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

Māori newspapers

Māori newspapers

Many newspapers published in the second half of the 19th century used Māori language, though not all were published by Māori. The earliest titles were those published by the government or its spokesmen. Te Karere o Niu Tireni (in various titles, 1842-63) contained government announcements and correspondence, Te Pihoihoi Mokemoke i runga i te tuanui (1863) was established to counter Te Hokioi (see below), and Te Waka Maori (1863-79 and 1884) was under government control after its first few years. Newspapers produced wholly by Māori begin with Te Hokioi o Niu-Tireni, e rere atu na (1862-63) under the auspices of the Māori King Pōtatau, and range from

Te Paki o Matariki (1892- ) produced for King Tāwhiao, to Te Wananga (1874-78) and Te Puke ki Hikurangi (1897-1913). These newspapers illustrate the high degree of Māori confidence in printing their own language and are invaluable historical and cultural taonga. Periodicals in Māori which used a newspaper format also included several of a religious motivation: The Anglo-Maori Warder (1848), Te Whetu o te Tau (1858), Te Haeata (1859-62) sponsored by the Methodist Church, Te Korimako (1882-88), and Te Hoa Maori (1885-97), published by the Plymouth Brethren, are examples. Most of these newspapers in Māori took a particular stance on political or religious issues, but they all frequently also contain reports of hui, obituaries, waiata, advertisements, local news, correspondence and so on, which are all valuable sources of historical information.

Periodicals in Māori which can be defined as newspapers declined in numbers from the early 20th century. Although there were several Māori magazines, it was not until the 1980s that Tu Tangata subtitled itself Maori News Magazine. Māori newspapers began to flourish again from the 1980s. Some are listed in a 1986 Tu Tangata article, for example Te Iwi o Aotearoa, Maori Kuii-ee! (from Sydney), and in the 1990s Kia Hiwa Ra (Te Kūiti).

Brief overviews of the early Māori newspapers are included in articles by Sheila Williams and by Nicola Frean in the 1990 issue of the Turnbull Library Record.

Publications about Māori newspapers have so far concentrated on extracts from them. Huia Publishers has produced three volumes in Māori only, Te Pakiwaitara, Te Puni Wahine, and Te Mareikura. Letters to newspapers are included in the writings of Sir Apirana Ngata, and of Rēweti Kōhere, edited by Wiremu and Te Ohorere Kaa. Individual stories in Māori newspapers have been the focus of Margaret Orbell's articles in History Now.

Study of Māori newspapers has been hampered in the past by the location of scarce copies in research libraries. In an attempt to improve accessibility the Alexander Turnbull Library, in cooperation with other libraries which held copies, first produced microfilm copies through the National Library, then in 1996 produced microfiche copies, aiming to allow study through any library or institution with a microfiche reader. The complete set of Niupepa 1842-1933 has been purchased by a few major libraries, and digitisation of the papers is currently under discussion. However, the microfiche edition includes only those titles which began publication before 1900. Some later titles are available on microfilm from the National Library of New Zealand.

Avenues for further study of Māori newspapers are many. Bibliographic coverage is patchy so far. Ross Harvey's 1987 Union List of Newspapers gives place of publication, frequency, date ranges, title changes and holdings information for most early titles. Cataloguing of the early titles for the New Zealand National Bibliography in 1989, in preparation for microfilming, means a form of bibliography can be produced through the New Zealand Bibliographic Network. A 12-page booklet issued with the 1996 microfiche gives title, place of publication, language(s) used, frequency, alternate titles and continuations, inclusive dates, and number of microfiche, for the titles which were microfilmed. An Early Māori Imprint project is currently in progress in the Alexander Turnbull Library and will include many of the titles above, but only a small part of its overall coverage will be periodicals, and those only from the 19th century. Bibliographic coverage as planned will therefore remain patchy; in addition, studies interpreting the content of Māori newspapers will require further information about their context, ownership, and readership.

There is therefore an urgent need for a distinct and detailed bibliography of Māori newspapers including, for example, changes in size and pagination, title changes, supplements issued, editors, printers and publishers, addresses, and language, and summary of contents. Twentieth-century newspapers in particular need study, as they are excluded both from the microfiche available, and from the Early Māori Imprint project. Studies of individual newspapers are also needed, and hopefully they will be written by Māori with access to iwi support and resources. Comparative studies of, for example, production, readership, iwi linguistic variations, and the way Māori owners and publishers used Pākehā printers, will not be possible until sufficient individual studies have been produced.

Newspaper content is a rich source of historical material (used by Judith Binney and Anne Salmond among others) and more writers confident in using sources in 19th-century Māori are needed. Indexing of the newspapers would help enormously. Māori newspapers are also a rich source for linguistic studies. Elaine Geering's analysis (1993) of words 'loaned' from Māori to English from the 1860s to 1900, drawing on articles in the Weekly News and Auckland Weekly News, is an example of this from an English language viewpoint. In contemporary times, an interesting comparison of print and oral cultures could be made between the growth of Māori radio stations such as Te Upoko o te Ika and Te Reo Irirangi o Te Arawa, and modern Māori newspapers.