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Ancient History of the Maori

This corpus provides full searchable online access to the volumes of a major historical treasure described as "one of our most extensive storehouses of Māori custom and tradition" (Andersen, Johannes C. The lure of New Zealand book collecting. Auckland : Whitcombe and Tombs, 1936, p. 77.). The Ancient History of the Maori covers, in Māori with English translation, many aspects of Māori knowledge, history and tradition, including karakia (prayers), Pūrākau (myths), waiata (songs), whakapapa (genealogies) and whakatauki (proverbs).

In 1879 the Government commissioned John White to compile the work, the first six volumes of which were published between 1887 and 1890, followed by a volume of illustrations. Further publication ceased with John White's death in 1891, and the remaining handwritten manuscripts could only be consulted at the Alexander Turnbull Library. There were significant constraints on access to both the published and manuscript materials: the published volumes not widely held by New Zealand libraries; only three libraries held microfilm copies of the manuscripts; and the material was not indexed. Given researchers' frustration, the need for improved access to White's legacy has long been apparent.

In 2001, the University of Waikato Library launched a CD-ROM that contained the entire set of volumes and manuscripts including the illustrations and the whakapapa. In 2007 the University of Waikato gave a copy of digital files to the NZETC to make freely accessible online. All of the volumes, including originally unpublished manuscripts, are accessible below. In addition two volumes of notes are available for download.

The unpublished volumes (7-13) are based on collated manuscript material and so may have non-sequential chapter heading numbering and parts of the narrative may also be missing.