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Te Ko Parapara: An Introduction to the Maori World


The editors of this book have produced a fresh introduction to Maori perspectives as they review the history and present day society of Maori Culture. They approach their subjects from a Maori cultural perspective emphasising indigenous attitudes and beliefs.


The work is likened to the clear morning song of the bellbird (kõparapara) - having a fresh and vibrant approach. It is a modern, forward looking collection.

This is a timely read for new readers looking for answers to their queries about Maori customs, and indigenous history. Twenty-one illustrated chapters outline tikanga (the correct way to do things) and touch on Maori history, education, politics and social identity in today’s world. The chapters form a collective of modern viewpoints from an indigenous viewpoint.


Themes are accessible; maps and diagrams are included as well as waiata and relevant proverbs. Everyday social organisation of culture, with their unique characteristics is outlined. Clear explanation is given of Mana, Tapu, Noa and Mauri with their relevance to the foundations of wellbeing to the community and the environment. The correct procedures through Maori cultural practices are outlined.

Interesting and frank discussions are made regarding “full and final” treaty settlements over confiscation of land. The debate continues.


As many Maori are isolated from their ancestral marae through the pressure of modern day living, the authors show concern for the change in Maori family structures. The value of the language is emphasised. It is pleasing to note the increased numbers learning Te Reo, in the wider community. This book supports the language learner’s as it would enable a greater depth of understanding of the culture.

Maori Identity is traced through whakapapa (genealogy) but the extended links to whanau (family) are stretched as people leave the marae behind. Today’s Pã Kãinga / Marae cannot be sustained without support of descendants of each iwi (tribe) who are scattered throughout the world in modern times. The elders on the marae need youth engagement and support to enable cultural knowledge to be passed on to their community. Maori Identity is not enough on its own. Maori who care are seeking new opportunities to rekindle ties to their marae.


Elders remember their ancestor’s arrival and settlement in special stories and through tradition. Audiences are vital– to share the knowledge through this narration, chants or waiata- from generation to generation.


The glossary, notes and index are most helpful in this fresh approach to Maori studies. The editors research and teach at the School of Maori and Pacific Indigenous Studies (Te Tumu) at the University of Otago. Most live in Dunedin (õtepoti).

I enjoyed the fresh approach presented, especially the positive outlook from most chapters.


Reviewer: Sonia Edwards

Editors: Michael Reilly, Suzanne Duncan, Gianna Leoni, Lachy Paterson, Lyn Carter, Matiu Rãtima and Poia Rewi.

Auckland University Press, RRP 69.99


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