Māori Oral Tradition: He Kōrero nō te Ao Tawhito

Jane McRae

Author: Jane McRae
Format: Paperback, Ebook
Pages: 260
Published: March 2017
Specs: 22.8cm x 15.2cm
ISBN: 9781869408619

Available in Ebook

Explores the remarkable record of the past that is Māori oral tradition through whakapapa (genealogies), whakataukī (sayings), kōrero (narratives and prose) and waiata (songs and chants).

Māori oral tradition is the rich, poetic record of the past handed down by voice over generations through whakapapa, whakataukī, kōrero and waiata. In genealogies and sayings, histories, stories and songs, Māori tell of ‘te ao tawhito’ or the old world: the gods, the migration of the Polynesian ancestors from Hawaiki and life here in Aotearoa.

A voice from the past, today this remarkable record underpins the speeches, songs and prayers performed on marae and the teaching of tribal genealogies and histories. Indeed, the oral tradition underpins Māori culture itself.

This book introduces readers to the distinctive oral style and language of the traditional compositions, acknowledges the skills of the composers of old and explores the meaning of their striking imagery and figurative language. And it shows how ngā kōrero tuku iho – the inherited words – can be a deep well of knowledge about the way of life, wisdom and thinking of the Māori ancestors.


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This is an enriching contribution to popular scholarship and the conclusion makes it clear how many new pathways now lie open for further discovery. - Paul Little, North & South

"There were also ways in which they recorded the oral tradition. Carving is one example. Patterns in artworks. Aspects of the landscape speak to Māori, the names on the landscape, but mostly in the time of an oral society when there is no writing you depend on memory to pass on things that are vital to you, your knowledge and your histories and your philosophies and customs." – Jane McRae