May 24, 2017
Matamua challenges Best book on Matariki
The author of a book on Maori astronomy says he has tried to decolonise the knowledge around the topic.
Rangi Matamua's Matariki – The Star of the Year was launched today at the University of Waikato.
Its genesis was a 400 page manuscript written early last century by Dr Matamua's tupuna Te Kokau Himiona Te Pikikotuku and Rawiri Te Kokau of Ruatahuna, who were among the informants for ethnologist Elsdon Best's publication Astronomical Knowledge of the Maori.
Since inheriting the manuscript 20 years ago, the University of Waikato associate professor has researched the records of other iwi as well as scouring the English record.
He says many of the non-Maori accounts leap to conclusions without evidence.
"For example I doubt that Matariki means little eyes. I think that's an Elsdon Best translation. It has no other explanation in our culture, whereas Te Kokau says it is a truncated version of Nga Mata o te Ariki Tawahirimatea and gives a whole narrative of how it gets its name," Dr Matamua says.
Matariki – The Star of the Year is the first in a series of books he will produced on Maori astronomy for Huia Publishers.
The book launch takes place at 6pm at the University of Waikato 22 May 2017. Books retail at $35.00 and will be available at the launch and also available this week at all good bookstores and on the HUIA Publishers website – www.huia.co.nz
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