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Thursday, July 1, 2010


I've decided that a new polyglot Pasifika language is mysteriously and wonderfully blooming in New Zealand.  Already we talk about kai when it is ready to eat, whanau for a supportive group, and pat the puku when we are full.  I was amused the other day when I bought coffee and a muffin at a roadside cafe on Kelburn Parade.  The handsome young Polynesian male who carried them to my table observed as he set down the muffin, "Watch out for the manus."

Well, manu is the word for "bird" all over the Pacific, as far as I know.  When I looked at him inquiringly, he elaborated with a gesture at the sliding doors, "The little manus, they fly in from outside."

And sure enough, I shared my muffin with a remarkably companionable sparrow.

It reminded me of a while back when I was talking rugby with a Samoan.  He reminded me (unnecessarily) that the Samoan rugby team is called Manu Samoa.  "The flying Samoans," I said.  He looked amazed, and then laughed.  "Right on!" he exclaimed.  Now I wonder if my free translation has taken off in Apia.

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