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upokopakaru, talks sex in Maori, #brilliant

upokopakaru, talks sex in Maori, #brilliant

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We came across upokopakaru, a brilliant blogger, and had to share, just what we were looking for, do check the rest of the blog out, koi stuff whanau tino koi!

Let’s talk about sex by Upokopakaru (check out the full blog here)

Usually I get my students to make up their own stories using new sentence structures – if the contexts are funny or relevant to their regular lives, they’re more likely to remember the lessons.

So the other day one of my students was describing guy-meet-girl pub senario which ended with:

[sws_grey_box box_size="620"]Ka mahi ai a Piripi i a Mereana [/sws_grey_box]

Ohmygod, I thought, I hope not.

While mahi ai can mean to copulate, to have sex, it wasn’t until I heard it that I realised how bad it sounded. You see, ai and ati also mean progeny and procreate; it sounded as if Piripi and Mereana ‘made babies‘, which I’m pretty sure is the last thing a one-night stand wants to have. By the way, this is where we get the words Ngai, Ngati, Te Ati and Aitanga.

[sws_grey_box box_size="620"]

Ngai Tahu = Nga ai a Tahu
The descendants of Tahu

Ngati Tuwharetoa = Nga ati a Tuwharetoa
The progeny of Tuwharetoa

Te Ati Haunui-a-Paparangi
The descendants of Haunui-a-Paparangi

Te Aitanga a Mahaki
The progeny of Mahaki


Even though ai can be translated as to have sex with, there is an implied meaning that it resulted in pregnancy as in narratives where we already know the outcome.

[sws_grey_box box_size="620"]

aitia te wahine a Whakaue ko Rangiuru e Tuwharetoa.
Tuwharetoa had sex with Whakaue’s wife Rangiuru
(and she became pregnant with Tutanekai).


In modern contexts it can be used for either sex or to impregnate; just be careful, that’s how rumours start.

[sws_grey_box box_size="620"]aitia a Mereana e Piripi

Piripi had sex with Mereana
Piripi got Mereana pregnant [/sws_grey_box]

A more discrete way to describe a hook-up is using the word piri, which means to cling, stick, attach. It doesn’t mean that they had sex, just that they are (or were) together in some way.

[sws_grey_box box_size="620"]

I rangona kua piri a Mereana raua ko Piripi inapo?
Did you hear that Mereana and Piripi got together last night?


If you wanted to emphasise that it’s serious between them you could use pumau, meaningfixed, constant or permanent. It’s also used to describe loyalty and faithfulness in relationships.

[sws_grey_box box_size="620"]

Kua pumau a Piripi raua ko Mereana.
Piripi and Mereana have gotten serious.

He tau pumau raua.
They’re soul mates.


Another word used for sex is ekeeke. Eke means to mount (e.g. eke pahikara bike riding, or whakaeke marae go onto the marae). It’s used for mating animals not generally for people; if you do it will sound crass and explicit.

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Ka arahia mai tana puru kia ekeekea nga kau.
His bull was brought over to mate with the cows.

ekeeke raua.
They fucked.


The most common word for sex is moe(a) which means to sleep with someone or to bed someone; however it also means to marry. You need to be very careful with this word!

[sws_grey_box box_size="620"]

moe te tama ki te taha o tona whaea.
The boy slept with (next to) his mother.

moe te tama i tona whaea.
The boy slept with (married) his mother.


A student once got cross with me because she wanted to differentiate between how long her and her partner had been together (in a de-facto relationship with kids) and how long they had been legally married. She wouldn’t accept that they’re the same thing in te reo.

From a Maori perspective, if you slept together, lived together and had children together, you were married – with or without a ceremony. It doesn’t mean that you couldn’t split up but sharing a bed with someone was a serious commitment. If you want to specify an introduced tradition use an introduced word, marena.

In a modern context you can use moe in a more casual way.

[sws_grey_box box_size="620"]

moe a Piripi i a Mereana.
Piripi slept with Mereana.


Or use it to describe committed, living-together relationships (de-facto, civil union, marriage).

[sws_grey_box box_size="620"]

Kua moe a Piripi raua ko Mereana.
Piripi and Mereana are ‘married’.



About upokopakaru

I’m a teacher te reo M?ori but since I’m a second-language speaker, I’ll also be a student for the rest of my life. Currently that involves post-graduate studies in te reo.

Upokopakaru started as a way for me to organise my notes and other idle musings – sometimes about what I’m learning, othertimes about what I’m teaching. It’s also a useful repository for cute phrases that I hear (but have no immediate use for) so that I don’t forget them.

But it’s also a way of sharing things I love with other people who love te reo too. There aren’t many resources for people like us – adequate speakers of te reo who want to get better, who gush over the beauty of a new word or are amused by a new turn of phrase.

Most of what I post will be about words and phrases I like, or I might have a rant about a knotty point of grammar. However you won’t find opinion pieces about the state of te reo blah blah blah… I’m really too busy learning te reo to bother convicing others of it’s merit.

And why is it called upokopakaru? If you’ve learnt te reo, you already know.

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