Our business cards: what does the whakataukī mean?

You've probably seen our new business cards, which include a whakataukī (or proverb) on the back. Craig Pauling, Kaiarataki - Te Hihiri, explains the origin and meaning.

This is the result of our Te Hīhiri consultants working alongside our marketing team to incorporate something special into our cards.

You may also note that the cards include a watermark image of some raranga (weaving), which is actually of the kete (weaved kit) that most of our offices have.

Both the whakataukī and kete come from Boffa Miskell’s Vision and Values document and were incorporated through the feedback of the Te Hīhiri team.

The kete were specifically made for us to accompany the gifting and launching of the Vision and Values, as well as to provide authentic images for future documents and communications. The kete also related to the meaning of the whakataukī.

Our whakataukī, is adapted from an original proverb attributed to Tāwhiao of Ngāti Mahuta and Waikato Tainui – the second Māori King of the Kīngitanga.  Tāwhiao was the son of Potatau Te Wherowhero, the first Māori King, and he reigned from 1860 to 1894, during some of the most turbulent years of early Māori-Pakeha interaction.

So what does the whakataukī mean?

Kotahi te aho ka whati;
ki te kāpuia e kore e whati

One strand of flax is easy to break, but many strands together will stand strong

Essentially the whakataukī is about unity and working together. It’s an important theme in many Māori proverbs; and, of course, critical in achieving our collective company goals.  The original used by Tāwhiao was a call for unity and strength amongst his people, and other tribes, in the face of the devastation and injustices of land confiscation and the New Zealand wars.  In this way, it is a valuable reminder of our shared history as well as a powerful statement of the importance of moving forward together.

Kotahi in this context means ‘one’; aho refers to a strand (of flax – produced by scraping a harakeke leaf); whati means to break; kāpuia means to gather up in a bunch (as you would when making a rope, or in weaving a kete); and kore in this context means ‘never’ or that it will not happen, ie. that together the strands will not break.

A good reference for trying to understand Te Reo Māori is the on-line Maori Dictionary.  There are numerous books and websites with compilations of whakataukī if you are interested in these, including via the Te Taura Whiri (Māori Language Commission).

For further information please contact Craig Pauling

31 August 2018