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Have we lost that loving feeling?

Media Release
12 February 2008

Have we lost that loving feeling?

With Valentines Day coming up, the Te Ara encylopedia team have been searching New Zealand’s passionate past for the great love stories to have shaped the nation.

They’ve found that Māori, Indians and paddle crabs have the Valentine spirit, but Pākehā New Zealanders aren’t quite as romantically expressive.

Jock Phillips, General Editor of Te Ara at the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, says Māori have plenty of love stories and Te Ara records several stories from New Zealand’s ethnic groups, including the wedding of a Lebanese couple and four Indian weddings.

“Even the natural world has its epic love stories. The romantic paddle crab will carry a female mate around for days until eventually she moults. Then he mates with her for up to four days, putting even diehard romantics to shame,” he says.

Dr Phillips wonders if Pākehā New Zealanders are too buttoned down by their Anglo-Saxon heritage to get overly romantic.

“After a long search through Te Ara I found a romantic Anglo-Saxon love story about the daughter of the founder of Masterton, Sarah Masters, and a labourer, Henry Bannister. Henry fell in love at first sight with the widowed Sarah and literally fought off a suitor – suffering a broken leg – to win her heart and father 14 children”, says Jock Phillips.

www.Te is alive with New Zealand Valentine’s Day stories.

In Māori tradition, love makes the world go round. The love between Papatuanuku and Ranginui explains the creation of the world itself. The North Island mountains were formed when Tongariro and Taranaki fought for the love of the beautiful mountain maiden Pīhanga. Mauao stands at the entrance to Tauranga Harbour, transfixed by love for the beautiful Pūwhenua.

For Pākehā and Māori alike, Te Arawa’s tale of Hinemoa’s night swim to her lover Tūtānekai on Mokoia Island became the country’s greatest Valentine tale.

Whether inspired by ‘Sarah and Henry’ or the more exotic ‘Hinemoa and Tūtānekai’ stories, Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate New Zealand’s romantic history and perhaps create some more.


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