through hearing (and tasting and feeling and smelling) that there is comprehension’ and it could equally be understood that ‘it is through the message that there is initial understanding.’

How will people know if they do not hear?  This whakatauki communicates that while hearing is perhaps the dominant sense the opportunity is for it to be a full orbed experience of the message of God.

 Ma te mohio, ka marama

Marama – often means enlightenment or deep understanding, and the word also means moon (a light shining in the darkness – John 1:4-5) .

Thus ‘Ma te mohio, ka marama,’ suggests that beyond recognition comes enlightenment.  This whakatauki, seen through the lens of the gospel, helps me describe that my key role as a preacher is to help people recognise God and to increasingly comprehend his place and relationship with this world, but that it takes a work of the Spirit, like light in the darkness, to effect deep learning and transformation.

 Ma te marama, ka matau

Matau – was used to describe when people became skilled in one area of community life for the benefit of all the community (eg expert in fishing).

‘Ma te marama, ka matau’  – as God deepens our understanding it is not just to be kept for ourselves, but utilised to bring benefit to the whole community.  For anyone who has the opportunity to preach there is the challenge to work hard at what we are called to do so that God’s inspired message will be communicated for the benefit of the whole community.

 Ma te matau, ka ora

Ora – means life, whole well-being.

‘Ma te matau, ka ora’,  – when our God inspired knowledge is used to serve the whole community, God brings life and restoration.

 Ma te rongo, ka mohio;          (Through resonance comes cognisance)
ma te mohio, ka marama;      (Through cognisance comes understanding;)
ma te marama, ka matau;     (Through understanding comes knowledge)
ma te matau, ka ora               (Through knowledge comes life)

 It is by way of this rongo, mohio, marama, and matau that we can know and experience God in his fullness, for he is and brings ora.

Ka korero ano

3 Comments

  1. Helen Brereton says:

    Kia ora Val,
    Thank you for the gift of this whakatauki and it’s interpretation! I appreciate the challenges to reflect theologically on the wisdom orature of Aotearoa, to see where God has revealed Himself in the thinkings and sayings of this land, and to use this sensitively to share the great news in our communities.
    Arohanui
    Helen

  2. David Raea says:

    Hi Val,
    What comes to mind is ” taste & see the Lord is good”. The premise of enlightenment was always diametrically opposed to the recognition of a living existencial God. Simplistically speaking; Heidegger spoke of existence in a defined manner in his writings “poetry language thought” he suggests that we need to dwell & not just exist. For Heidegger dwelling can only occur when we live & are at peace; with God (Atua), our environment- being land & people (whenua & he tangata) &, our own histories (or whakapapa). That language or rather poetry created the concept of dwelling. It is through our articulation that dwelling truly occurs.
    Ka Ora in some way is the outflow of this unity; a sense of wholeness. Not just for the person concerned but also for all those who share their lives in unity.
    In Genesis; God spoke …then later, looked upon all he created & saw that it was good.
    Their is a deeper wisdom at work as you have rightly noted Helen.

    Kia manuia.

  3. Xenia says:

    Who is this whakatauki by?

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