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Grammar of the New Zealand Language

Chapter V. — Of the Numerals

page 24

Chapter V.
Of the Numerals.

Numerals in Maori abound in distinctions that are not to be met with in other languages.

Tahi, one, has sometimes a form peculiar to itself, being prefixed by ko. All between tahi and tekau may be prefixed by e. All the simple numbers, i. e. all loss than ten, will, when preceding the higher numbers, take their ordinary prefixes; e. g.

  • E rua, two—e rua rau, two hundred.

  • Ka toru, three—ka toru nga rau, three hundred, or it is 300.

  • Kia wha, let it be four—kia wha mano, let it be four thousand &c.

  • Ka rima five,—ka rima mano, five thousand, &c.

  • Ka rima tekau,—fifty, &c., &c., &c.

Numbers between ten and twenty are expressed by ten and unit; e. g.

  • E ono, six,—tekau ma ono (ten and six) sixteen.

  • E whitu, seven,—tekau ma whitu, seventeen.

Twenty, and all numbers betweeu twenty and a hundred, may be expressed in two ways:

1st, (which is now the more general,) by a unit preceding ten; e. g., e ono tekau, (six tens) sixty; ka iwa tekau, ninety, &c.

2ndly, by hoko prefixed to the unit; e.g., hokorua twenty.

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Note.—The Maori mode of counting has always, heretofore, been by pairs: thus hokorua, twenty, stands for twenty pair, i. e. forty, and so on. When they wish it 10 be understood singly they postfix taki-taki to the numeral adjective; e. g., hokorua taki-taki, twenty. Sometimes topu, or pu, is postfixed to make it more clear that the double of the number is intended; e. g., e waru topu, (eight doubled) sixteen.

Ngahuru, with Ngapuhi, denotes ten, and tekau, eleven. In this, the central part of the island, as far as Taupo, ngahuru and tekau represent both of them ten.

In expressing a sum of tens and units, the smaller number follows ten or its multiple, and is connected with it by the numeral conjunction ma; e. g., thirtyfour is denoted by “e toru tekau ma wha.”

In expressing a sum of hundreds, with tens and units, the tens are postfixed to the hundreds without a ma intervening; e. g., 136 is expressed by “ko tahi rau, e toru tekau, ma ono.”

A sum of thousands, hundreds, tens and units, is expressed in the same way, the particle ma only intervening between the ten and the unit; e. g, 1136 is expressed by “ko tahi mano, ko tahi rau, e toru tekau, ma ono.”

Note.—It should be here noticed that this is the new mode of reckoning brought in by Europeans, and now fast spreading over the land. The old mode is not so convenient in calculation; but it is often heard; 240 would according to it, be thus expressed; Ko tahi rau ma rau, lit. one hundred and two. Two, here, stands for (twice ten) twenty doubled.

250 would run thus, ko tahi rau ma rua pu tautahi, one hundred and two double, and a tautahi, an odd one.

4900 would run thus; e rua mano ma wha, hokorima to tuma; two thousand, four hundred double, fifty double is the tuma, the exess.

For all beyond a thousand there is, we suspect, a considerable diversity in the nomenclature of different tribes. In Waikato and Taupo 10,000 double, (i. e., 20,000 according to our reckon ing,) would be a tini, ten tini, (i. e., 100,000 double) would be indifferently called ngera, rea, hea. All beyond that would be denominated by a tini makehua, a tuaururi whaioio, (or maioio) a tini whakarere, &c.

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For denoting a number of persons less than ten, toko is generally prefixed to the numeral; e. g.,

  • tokowhitu tatou, we are seven in number.

For denoting distribution tataki is prefixed to the numeral; kia tataki rua pu nga utu i te tangata, let each man have four payments.

Note.—Tataki prefixed does not always denote distribution; e.g., Ka tataki-hia nga whakato o ta koutou mara? How many baskets (are these) that have been sown in your cultivation.

In measuring length, a fraction is denoted by huka; e.g.,

  • E ono whatianga, huka to te whitu, It is six whatiangas* long, not quite seven.

  • E waru maro*, huka to te iwa, It is eight maro, not quite nine.

Ordinals.—The ordinal numbers are formed:

1. By tua prefixed to the cardinal; e.g., tua toru third, tua iwa, ninth.

2. By whaka prefixed; e.g., whakatekau, tenth.

3. By the simple cardinal with the definite article, ko te wha tenei o aku haerenga mai, this is the fourth of my comings here; i.e., this is the fourth time I have come here.

* Whatianga corresponds to the ancient cubit—maro is what a man can measure with his extended arms.