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Book & Print in New Zealand : A Guide to Print Culture in Aotearoa


Captain James Cook's first visit in 1769 to the islands that were to become New Zealand initiated a process of change that is the focus of the first section of this chapter—it was the first time words in Māori had been written down, and subsequently printed and published. The second section also relates to how oral language changes and is transformed into print. Together these sections define the two factors unique to the print culture of Aotearoa New Zealand: Māori language print culture and New Zealand English.

The first section, 'From Māori oral traditions to print', reviews the impact on existing Māori oral culture of the imported print culture—one impact in a period of profound social changes, and one to which Māori responded with enthusiasm. The section covers how the language became codified, the publication of Māori oral traditions, Māori use of writing and print in the 19th century, and an overview of publishing in Māori and by Māori through to the present day.

This approach to the history of Māori-European interaction from a print culture perspective refers to a wide range of publications, and identifies a number of important areas for further investigation and research. Detailed coverage of specific aspects of Māori language print culture (e.g. newspapers, literacy programmes) are covered in the later chapters.

The second section 'New Zealand English' describes the distinctiveness of and changes within our own variety of the English language—as it appears in print, where it responds more slowly to change than spoken New Zealand English. Current lexicographical research is also described, in which a major milestone has been reached in 1997 with the publication of Harry Orsman's long-awaited historical dictionary.