Other formats

    Adobe Portable Document Format file (facsimile images)   TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

Arachne. No. 3

'Nga Moteatea' and Other Collections

'Nga Moteatea' and Other Collections

It has been my fervent hope for many years that the songs, the satires, the prayers of the Maori should be collected, that their authors and origins should be fully investigated and that they should all be fully annotated. The meanings of obscure words should be explained and also allusions to myths, to the old battles, to the catastrophes and sorrows that befell our ancestors. The time when all this should have been done was when the old people who possessed the knowledge were alive, but my time was fully taken up pursuing the knowledge of things Pakeha, and here I am now somewhat belatedly performing this task.

Many of the Maori waiatas have been collected and published in the following books:

page 3
Book Author Year No. of Waiatas
Nga Moteatea George Grey 1853 533
Te Ika a Maui Taylor 8
Traditions & Superstitions Shortland 1856 9
Maori Mementoes Davies 1855 54
Ancient History of the Maori White 1888 110
Maori Songs McGregor 1893 421

Some may be found in Te Waka Maori and in the Journal of the Polynesian Society, the Transactions of the N.Z. Institute, the Dominion Museum Bulletins, and in the publications of S. Percy Smith, Elsdon Best and T. W. Downes.

Many waiatas are contained in unpublished manuscripts held by numerous collectors. While I was gathering the waiatas published here I had occasion to look through those collected by S. Locke, W. L. Williams, Elson Best and Tiwana Turi. Some again were sent to the Polynesian Society by Whatahoro and T. W. Downes. I collected some of the waiatas myself in the Ngatiporou district. More recently Ngakura Pene Haare, of the Ngapuhi tribe, Taite te Tomo, of Ngati Tuwharetoa (who is also of Raukawa descent), and the Hon. William Rikihana, M.L.C., either sent me waiatas or explained allusions in many songs collected by myself.

Some of these songs are contained in five or six different publications, each time in a different version. This came about through the popularity of such songs; when different tribes sang them additions or deletions were made. The same happened when they were copied, especially when the copyists were Pakehas not quite conversant with Maori. Mistakes were made and we who came after may never be able to rectify them.

The only possible way is to go to the tribe where the waiatas originated and study the words sung there; perhaps also the explanations are contained in the tribal traditions. For this reason these waiatas were published in the supplements to Toa Takitini and such explanations as I could give were added so that people might see and send in their versions or criticisms of my annotations.