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Taonga of Maori Poetry, Music and Culture Restored

9 July 2004

Taonga of Maori Poetry, Music and Culture Restored

A taonga of Maori poetry music and culture was restored to the community at the Waipapa Marae, University of Auckland, on Wednesday night, 7 July 2004.

Nga Moteatea: The Songs – Part One, originally collected and translated by Apirana Ngata and Pei Te Hurinui Jones, was launched at the marae in the presence of representatives of the Ngata and Jones families.

The launch was the first step in producing a new edition of this national treasure, the largest and most comprehensive collection of Maori waiata and a unique contribution to New Zealand poetry, enhanced for the first time by audio CDs of its waiata.

An exciting and generous collaboration between scholars, the Polynesian Society, The University of, Creative New Zealand, the Lilburn Trust and experts from the music studios Atoll Ltd has made this project possible.

Nga Moteatea is a rich resource for continuing research and scholarship in many fields, offers prime texts in the teaching of Maori language, literature and tribal history and serves as inspiration for contemporary composition and performance.

Over a period of 40 year Sir Apirana Ngata, distinguished leader and scholar, collected and recorded hundreds of songs and chants from the iwi of Aotearoa, which became the four volumes of Nga Moteatea, with translations and annotations by Ngata and Pei te Hurinui Jones.

Auckland University Press is delighted to publish this completely redesigned and reset edition, commissioned by the Polynesian Society with substantial support from Creative New Zealand. The series will be published at the rate of one volume per year from 2004 until 2007.

It has been edited, on behalf of the Polynesian Society, by Jenifer Curnow and Dr Jane McRae, with the advice of Commissioning Editor Professor Margaret Mutu (HOD Maori Studies, University of Auckland).

The editors have been at pains to preserve the integrity of Ngata’s and Jones’s text and their commentary. Long vowels in Maori have been macronised and changes have been made to conform to current usage with correction of errors in grammar, spelling and punctuation. Typography has been modernised.

The CDs of the waiata were drawn from the Archive of Maori and Pacific Music at the University of Auckland. Production of the CDs was undertaken by Atoll Ltd and has been supported by the Lilburn Trust.

About the Editors Sir Apirana Ngata, Ngati Porou, 1874–1950, was the leading Maori figure of his day, a land reformer, politician and scholar. He made a vital contribution to the revival of the Maori people and culture in the early years of the twentieth century and is the subject of a recent biography by Ranginui Walker. His Dictionary of New Zealand Biography entry is available online at

Pei Te Hurinui Jones, Ngati Maniapoto, 1898–1976, was an outstanding scholar who was completely bilingual. He published extensively in both English and Maori, translating Shakespeare’s plays and compiling the Tainui traditions published in Nga Iwi o Tainui (AUP; reprinting August 2004). His Dictionary of New Zealand Biography entry is available online at

Jenifer Curnow is a librarian and indexer who has worked in the Archive of Maori and Pacific Music at The University of Auckland. She is currently a researcher in the Maori Studies Department of The University of Auckland. She edited, with Jane McRae and Ngapare Hopa, Rere Atu Taku Manu! Discovering History, Language and Politics in the Maori-Language Newspapers 1842–1933 (AUP; 2002) and has published many articles on Maori related topics, including two on Wiremu Maihi Te Rangikaheke for the Journal of the Polynesian Society. She wrote several entries on Maori notables for the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography and has published bibliographies of Maori tribal material.

Dr Jane McRae is a lecturer in the Maori Studies, The University of Auckland. She edited, with Jenifer Curnow and Ngapare Hopa, Rere Atu Taku Manu! Discovering History, Language and Politics in the Maori-Language Newspapers 1842–1933 (AUP; 2002) and has also published a number of research projects on Maori literature, language and history commissioned by the New Zealand Department of Maori Affairs and the Maori Land Court. Her main research interest is Maori oral literature and she is an expert on Maori oral narratives and contact between oral and literate cultures.


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