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Proverbial Living

17 March, 2022

This is a contribution that shines some ancient (and not so ancient) proverbial light onto contemporary living.

Unless you are living in isolation, we are all engaging with a diverse range of people and personalities every day.

There’s a whakatauki, or Māori proverb, that celebrates diversity :

E koekoe te tūī, E ketekete te kākā, E kūkū te kererū

The tui chatters, the parrot gabbles, the wood pigeon coos.


I love this whakatauki for its imagery, for the sound of the words and for its various meanings.  It recalls the birds in the forest that make up the chorus of birdsong. Even though each bird call is different, they harmonise, they sometimes clash, they call to each other to warn of danger, and also to mate; they crow to wake us up, and coo to put us to sleep.

Secondly, just as it is relevant to birdlife, it relates to our human lives.   It is an acknowledgement of our differences and our unique gifts that contribute to the world around us.

And thirdly, celebrating diversity is a human freedom that we sometimes take for granted in our part of the world, but has in fact been a hard won principle throughout history, and continues to be debated and fought over today.

We are so fortunate in Aotearoa New Zealand to have that freedom to celebrate diversity.  There are principles and behaviours that support an inclusive society and here are a few that come to mind:

– empathy for others

– empowering others

-eliminating extremism

– education on the Treaty of Waitangi, and our history

– economic equity

– enabling environments of respect, dignity and safety

– engaging with other people and other perspectives

– embracing differences

– enriching our society with the primary recognition of the spirit and values of Māori culture and language, and of other cultures

– embracing the lessons we have learned so we can foster new ideas, innovation, growth, and harmony.

The list of the ten ‘E’s above is about everyone doing things in their own way that contribute to whānau/family, and communities, and the greater good.  They are something to preserve and uphold, when there are societies that seem quite madly intent on self destruction because of a lack of acceptance of diversity.

Is this a full list? Do you have more principles to add?


How do you add your voice, your views, your perspective into the world today, that empowers you and others around you?  How do you embrace and support the diversity within your community, whānau/family, and workplace?

Arohanui~ big love

PS You may be interested in how whakatauki are used by Māori orators.  Māori proverbs are a connection to our ancestors, and to stories of the land, sea and sky of these islands, handed down through the generations; they are superb story telling devices that serve to underline a theme, enhance a point that needs to be made, acknowledge guests, friends and challengers, and give us insight into values, beliefs and ways of living that are unique to Aotearoa New Zealand.

Claire Porima Coaching.