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An Introduction to Polynesian Anthropology

Other Writers

Other Writers

As settlement increased, more people of better education came into contact with the native populations. Native servants, nurses, wives, and workmen, all supplied information about themselves and their people. Trade and land trans-page 31actions with neighboring tribes and chiefs opened up wider fields of interest to the intelligent. Much native lore was acquired. Though it may have been passed on to others orally, there were few who had the material, time, patience, and ability to write manuscripts for publication as books. Many old residents were quite capable of writing articles on specific subjects, but the medium for printing them was lacking. However, books were written and published, some by transient visitors whose confidence in their own views was not inhibited by the doubts which assail those of longer residence. Comparatively late, such a journalistic medium was provided in New Zealand by the formation of the Polynesian Society. Its journal offered an outlet for short articles, and members of the society were able to induce people to contribute articles. In this way, much material which would never have otherwise come to light was placed on permanent record.

Some men, such as Percy Smith, Elsdon Best, and Edward Tregear, wrote not only from interest, but from a deep sense of duty to preserve a record of native culture. There were no fellowships to defray field expenses in their day, and they gave freely of their own time and money. The amateur anthropologists were amateurs in the sense that they were not paid professionals. What they might have gained from a university school of anthropology was more than made up for by an intense study of the available literature and by years of contact with the people they interpreted.