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Maori carvings

Nōku te korikori, nōu te korikori tahi

This saying has its origins in an historical event, which has been reconfigured for the relationship between Ngāi Tahu and the University of Otago. The Ngāti Kurī leader, Maru Kaitātea, uttered the first phrase, "Nōku te korikori". The saying occurred when Maru Kaitātea approached another hostile iwi who held his wives captive. On approaching the fortified pā, Maru Kaitātea sensed danger and said to his slave, "Nōku te korikori", meaning, "Act in accord with me" and to watch carefully.

As the warriors came forth to challenge, one cast his spear. Maru moved and evaded the attack but his slave did not and was killed. Sir Tipene O'Regan bests summarises the saying as follows, "The expression 'Nōku te kori kori tahi!' has become a traditional saying of Kai Tahu carrying the sense of an assertion of self interest regardless...". Ngāi Tahu also see the saying as stating relationships within Ngāi Tahu of who leads and acts on behalf of the tribe and who does not.

The addition of, "nōu te korikori tahi", (your's alone is to move) qualifies the nature of the first phrase by referring to the autonomy of the University and its capacity to act independently. The addition balances the previous and implies an equal relationship.

Taken together, both phrases are intended to imply the independence and autonomy of each institution, but in an agreement of partnership they must act in co-operation if there is to be a successful outcome rather than the one suffered by the slave of Maru Kaitātea.

This explanation to the proverb has been provided by Dr Te Maire Tau of Te Tapuae o Rehua, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu.

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