It’s cool to kōrero — May

May 30, 2023

I tae mai te hukarere, a kua kati te huarahi. — The road is closed because of snow.


HAERE MAI, and welcome to the kōrero column for Haratua/Mei (May). Winter is closing in, and in Aotearoa, that can bring waves of polar air from te Pou Tonga (the South Pole).


Hukarere (snow) falls on the many mountain ranges, and, in more extreme cases, down to the coast. Snowfalls will periodically close the high-altitude roads, like SH1’s Desert Road, before the snow ploughs can get through.

Ngāi Tahu people traditionally believed snow was the child of the god Whēkoi, and when it snowed, would say: “Kai te rere te tama a Whēkoi’.  (The son of Whēkoi is falling). Others saw ice and snow as the children, or fish, of Whaitiri, the goddess of thunder.

Kupu hou (new word)
  • Hukarere  (snow) — pronounced who-kah-rre (as in ‘red’) –rre (as in ‘red’).
  • I tae mai te hukarere, a kua kati te huarahi.  — The road is closed because of snow.

More words related to snow:


  • huka — snow, frost, hail, foam, froth
  • huka kairākau — blizzard
  • tarahī huka — light snow that melts as it lands
  • hukapapa — ice or frost
  • huka-ā-whatu — hail (stone-like snow)
  • koero — thawing/melting of frost and snow
  • haumata — snow grass/ red tussock, found from the central plateau southward.
  • Tāwhiri-mātea — god of wind, clouds, rain, snow, storms

E mihi ana ki a Titihuia Pakeho rāua ko Mairi Lucas.


  1. Te Aka Māori Dictionary. 
  2. Basil Keane, Tāwhirimātea – the weather, Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand.
PHOTO: Adobe Stock
Snow gets the better of vehicles on a Southland road during a winter storm. PHOTO:
Snow on the Lindis Pass, 2015. PHOTO: Adobe Stock
Snow closes in on the Desert Road, 2017. PHOTO: NZTA