He Taiao He Tinana – E Rua e Rua: The Environment and the Body – One and the Same

Authors: Hone Morris (Massey University)
Speakers: Hone Morris
Topic: Language, Te Reo Māori, Environment, Māori Language
The (SCOPUS / ISI) SOAS GLOCAL COMELA 2021 General Session


“In the ever present climate of global warming, climate change and the growing awareness of the need to protect and respect our environment this perspective of connected geneology will assist in providing a conceptual lens to encourage one to view the environment as a living organism, breathing with moods and emotions similar to the human body that is totaly interconnected. Through an analysis of the linguistic terms placed on the land by my tīpuna (ancestors) in Aotearoa/New Zealand I will provide a unique perspective that individuals can utilise to solidify their own personal relationship to the taiao (environment), to Papatūānuku (Mother Earth), to Ranginui (Father Sky) and the energies that sustain life. This analysis may also provide a conduit for comparison or contrast of indigenous perspective globally.

A Māori perspective towards the environment includes the human body and its energies. This presentation looks at the words used by my ancestors for parts of the body and the words used in describing various parts of the environment. Collating these words will show the intimate understanding my ancestors had towards the environment and its rhythms.

The Māori word for land is whenua which it also the word used by the ancestors for placenta as both sustain life. The Māori Language (Te Reo Māori) has many examples to support the notion that the language of the environment and the language of the body are inseparable.

The word = breath and emanates from the seat of the emotions aro. As the breath ascends through the body, it passes through the throat korokoro and on to the tongue arero. The breath then exits the mouth as voice reo­—the word and phonetical expression originating from the word for tongue arero and as speech kōrero—the phonetical expression and word originating from the words for throat korokoro and tongue arero. The breath shapes the words through the energy of love, compassion aroha—the phonetical expression of the two syllables originating from the words for the seat of emotions aro and the breath .

These are a few examples of what my presentation will explain when sharing the conceptual origins of Te Reo Māori.”