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Grammar of the New Zealand Language

Chapter VI. — Of the Pronouns

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Chapter VI.
Of the Pronouns.

The personal pronouns of Maori are as follows:
Taua, you and I.Tatou, you all and myself.
Ahau, or au, I.Maua, he and I.Matou, they and myself.
Koe, thou.Korua, you two.Koutou, ye.
Ia, he.Raua, they two.Ratou, they.

The first person dual and plural has, as may be seen in the above table, two forms, taua and tatou, maua and matou; the former class may be denominated inclusive, the latter exclusive. For example:

The speaker of a company, who is addressing a person just come in, uses matou; e tatari ana matou ki a koe, we are, or have been waiting for you. If he means that only himself and another have been waiting, he uses maua, e tatari ana maua kia a koe: but when he addresses the whole company he uses tatou; Tatou ki te kai, let us go to dinner. If however he is addressing only page 28 another beside himself, he uses taua; Taua ki te kai, let us (two) go to dinner. Again, if he says, No matou tenei kainga, he tells you, the hearer, that he and others possess this farm. If he says, No maua tenei kainga, he tells you that he and some other person already mentioned possess it. If however he use tatou, No tatou tenei kainga, he means that all that he is addressing have a share in it. If he says, No taua tenei kainga, he tells you, the hearer, that it belongs to you and himself.

Note.—The student will find hereafter that the dual number is sometimes used for the plural.

In addressing an individual ia is sometimes used in the second person by Ngapuhi; e.g., Eia. It is used in a very strange combination also with wai by some tribes; e.g.,

  • Ko wai ia? who said so?

The Personal Pronouns admit, in the singular, of declension; e.g.,


  • Nom. Ahau or Au, I.

  • Poss. Naku, or Noku, mine.

  • Obj. Ahau, or Au (preceded by some preposition) e g.,
    • Ki a au, or, ki ahau, to me,

    • E a hau, or, e au, by me,

    • Maku or Moku, for me.


  • Nom. Koe, thou,

  • Poss. Nau or Nou. thine.

  • Obj. Koe (preceded by some preposition); e. g.,
    • kei a koe, with thee.

    • Mau and Mou, for you.


  • Nom. Ia, he.

  • Poss. Nona, or Nana, his or hers.

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  • Obj. Ia (preceded by some preposition); e. g.,
    • I a ia, from him or from her.

    • Mona and Mana, for him, or for her.

Pronouns, in common with nouns, have no gender. There is no word in Maori to denote the pronoun it with its dual and plural Their place is generally supplied by some artifice of the construction, as will be shewn in the Syntax.

Of the Possessive Pronouns.

As the possessive pronouns are closely connected with the personal, they may be mentioned next.

They are as follows:
Toku, or tāku, or tăku, my.Oku, āku, or ăku, my.
Tou, to, or tau. thy.Ou, o, au, thy
Tona, tāna, or tăna, his.Ona, āna, ăna, his.

The other possessive pronouns are formed from the dual and plural of their respective pronouns by prefixing o; e.g.,

o taua, of us two. o tatou, our.
o maua, of us two. o matou, our.
o korua, of you two. o koutou, your.
o raua, of them two. o ratou, their.

Such words as himself, his own, my own, &c., are expressed in Maori by some adverb added in the sentence; e g., Nona ake ano tona aroha ki a tatou, his love to us was his own; i. e., was self-derived.

The adverbs most usually employed for this purpose are ake, ano, noa, iho, tonu.

Relative Pronouns.

The next in order are the relative pronouns. For these there is no distinct form in Maori. Sometimes they are wholly omitted in the sentence; e.g.

  • Ko te tangata tenei i patua e Hone, this is the man that was beaten by John.

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At other times their place is supplied by some artifice of the construction. Vid. S.

Demonstrative Pronouns.

The demonstrative pronouns are as follows: Taua, tenei, tena, tera, and their respective plurals, aua, enei, ena, era.

Tenei and aua are used for that and those. Tenei is applied to the object nearest at hand, or to the point of discourse to which the speaker had last alluded; tena to an object near to, or connected with, you the person spoken to; tera to an object farther remote; e. g.,

  • No Hone tenei ware, this is John's house.

  • No Penehamine tena, that one near you.

  • No Kukutai tera, that one farther off is Kukutai's.

The same distinction is to be observed in the plural number.

It may be questioned whether tenei and its branches are not, like to, (vid. article) compounded of two words, viz. te and nei, &c. They can always, at least, be resolved into them; e. g., Ho mai tena mea, give me that thing, is the same as ho mai te mea na. There is, however, a little difference in the uses of these two forms which the attentive student will discover by observation.

Nei, na, and ra. are mostly added (like the ci, and la of French) to point at the object more forcibly.

When the speaker wishes to denote the object with familiarity, contempt, &c. he generally uses the resolved form; e g., Ka hinga ahsu i te wakatakariri ki te tangata nei, I fall with anger at the fellow here.

Sometimes we meet with nei and its branches twice repeated; e. g., tenei na, tera ra.

Nei, &c., are often used in asking questions; e.g., nei na? Is this il? Rara? Is that it?

Note.—The speaker should be careful in speaking not to confound this demi-pronoun with the interrogative particle Ne.

Sometimes we meet with ia used as a demoastrative, e. g.,

  • Tona wenua kai ha ia, that is the very land of food.

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NoteAnei, and ara are often used by Ngapuhi for enei and era.

The interrogative Pronouns.

The interrogative pronouns are wai, aha, tehea, and its plural ehea, kohea, and sometimes, (particularly in Waikato,) pehea.

Wai is applied (1) to persons, and (2) to animals or things, as canoes, ships, &c., to which the name of a man has been given, and is always the pronoun used in asking the question, What is his name? It is some times applied to countries, &c.; but, in such cases kohea is the pronoun most frequently used.

The following are examples of the uses of wai and kohea:

  • Ko wai tena? Who is that?

  • Na wai tenei? Whose is this?

  • Ko wai tena kuri? Who is that dog? i. e., what is his name?

  • Ko wai tena poti? ko Wikitoria, what boat is that? ans. Victoria.

  • Ko wai tona ingoa? What is his name?

  • Ko wai tena whenua? What country is that?

  • Kohea tenei? What place is this?

Note.—Wai will sometimes take the plural form by having ma postflxed; e. g., Ko wai ma ena? Who are they?

Aha is applied to everything in which kind is denoted; so also is pehea sometimes:


  • He aha tena mea? what (insect, animal, or thing) is that

  • Ko Hone aha? which John was it?—(was it John the Baptist, or John the Apostle?)

  • He aha a Erihapeti ki a Hone? what (relation) is Elizabeth to John?

  • Na te aha? from what cause? (why?)

  • Pehea ana to whakaaro? what is your thought? i. e., what do you think?

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  • E taea te pehea? what can be done? how can it be helped?

  • He kai pehea tena kai? what kind of food is that?

Note.—The above sentence decides the right of pehea to be considered a pronoun. Most of the compounds however of hea; such as, kohea, pehea, nohea, ihea, mohea, &c., ought most probably to be considered as belonging to the class of adverbs.

The student will find, as we proceed, that the lines of distinction between the various classes of pronoun, adverb, preposition, noun, verb and adjective, are frequently but faintly marked, and that the same word may be often noticed as standing as standing in four or five different ranks.

Tehea, and its plural ehea, is applied to which of a number, and is used to denote persons, or things; e. g.,

  • Ko tehea tau e pai ai? which do you choose?

  • Ko ehea tangata au e ki nei, which men do you speak of?

Note.— Pronouns are sometimes employed to denote the time of the sentence, as will be seen hereafter. (vid. verbs.)

The Distributive Pronouns.

Each and every one, are expressed by the demonstrative or possessive pronoun, and the noun twice or thrice repeated; e g.,

  • Haria mai e tera tangata, e tera taegata, tana kono riwai, bring each man his basket of potatoes.

  • Ia tangata ia tangata, each man.

  • I tenei ra i tenei ra, each day.

  • E warea ana ki tana mahi ki tana mahi, each is engaged with his own particular business.

The Indefinite Pronouns.

Some other and any, are most frequently denoted by te tahi, and its plural e tahi; sometimes also by the preposition i; (vid. prepositions.)

  • Kua kite ahau i e tahi, I saw some (of them).

  • Ko e tahi kihai i kitea e ahau, some I did not see.

  • Kahore kau ahau i kite i te tahi, I did not see any at all.

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Whatever, whatsoever, &c., are expressed in various ways; as may be seen in the following examples:

  • Ko nga men katoa e mea ai koutou, or whatever ye do, Col. 3, 17.

  • Ko nga aha noa &c. &c. whatever ye do, Col. 3, 17.

  • Ko ta koutou e inoi ai i toku ingoa, whatever ye ask in my name.

  • Kia ho atu ki a ia tana mea e inoi ai ia, to give her whatsoever she would ask, Mat. 14, 7.

  • Ka kai koutou, ka inu, ka aha ranei, whether ye eat or drink or whatever ye do. 1 Cor. 10, 31.