Na­tive guide

A new col­lec­tion isn’t just an in­sight into Te Ao Māori, it’s an im­por­tant study of cul­tural re­silience.

New Zealand Listener - - BOOKS & CULTURE - By ANN BEAGLEHOLE

How do cul­tures sur­vive? Some strug­gle and never prop­erly re­cover. How have Māori sur­vived wars, coloni­sa­tion, pop­u­la­tion de­cline, land loss, loss of mana, the on­slaught of Euro­pean dis­eases and the un­der­min­ing of their be­liefs and values? The au­thors of Te Kō­para­para show the re­silience of Māori cul­ture from waka migration to the present day. But, as Rewi Ma­niapoto and later Rang­inui Walker (quoted in the book) put it, Ka whawhai tonu mā­tou (strug­gle with­out end).

Te Kō­para­para, writ­ten from an indige­nous per­spec­tive, in­tro­duces Māori history, cul­ture and so­ci­ety to stu­dents and gen­eral read­ers. It draws on south­ern Māori knowl­edge and lan­guage, com­ple­ment­ing the of­ten bet­ter-known sto­ries and schol­ar­ship about northern Māori. The edi­tors, who re­search and teach at Te Tumu, the School of Māori, Pa­cific and Indige­nous Stud­ies at the Uni­ver­sity of Otago, chose te kō­para­para – the lo­cal ver­sion of the bell­bird’s name – for the ti­tle to ac­knowl­edge the peo­ple who live in south­ern Te Wai­pounamu (the South Is­land) un­der the mana of Kāi Tahu, also called Ngāi Tahu.

The book is or­gan­ised into three sec­tions to con­sider “the past, present and pos­si­ble fu­ture of Māori so­ci­ety”. The first in­tro­duces read­ers to the tra­di­tions, prin­ci­ples, in­sti­tu­tions and prac­tices of the Māori world and to piv­otal con­cepts un­der­ly­ing tikanga Māori, such as the value placed on col­lec­tive in­ter­ests and on cus­to­di­an­ship and guardian­ship of the

en­vi­ron­ment and peo­ple.

The sec­ond fo­cuses on “how Māori con­fronted, re­sisted and ad­justed” to changes af­ter the ar­rival of Pākehā ex­plor­ers, seal­ers, whalers, traders, mis­sion­ar­ies and im­mi­grants. There are use­ful his­to­ries on com­plex mat­ters, such as the mean­ing of the 1835 Dec­la­ra­tion of In­de­pen­dence, and on whether Māori who signed the Treaty of Wai­tangi gave up their sovereignty to Bri­tain. The Kin­gi­tanga, re­li­gious re­sis­tance move­ments such as Pai Mārire/ Hauhau and the Māori ur­ban migration are among other top­ics.

The third sec­tion, “Fu­tures”, has es­says on health and the Māori world view, ed­u­ca­tion, te reo Māori and on what it means to be Māori to­day.

One of the book’s strengths is its de­pic­tion of the di­ver­sity of the Māori world and of the var­i­ous choices Māori have made. Māori knowl­edge and tikanga are shown as evolv­ing, not set in con­crete. It draws on both oral tra­di­tion and ar­chae­o­log­i­cal ev­i­dence, en­sur­ing a nu­anced rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the past. There is a note of warn­ing about the fu­ture. While the whaka­papa and his­tor­i­cal nar­ra­tives en­dure as a con­nec­tion from past to present, the chal­lenge is “to hold on to those tra­di­tions”.

Te Kō­para­para is an im­por­tant ad­di­tion to ex­ist­ing lit­er­a­ture on Aotearoa and de­serves wide read­er­ship. TE KŌ­PARA­PARA: An In­tro­duc­tion to the Māori World, edited by Michael Reilly, Suzanne Dun­can, Gianna Leoni, Lachy Pater­son, Lyn Carter, Matiu Rā­tima and Poia Rewi (Auck­land Uni­ver­sity Press,

2018, $69.99)

The prophet Te Whiti ad­dressesa hui be­fore his ar­rest in 1881.

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