Cook Islands Māori Proverbs We Should All Use In Our Daily Lives

The poetic beauty of Māori proverbs

The Cook Islands. A tropical archipelago nation rich in Polynesian culture located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

My family recently returned from the “Cooks” spending our time on the largest of the 15 islands; Rarotonga. What a beautiful part of the world.

While I could carry on about the postcard perfect Muri Lagoon, the lush landscape of the island’s centre or that there are triangle $2 coins (yes it’s true!) in circulation throughout the Cook Islands, you won’t find any more reference to the above in this blog post..sorry.


Triangle coins!

That’s because while in Rarotonga, I picked up a copy of the local tourist mag, only to find an interesting piece referencing the Cook Islands Māori proverbs.

These poetic nature-based metaphors make up part of the Cook Islands Māori language. I can’t help but think we should use some of these imaginative phrases in our everyday lives. I’m sure you’ll agree:

“Karikao pao ngata”

Translated to: a hard to crack seashell

Meaning: said of a person who is stubbon.


“Oore a meika para ua”

Translated to: skin it like a banana.

Meaning: easy to defeat/easily achieved.


“Kare a mango e tuck i tana kai e mate uatu”

Translated to: the shark does not give up its food.

Meaning: said of a person who shows great tenacity.


Moemoe a panako”

Translated to: the small fish that never sleeps.

Meaning: to be wary, watchful and wide awake.


“E tumurangi matangi ra i ua”

Translated to: a storm cloud but no rain.

Meaning: said of a person who says they will give but then forgets about it. Someone you can’t trust.


“Auraka e kai mata i te vi”

Translated to: Don’t eat the mangoes while they are green.

Meaning: don’t do anything in haste. Be patient.


There are so many more Cook Island Māori proverbs worthy of a mention, but I’ll leave you with the above six to decide which one is your favourite!

Oh, and if you are interested in hearing more about the Cook Islands, read my story: Road Trip: Rarotonga Cook Islands on Our Family Travels.

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