He Manu Karere | The Early Māori Newspapers

Masthead of Te Puke ki Hikurangi.
From teara.govt.nz

What do you get when you cross Gutenberg’s printing press with the communal, oral storytelling of Māori tradition? When New Zealand’s first printing press arrived at Waitangi in the 1830s, the answer soon became clear: you got a print revolution.

The first book produced in New Zealand followed soon after this, an edition of Biblical epistles produced by CMS missionaries in the Bay of Islands. Many publications of various kinds followed, and by 1842 the first newspaper (niupepa) in Māori, Ko Te Karere o Nui Tireni, produced by the government, was already in production. Estimates of Māori literacy in the middle of the 1800s varied, but it is fairly certain that in many areas, rates of those able to read and write in their own language were at least as good as of the English population. The Niupepa found a ready-made readership and, and plenty of demand for news of events and other articles.

te karere
The masthead of Ko Te Karere o Nui Tirene.
From nzdl.org

Te Karere was quickly followed by around 34 more Māori newspaper publications in Te Reo, many publishing at the same time in the 1850s. Around 70% of content was published in Te Reo Māori only, 27% bilingually, and 3% in English only. Some papers were published by government, particularly through what was then the Department of Native Affairs, some by churches, particularly Anglicans and Wesleyans, and some by Māori movements including the Kingitanga and Kotahitanga. The different sponsors of the newspapers greatly influenced the content they published, which could range from collections of pēpeha, Māori proverbs, to government exhortations for allegiance to the crown. Inevitably, worsening frictions between iwi and settler government were reflected in the newspapers, and some operated in direct opposition.

The most notable government paper Te Pihoihoi Mokemoke and its Kingitanga counterpart, Te Hokioi, both of which sought to win the minds of people nationwide to their position at the height of the Waikato War. The competition escalated to the point where a group of Kingitanga warriors went to the press of Te Pihoihoi in Te Awamutu, took the entire printing press, and removed it from its printing works, effectively putting a stop to the war of words.

Many niupepa were highly nuanced, and drew on traditional metaphor to communicate their purposes. The imagery of a newspaper as a bird, bringing information to readers just as migratory birds brought their first birdsongs to signify summer and renewal, was very popular. Many niupepa expanded the metaphor, drawing parallels between subscriptions and “food for the bird”, sad news of accidents and deaths as mournful birdsong, and wrote of “our bird” frequently. A bird can be seen in several intricate masthead images, as in the image from Te Pipiwharauroa – a shining cuckoo soaring down over a peaceful home and a family sitting reading.

The masthead of Te Pipiwharauroa.
From nzdl.org

As well as news from both Aotearoa and internationally, the niupepa often published stories, anecdotes of daily life, and translated English or foreign texts including poetry by Robert Brown and William Cowper, and excerpts from Shakespearean plays. Te Pipiwharauroa also published translations of, for example, Hawaiian songs, with Māori translation by the editors.

A song translated from Hawaiian to Māori, featured in a copy of Te Pipiwharauroa in 1924.
From nzdl.org

Māori newspapers peaked in number in the 1850s, and declined to just three by the beginning of 1900. None of the niupepa from this period are still in production, having been replaced from the 1970s with other forms of media. However, many have been preserved in libraries and archives, and are available to study today as a fascinating insight into Māori history and society during this time.

Wellington City Libraries holds microfiche reproductions of many niupepa, available for viewing on the second floor of Central Library. We also hold several books about Māori newspapers, printing, and literacy.


Further Reading:

Syndetics book coverColonial discourses : niupepa Māori, 1855-1863 / Lachy Paterson.
“Paterson examines nine Maori-language newspapers in New Zealand over an eight-year span, starting with the revitalization of the government newspaper, Te Karere Maori, and ending with its demise. Examining the material, social, cultural, and political content, Paterson finds that the Maori-language newspapers were used for propaganda purposes and that those run by European settlers, while possessing different agenda, effectively spoke with one voice regarding religious, social and political issues. He also argues that the newspapers informed and influenced Maori readers but at the same time provided a platform for the Maori to voice their opinions and debate issues of the time with the European settlers…” (adapted from the Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRere atu, taku manu : discovering history, language and politics in the Māori language newspapers / edited by Jenifer Curnow, Ngapare Hopa and Jane McRae.
“Collection of articles by scholars of Maori language who have researched Maori language newspapers from the 1840s into the twentieth century. The book uncovers Maori opinions on such matters as Maori representation in Parliament, the philanthropic and religious messages between Pakeha and Maori and Maori oratory and skilful use of the language.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBook & print in New Zealand : a guide to print culture in Aotearoa / edited by Penny Griffith, Ross Harvey, Keith Maslen, with the assistance of Ross Somerville.
“A guide to print culture in Aotearoa, the impact of the book and other forms of print on New Zealand. This collection of essays by many contributors looks at the effect of print on Maori and their oral traditions, printing, publishing, bookselling, libraries, buying and collecting, readers and reading, awards, and the print culture of many other language groups in New Zealand.” (Syndetics summary)


McRae, Jane, ‘Māori newspapers and magazines – ngā niupepa me ngā moheni’, Te Ara – The Encyclopedia of New Zealand, updated 22 Jul 2014.
URL: http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/maori-newspapers-and-magazines-nga-niupepa-me-nga-moheni
Licensed by Manatū Taonga for re-use under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 New Zealand Licence.

New Zealand Digital Library (University of Waikato): nzdl.org: Niupepa Māori online database of Māori newspapers.

Rauemi: Te Reo kei runga Pukamata/Te Reo on Facebook

We here at Te Matapihi ki te Ao Nui obviously love our pukapuka, and when you’re learning Te Reo, maybe for the first time, there’s no shortage of very helpful, carefully laid-out books that will take you through your kupu hou (new words), rerenga kōrero (phrases) and whakahua (pronunciation). We have a tidy collection of Reo textbooks and courses that you can look through here and here in our catalogue to get you started.

But to get really proficient in Te Reo or any language, there’s nothing like trying out your skills in te ao hurihuri – the real world! And in today’s world – March 2014 – a lot of our real-world kōrerorero happens online on te ipurangi, the wonderful world wide web. Forums where kaikōrero can talk together or see others use their reo in a relaxed way are easy places to get used to using reo, and that includes social media like Twitter and Facebook.

On Pukamata (Facebook) there are a couple of whārangi whakahirahira that aim to both provide a venue for using reo socially, and help kaikōrero build up their skills. The first of these, Normalising Te Reo Maori on Social Media, is just over a week old, but already has over 3000 members and they are sooo active. Almost daily the administrator posts a new kīwaha (saying) or aspect of Te Reo Māori idiom or grammar at a set level of difficulty, and often puts out a wero (challenge) to her readers to use the phrase themselves over the coming days – often working Pukamata or other technology into the challenge, such as asking learners to tag a friend with a cheeky kīwaha.

Whakatauki is a more in-depth, less community-oriented page (where Normalising Te Reo is a group, Whakatauki is a private page) that posts clear, detailed explanations and translations of idiom, songs and word origins. The page links to Youtube videos, posts video explanations of idiom, and writes about the explanations too below his videos or in separate posts.

“Liking” either wharangi will cause the posts and updates to appear in your Facebook feed, and they’re both a great way to fit a little practice and a little extra reo use into your day. Kia whaia te iti kahurangi – pursue that which is precious… even if in small amounts and squeezed into your Facebook feed! And, as always, if you need help finding more resources, the kaitiaki at te wharepukapuka are happy to point you at more taonga and learning material. Kia maia!

Māori words used in this post:

Te Matapihi ki te Ao Nui – Wellington City Libraries
pukapuka – book(s)
Te Reo (Māori language)
kupu hou – new words
rerenga kōrero – sentences
whakahua – pronunciation
te ao hurihuri – the world of today
kōrerorero – conversation
te ipurangi – the internet
kaikōrero – speakers
Pukamata – Facebook
wharangi whakahirahira – great pages
kiwaha – saying
wero – challenge
wharangi – page
Kia whaia te iti kahurangi – pursue that which is precious
kaitiaki – staff
whare pukapuka – library
taonga – treasures
Kia mia – be brave

Rauemi: Ko wai tō ingoa? / What’s your name?

Tēnā koutou! Nau mai, welcome to the first Rauemi blog post. This blog series looks at different resources, highlighting new, useful or unusual sources of Māori information.

A lot of people ask us at the wharepukapuka for help researching their family tree or their whakapapa. We have many nifty resources at the library; some stowed away at our information desks, some on the public shelves, and some available through our website. Here are just three rauemi (resources) that might help you in looking up names for your whakapapa – whether for places, people or objects.

An amazing rauemi available online is the Fletcher index of Māori names. This can be found through our Māori website Rauemi page, under the “History” header. The Fletcher Index is “from an unpublished manuscript compiled about 1925 by the missionary Rev. Henry James Fletcher (1868-1933). In its original form it was 987 pages long, a vast index of Māori names referred to in books and journals, including the names of boundaries, Māori individuals, canoes, trees, landmarks and geographical locations. It was Fletcher’s greatest piece of work, and one that merited improved access.” (from website). It has searchable, browsable access to a wide range of pre- and post-Pākehā names of people, places, and more, and provides the details of where those names are found in other sources. This makes it an excellent resource for finding a name’s provenance, or discovering new contexts and information about a name or place previously unknown.

A second rauemi available on the internet is this page of Pakeha (European) / Māori Transliterations. A common raru (problem) in trying to research whakapapa is that, particularly in older records, people could be known, recorded, and written about by more than one version of their name. This is where the Transileration page comes in. This page lists an amazing variety of Māori names with their reo Ingarihi (English) transliterations, and also English names and their Māori transliterations, and is searchable both ways. It also includes a huge number of Māori transliterations of Biblical names, which were very popular in early colonial times. For example, the Pākehā missionary William Colenso was known as “Colenso”, “Koroneho”, “Koreneho”, “Te Koreneho” and “Te Koroneho” formally, and “Neho” colloquially. Searching for just one of these names might bring up only a fraction of the material available for this person under his other names, and without knowing the transliteration, you might never find that data. Now, due to the handy magic of transliteration lists, your searching might become a little broader, and a little easier.

And finally, one from our shelves. If you’re looking for more information on Māori names for places, look no further than A. W. Reed’s dictionary of the same, Illustrated Māori Place Names, for a comprehensive etymology of places around Aotearoa.

Syndetics book coverIllustrated Maori place names / A.W. Reed

What’s in a name? It really all depends on the name – and I hope these rauemi might help you discover more about the names that mean something to your whakapapa or research.