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Māori Literature
a guide to resources 

6.1 Introduction
6.2 How to find books on Māori literature
Searching Library Search
Searching by Iwi or Region
Key books on Māori literature
6.3 Finding journal articles
Journal of the Polynesian Society (JPS) & Transactions and proceedings of the New Zealand Institute (TNZI)
6.4 Bibliographies & Inventories  
6.5 Finding contemporary literature written in English
6.6 Anthologies
6.7 Specialised Indexes
6.8 Manuscript material
6.9 Archive of Māori and Pacific Music
6.10 Key to Library Locations

6.1  Introduction Top of page 

This guide is designed to help the researcher new to the study of Māori literature by indicating some of the major sources in the University of Auckland Library. The main focus is on traditional material but there are also a few notes on contemporary Māori writing in English

6.2  How to Find Books on Māori Literature Top of page

Searching Library SearchTop of page
Many of the books held in the University of Auckland Library can be found using Library Search, the on-line catalogue. Some frequently used subject headings are (you don't need to use capitals or macrons in your searches):

Māori language 

Māori literature bibliography 

Māori literature history and criticism 

Māori poetry 




proverbs Māori 

songs Māori 



Māori new zealand people legends 

mythology Māori 

Māori new zealand people folklore 

Searching by iwi or region Top of page
Many books have subject headings for iwi in the form

ngati porou maori people
ngati whatua maori people
ngapuhi maori people

For a complete list of iwi as subject headings enter the search

maori new zealand people

Look at the first screens under this heading (note you don't need capitals or macrons)
. Some works relating to regions and iwi are only indexed under subject headings in the following form

maori new zealand people new zealand auckland

maori new zealand people new zealand taranaki etc

Key Books on Māori Literature Top of page
General survey and bibliographical essay  
McRae, Jane. ?Māori literature: a survey? in Terry Sturm (ed.). The Oxford history of New Zealand literature in English. 1991, pp.1-24. [MM and NZ & P and NZGC 820.9 O98n]

The books listed below are some of the most important sources:    
Alpers, Antony. Māori myths and tribal legends. 1964.
[MM and NZ & P 398.2 A45; ]

Gardiner, Wira. Haka : a living tradition. 2001. [MM 793.31 G22]

Grey, George. Mythology and traditions of the New Zealanders = Ko nga mahinga a nga tupuna. 1854 [MM and NZ Glass Case 299.95 G84; ] This standard work has been republished many times since in English and Māori. Other titles include: Nga mahi a nga tupuna and Polynesian mythology. In English and Māori.

Kapiti, Pita. Nga korero a Pita Kapiti. 1997 [MM 398.2 K17 ] 19th century

Karetu, T. S. Haka : te tohu o te whenua rangatira = the dance of a noble people. 1993.
[MM 784.76995 K18; ]

McLean, Mervyn. Māori music. 1996 [MM 780.995 M16ma ]
History of waiata from traditional times to the 20th century.

McLean, Mervyn. Traditional songs of the Māori. 1979
[MM and NZ & P 784.76995 M16; ]
Written in collaboration with Margaret Orbell. 50 waiata with music, lyrics and explanatory material. A general introduction includes notes on types of waiata and language. Indexes first lines,and song types. Bibliography.

Ngata, Apirana. Nga moteatea. [Vols.1-4]. 1985-1990
[MM and NZ & P 899 N57; ;Also in NZ Glass Case]
393 waiata from all over New Zealand. Collected by Sir Apirana Ngata and originally published from 1928. English translations with copious notes and explanations in the later editions.

Orbell, Margaret. The illustrated encyclopedia of Māori myth and legend. 1995.
[MM and NZ & P 398.2 O64] A comprehensive coverage of the field. Brief accounts of most of the well-known stories and entries for natural phenomena, animals etc. Notes on sources and an index.

Orbell, Margaret. Waiata :Māori songs in history : an anthology. 1991. 
[MM 784.76995 W13ma; ]

Ruatapu, Mohi. Nga korero a Mohi Ruatapu : tohunga rongonui o Ngati Porou = The writings of Mohi Ruatapu. 1993. [MM & NZP 398.20995 F89; ] Originally written down in two exercise books in the late 19th century. Contains whakapapa and stories of tipuna and atua. In Māori and English.

Shortland, Edward. Māori religion and mythology. 1882
[MM and NZ & P and NZ Glass Case 299.95 S55; ] Includes chapters on cosmogony.

Smith, S.Percy. The lore of the whare wānanga. 1913-1915
[MM and NZ & P and NZ Glass Case 572.995 S66; ] Based mainly on material written down by Te Whatahoro Jury at a whare wānanga held at Papawai in the Wairarapa in the 1860s. In Māori and English. Includes creation myths and legends and also an account of proceedings at a traditional whare wānanga.

Te Rangikaheke, Wiremu Maihi. The story of Maui. 1975
[MM 398.20996 T25; ] Edited with a translation and commentary by Agathe Thornton. (Thornton?s main studies have been in classical European myth and legend and she brings perspectives from this field to her study of Māori mythology.)

Tikao, Teone Taare. Tikao talks : ka taoka tapu o te ao kohatu : treasures from the ancient world of the Māori. 1990 [MM and NZ & P 299.95 T56 1990; ] Originally published in 1939, this work comprises traditional Ngai Tahu knowledge as told to Herries Beattie.

A Whaikoorero reader : comparative perspectives for the study of waiata and other traditional Māori speech forms. 1984. [MM 301.32995 O15 21; ]

White, John. The ancient history of the Māori : his mythology and traditions. 1887-1890
[NZ Glass Case 572.995 W58a; ] In English and Māori. There are six volumes divided into Takitimu and Tainui canoe areas. A seventh volume contains engravings. Includes cosmology, myths, legends and more recent history. Notes for volumes 7-13, never published, are also held on microfilm at NZP. White?s scholarship has been attacked (see Andersen, J.C. White?s Ancient history of the Māori. [MM and NZ Glass Case 572.995W58aYa]), but much of his material has not been recorded elsewhere. Indexed by Fletcher, (See page 7)

6.3  Finding Journal Articles Top of page

Individual articles in journals and newspapers are not listed separately on Library Search, the on-line catalogue. You must search various special indexes or look at bibliographies in other published works on the subject. The research tools listed below are the most useful for finding sources in this field.

Index New Zealand (INNZ) 1987- [Computer Database]

Look for recent journal and newspaper articles in Index New Zealand (INNZ). It is available throughout the University of Auckland library system on the Library network. A web version is available at staff desktops and via electronic campus. It is updated every three months.

All searches are keyword searches which search all the words of the record unless the computer is instructed to search only one particular field. The asterisk is the truncation symbol.

Try the searches maori and mythology, maori and legends, maori languages, maori and literature, maori and fiction, maori and literary criticism, maori and newspapers, maori and literacy, maori music, maori dance, maori arts etc.

Add the words and book reviews to your search to locate book reviews

Subject headings used are listed in the APAIS thesarus [NZ & P Quick Reference 015.94 A93a]. 

Index to New Zealand periodicals 1941-1986
The precursor of INNZ, the Index to New Zealand periodicals, indexes only journals, including the Māori Affairs Department publication, Te Ao hou. It covers the years 1941-1986 and is kept on the NZ & P Quick Reference shelves. Look under Māoris.

Finding Māori language newspapers and journals with VOYAGER Top of page

Use the guided keyword search Māori periodicals with the subject keyword using set limit to select Māori language to find all Māori language serials.

   Main Search List    


  Guided Keyword Search   


   Course Material Search    





 Search for:

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Set Search Limits 

Search for "Māori newspaper?" to find all Māori language newspapers (a question mark is the truncation symbol). The Microtexts Reading Room has copies of most Māori language newspapers on microfiche, and some are also held in the NZ Glass Case.

Journal of the Polynesian Society &
Transactions and Proceedings of the New Zealand Institute
Top of page
Nineteenth and early twentieth century material was generally published in the Journal of the Polynesian Society (JPS) or the Transactions and proceedings of the New Zealand Institute (TNZI) which have their own indexes as well as being indexed by Taylor. 

Journal of the Polynesian Society. 1892-
[MM 572.995 P78; Also some vols. in Short Loan Collection]] Indexed to 1970 by Taylor bibliography (see above) but also has its own centennial index for the years 1892-1992. Personal, place and other proper names in early contributions are indexed by Fletcher (see p.7). The JPS has published a large number of myths, legends, tribal histories and analysis of them in Māori and English over the years. Contributors included Māori scholars from various iwi.

Transactions and proceedings of the New Zealand Institute. 1868-
[MM and NZ & P 506 T77]
Before the JPS was started this was the journal for scholarly articles about Māori. There are several indexes covering different periods which are shelved with the volumes. Subject approach is under the general heading "Papers - Anthropology and Philology". Also indexed by Taylor and Fletcher. 

6.4  Bibliographies & Inventories Top of page

The books listed below are some of the most important general bibliographies and published inventories. Bibliographies in other books may also prove useful. Books with bibliographies can be found by adding the words and bibliography to any keyword search. View the record in FULL VIEW to see the note about bibliographies on the screen.

Curnow, Jenny. Nga taonga o Te Tai Tokerau. 1998 [MM 016.99512 T17]
Bibliography listing manuscripts, theses and books about the history, traditions,
language, genealogies, incantations, localities, proverbs and customs of Tai Tokerau

Iwidex : Ngapuhi. 1993 [MM and NZ & P Quick Reference 572.995 I96 1]
Covers manuscript and printed sources for Ngapuhi history, traditions, whakapapa and culture.

McRae, Jane. Nga iwi o te Tai Tokerau : nga korero nonamata me naianei hoki...a catalogue of the Māori language relating to the history and traditions of tribes in Tai Tokerau. 1981. [MM 016.99512 M17] Inventories some of the more important collections

Simmons, D.R. The great New Zealand myth : a study of the discovery and origin traditions of the Māori. 1976 [MM and NZ Glass Case 572.995 S59g] Also at Short loan. A careful investigation of the sources of the generally accepted versions of the canoe traditions. Includes an 82 page bibliography of printed and manuscript material, covering a much wider range of sources than the particular focus of the book. The entries for the more important collections, such as the Grey MS (pp.413-420), include an inventory of the individual items.

Taylor, C.R.H. A bibliography of publications on the New Zealand Māori and the Moriori of the Chatham Islands. 1972. [MM and NZ & P 016.995 T23]
Covers books and journal articles published prior to 1970. It is classified by subject and includes sections on, language, pp.64-70, folklore, pp.71-77, traditional history, pp.77-81, music, songs,games, chants and recreations, pp.81-84, tribal and local Māori history, pp.85-91. Entries are not annotated and there is no access by iwi or region.

Williams, H.W. A bibliography of printed Māori to 1900 and Supplement.. 1975
[MM and NZ & P 572.995 N53dm 7 1975] Originally published in 1924. The 1975 edition includes a supplement compiled by A.D.Sommerville comprising emendations and additions to the original list and extending the period covered to 1947. The supplement is also available as a separate publication
[See NZP 572.995 N53dm 7 Supp. 2]

6.5  Finding Contemporary Literature written by Māori in English Top of page

There is no particular subject heading on Library Search which can be used to locate this material.

Some well-known authors (Alan Duff, Patricia Grace, Witi Ihimaera, Robert Sullivan, Apirana Taylor, Ngahuia Te Awekotuku, Briar Grace-Smith and Hone Tuwhare) are covered by the NZ & Pacific New Zealand Literature File which is available on Library website from the NZ & Pacific subject page. This lists the author?s own works as well as reviews, criticism and biographical material.

Use INNZ to locate journal articles, book reviews, biographical material for writers not covered by the New Zealand Literature File.

See also
Dirty silence : aspects of language and literature in New Zealand. 1991
[MM and NZ & P 427.995 D61] which includes 3 essays on contemporary Māori writing and some useful bibliographies.

Wevers, Lydia. ?Short fiction by Māori writers? in Commonwealth : essays and studies, Vol.16,No.2, pp.26-33 (Spr 1994) [General 820.9 C72]

Pearson. Bill. ?The Māori and literature 1938-1965? in The Māori people in the nineteen-sixties. 1968 [MM and NZ & P 301.451095 S41] This covers writing by Māori as well as writing about Māori.  

6.6  Anthologies Top of page

See also the anthologies of Māori writing edited by Witi Ihimaera and published as the Te Ao marama series. Five volumes have been published to 1996:

Te whakahuatanga o te ao : reflections of reality. 1992. [MM and NZ & P 820.8914 A638]

He whakaatanga o te ao : the reality. 1993. [MM and NZ & P 301.451095 W551]

Te puawaitanga o te korero : the flowering [MM and NZ & P 820.8914 A638p]

Te ara o te hau : the path of the wind. 1994. [MM and NZ & P 820.8914 A638a]
Writing for children.

Te torino : the spiral. 1996. [MM and NZ & P 820.8914 A638t]

6.7  Specialised Indexes Top of page

Barlow, Cleve. He pukapuka whakataki kupu o te Paipera Tapu = A concordance of the Holy Bible. [MM 220.599541 B25; ] Also in NZ Glass Case
Although the Bible has been translated from English it remains an important early text. This index includes proper names and ordinary words and can be used in conjunction with any edition of the Bible in Māori.

Fletcher, Henry James. [Index of Māori names]
[NZ Microfilm 194 and 195; ]
Indexes names of people, hapu, iwi, waka and places from the most important early published sources. Covers early volumes of the Journal of the Polynesian Society, the Transactions and Proceedings of the New Zealand Institute, John White?s Ancient History of the Māori, Sir George Grey?s Polynesian Mythology and Proverbial and popular sayings, Richard Taylor?s Te Ika-ā-Maui, S. Percy Smith's Lore of the Whare Wananga, the early bulletins of the Dominion Museum, Edward Shortland?s Māori religion and mythology and The Southern districts of New Zealand.

Harlow, Ray. A name & word index to Nga moteatea. 1986
[MM 899 N57X]
Indexes the first three volumes of waiata published by Sir Apirana Ngata and Pei Te Hurinui Jones, many of which contain references to myth and legend

Harlow, Ray. A name and word index to Nga mahi a nga tupuna. 1990
[MM and NZ & P 299.95 G84x; ] Indexes proper names and also all the general words used in the 1971 edition

Kirtley, Bacil F. A motif-index of traditional Polynesian narratives. 1971.
[NZ & P 398.20996 K61]
"Analyses and classifies traditional Polynesian (including NZ Māori) myths, tales and legends by motif." Indexes Māori material from the JPS, TNZI, Anderson, Best, Cowan, Grace, Grey, Smith, White and Wohlers under the headings cosmology and cosmogony, animals, tapu, magic, ogres, tests, wise and foolish, deceptions, reversal of fortune, ordaining the future, chance and fate, society, captives and fugitives, unnatural cruelty, sex, religion, character traits. These categories are further broken down into sub-categories so that it is possible to search for myths about the moon for example.

6.8  Manuscript material Top of page

Māori literature stems from an oral tradition. The first appearance on paper was generally in manuscript form in a whakapapa book, in a compilation put together at the request of Pakeha researchers or in the field notes of the researchers themselves. Only later did collections of stories appear in published form. The Matauranga Māori Collection and Special Collections have copies of some of the more important of these manuscripts of which only a few are mentioned below. Manuscript and archival material in the University is not recorded on Libray Search but is listed in separate printed catalogues and detailed inventories available at Special Collections.

Grey, George. [Papers], ca 1854-1890
The originals are kept at the Auckland City Library (cnr of Lorne and Wellesley St) but a photocopy is held in the Matauranga Māori Collection in 100 bound volumes. The collection contains stories from many parts of New Zealand and has been extensively inventoried.

Whatahoro, H.T. [Genealogies], 8 vols.
The original books are held in Special Collections. Ngati Kahungunu and Whanganui history and traditions. There is a basic inventory in the Special Collections Reading Room

6.9  Archive of Māori and Pacific Music Top of page

This large collection of tape recordings is kept in the Anthropology Department in the Human Sciences building. It includes waiata, karakia and whaikorero from all parts of New Zealand. Indexes are available to the names of composers and performers, places of recording, and first lines. It is also possible to track down items by the name of a particular iwi or hapu.
Contact Christina Muaiava at 3737599 ext 7553 or 5918.

Printed catalogues have been produced for several of the major parts of the collection. (The Māori Purposes Fund Board recordings of 1953-1958, the McLean Collection from 1958-1979). These can be located on Library Search by using a guided keyword search for waiata catalogs.

6.10  Key to Library Locations Top of page

Library Search (the on-line catalogue)  Can be accessed from workstations in all University of Auckland libraries and via the University of Auckland Library home page on the Internet.
Library Website Library Electronic Academic Resources Network. Available on public access workstations in the Library.
General Library   5 Alfred St, Auckland City
MM Mātauranga Māori Collection At the north-side of Level G, following the wooden display shelving on the right.
Microfilm Held in the Microtext Reading Room, Level G, to the left of the glass staircase.
NZ Glass Case A restricted access collection in Special Collections. Ask at the Special Collections reception desk.
NZ & P Books with these letters preceding the call number are held on the open shelves in the NZ & Pacific Collection, Level G  of the General Library Building.
NZ & P Quick Reference Level G, General Library, on the wooden display shelving at the entrance to the Mātauranga Māori area.
Short Loan Collection Level 1, Kate Edger Information Commons
Special Collections To the south-side of Level G of the General Library, left of the glass staircase.
Thesis General Library Ask for items with this location at the Lending Services Desk, Level G, General Library.

Contact: Māori and Pasifika Services
File Last updated by Troy Tuhou 10 September 2014