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Nga tatai-whakapapa : dynamics in Māori oral tradition

Author: Rawiri Taonui
Publisher: 2005.
Dissertation: PhD--Māori Studies University of Auckland 2005
Edition/Format:   Thesis/dissertation : Thesis/dissertation : Manuscript   Archival Material : English
Summary:
This thesis questions the accuracy of current understandings about the nature of pre-contact Maori oral tradition. In the main, it finds that this is not the case hence two further questions are asked: why this is so and how can we better understand the traditions? Part One argues that the way we understand the nature of pre-contact Maori oral tradition does not always reflect the way it was for several reasons. The  Read more...
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Details

Genre/Form: Folklore
Genealogy
History
Material Type: Thesis/dissertation, Manuscript, Internet resource
Document Type: Book, Archival Material, Internet Resource
All Authors / Contributors: Rawiri Taonui
OCLC Number: 156777315
Description: xii, 525 pages ; 30 cm
Responsibility: by Rawiri Taonui.

Abstract:

This thesis questions the accuracy of current understandings about the nature of pre-contact Maori oral tradition. In the main, it finds that this is not the case hence two further questions are asked: why this is so and how can we better understand the traditions? Part One argues that the way we understand the nature of pre-contact Maori oral tradition does not always reflect the way it was for several reasons. The transition from orality to literacy and from memory to publication caused some change producing new traditions in a legitimate process whereby oral tradition, like all systems of knowledge, changed and adapted to new circumstances. Other processes stemming from misinterpretation, deliberate invention or poor research were less legitimate. These legitimate and illegitimate changes to oral tradition are problematic when published accounts deliberately or inadvertently present unauthentic new oral traditions as authentic pre-contact oral traditions when patently they are not. The distinction between precontact and post-contact is important because it is an axiom in scholarship, for several reasons, to determine the nature of pre-contact oral tradition. Unauthentic published traditions have regularly become widely accepted and deeply entrenched within academic and Maori communities. When this occurs they constitute 'false orthodoxies'. The problem is more widespread than is generally appreciated. Some well known false orthodoxies persist in belief, having become entrenched over time in one form or other despite some competent deconstructions. Others are yet to be deconstructed. And, contrary to the prevailing and counter-opposed beliefs that European writers were solely responsible for distorting Maori oral tradition or that the traditions are unreliable anyway, both Maori and European researchers, scribes, informants and writers have knowingly and unknowingly contributed to the distortion of oral tradition in complex relationships underwritten by a European monopoly over publication. Many of the false orthodoxies are therefore 'hybrids' born from the interactions between Pakeha and Maori. Part Two: Reconstruction Theory explores theoretical and empirical means by which a more accurate understanding of pre-contact oral tradition might be gained. The first chapter develops a structural model of Maori oral tradition based on the proposition that all oral tradition is characterised by a range of historical and symbolic dynamics extended along a continuum between the present and past. Other chapters explore how existing theoretical approaches can be best applied, how new ones can be developed, and what the pitfalls are. There is also an examination of sources of Maori oral tradition and Maori oral texts. Parts Three and Four apply these principles to analyse tribal and waka traditions.

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