March 09, 2017
Book taps Maori oral history
A rich stream of Maori literature has been revealed in a new book on Maori oral traditions.
Former Auckland University Maori studies lecturer Jane McRae says the writing of He korero no te ao tawhito.was sparked by a project she did under Professor Anne Salmond that involved a lot of reading of 19th century Maori manuscripts.
She learned to spot the documents where people were writing down for the first time the words passed down by their tupuna.
It was a time when writing became another form of remembering.
"There were also ways in which they recorded the oral tradition. Carving is one example. Patterns in artworks. Aspects of the landscape speak to Maori, the names on the landscape, but mostly in the time of an oral society when there is no writing you depend on memory to pass on things that are vital to you, your knowledge and your histories and your philosophies and customs,," Ms McRae says.
Maori Oral Tradition, He korero no te ao tawhito is published by Auckland University Press.
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