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Mana or manna, Aussies have got it: PM

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 29/05/2017 Karen Sweeney
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Every Australian minister Prime Minister Bill English has met has mana. Or it could be manna.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull tried to popularise the te reo Maori word across the Tasman on Monday, using the word to describe Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt at an unveiling of his portrait.

"Ken has, the New Zealanders would call - it's a Maori word, it's almost untranslatable - they would call it 'mana'," he said.

"Ken has a presence, a life-force, a calm, an aura."

When asked about whether he had been giving his Australian counter-part some te reo lessons, Mr English said he understood the word came from the Bible.

"It's actually a word that I thought was used pretty widely internationally, partly because of its biblical derivations but every Australian minister I've met has mana," he said.

While "mana" in Maori means prestige, influence or status, "manna" in the Bible or Koran instead refers to the edible substance provided by God to the Israelites crossing the desert.

"One's from heaven and one's from New Zealand," Mr English said when questioned about the differences in spelling and meaning, prompting further pondering about whether he was was comparing New Zealand to heaven, or to hell.

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