Total posts: 1
Posted:Kia ora koutou,
have been looking over your tremendous site and have been drawn into the discussion regarding the validity of written sources of information compared to traditional Maori oral histories. This is relevant when discussing aspects of Poi History.

In NZ we basically have 2 knowledge waves, 1 Maori and the other Western based.

Maori have oral histories that have a whakapapa - simply put all the oral histories can be validified by seeing where and how they fit (like a piece to a jigsaw) within the entire context of Te Ao Maori. Information can be assessed in comparison to waiata, karakia, nga mahi a te rehia, pakiwaitara (factual legends), pepeha, whakapapa, carvings, tattoo, weaving, whai korero and so on - they are several ways of checking for validity. One hapu (family group) has a whakapapa for information and this can be cross-checked against the oral histories of nearby hapu and within the Iwi (tribal) framework. So there are many checks & balances.

We find that Western books, which Maori generally regard as being inferior sources of history(not as many c&b), dominates our society. Centuries of well structured and highly evolved methods of oral history, which Maori have refined to an art form, do not demand equal status in our society EXCEPT in the courtrooms of the Treaty of Waitangi Tribunal where Maori Oral Histories are evaluated by the highly qualified (mostly European) udges and such methods are valued ABOVE written European sources.

A commonly referred to example involves our extinct giant eagle.
In the 1830s a missionary was doing some research with a local chief, Rongomai. The chief had stated that a huge eagle, called the hokioi,once flew in NZ skies. He described the feathers as being black, with a trim of red on the head and that it lived in the tallest trees of the forests. The chief recited several relevant waiata & pakiwaitara as "proof" but the missionary laughed off the claims and asked for more "proof". To Rongomai the visual impacts of the colours used in his cloak and the carvings depicting hokioi, part of the validifying whakapapa "chain", was too much and he exclaimed to the missionary - "Whats the matter with you, are you blind!"

It wasn't until the 1870s that a "scientist" named Haast "discovered" some skeletons,in the South Island, of the largest eagle that ever existed in world history. Suddenly the scientific world took notice! what a major "discovery"! Yet to Maori this was common knowledge! It wasn't until the 1930s that scientists acknowledged that the "Haast Eagle" actually lived in tall trees (and not in the Southern Alps) and to this day the eagle is depicted with hawk like feathering, totally ignoring the Maori assertions that the hokioi had all black feathering.

This pattern has been repeated over and over. It is not until a European author publishes Maori works in a book that Maori knowledge is taken seriously. This happened with Maori sailing techniques (Europeans couldn't fathom how Maori could navigate the largest ocean in the world without instruments - so they attributed Maori voyages as "hit & miss" affairs), with Maori sports histories, with their astronomical studies...and with Poi developments. Poi were produced prolifically in ancient times in a variation of design and artefact implementation - they were not just fluffy little dance accompaniments used by wahine to create actions with, they were used in combat training, as a sports artefact, as artwork and as weopons.

I hope this "angle" to the debate about the validity of Maori oral histories conveys aperspective that "makes sense"!

Ka kite George

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GOLD Member since Jul 2003


Basu gasu bakuhatsu - because sometimes buses explode
Location: Angel's Landing, USA

Total posts: 1584
Posted:I'm a stupid foreigner... all I know is how to recite the first part of the 'Kia Mau' song.

But you'll have to point me out to more of these. I was looking for them online as well as the oral history of the origins of Poi, but naturally and obviously Maori oral histories aren't transfered to digital information formats often.

To do: More Firedrums 08 video?
Wildfire/US East coast fire footage
LA/EDC glow/fire footage
Fresno fire

<img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/ubbrollsmile.gif" alt="" />


SILVER Member since Apr 2002


Mumma Hen
Location: Brisbane, Australia

Total posts: 6391
Posted:Kia Ora,

Ko Kristy taku ingoa

Thank you so much for the wonderful background on the understanding of so many aspects of the Maori culture.

I have spun Poi since I was five years old, I belong to Ngati Kahungunu and was taught by Waea Waru, who hailed from Ngati Porou.

She taught me so much about the culture, and I felt an awakening come over my spirit when I undertook waiata a ringa and kapahaka preformance. I have always honoured and revered my countrys culture and I understand and feel its beauty, but could never put it into words.

Thanks you for doing that for me.

I have always, and will always, believe in the magic that is Maori.

e iti noa arna, nga te aroha. hug

TAJ "boat mummy." VALURA "yes sweetie you went on a boat, was daddy there with you?" TAJ "no, but monkey on boat" VALURA "well then sweetie, Daddy WAS there with you"


SILVER Member since Oct 2003


.:*distracted by shiny things*:.
Location: brizvegas, Australia

Total posts: 3776
Posted:wooh... hug i know zilch about maori culture...well, until i read this thread! the language is so beautiful! i wanna learn more! smile

*falls over in awe*

do not meddle in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy and good to eat!

if at first you do succeed, try not to look too astonished!

smile! grin it confuses people!


SILVER Member since Dec 2004


Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: Hampshire College, MA, USA

Total posts: 3533
Posted:hey, cool! good to lean something new. thanks!


"How do you know if you're happy or sad without a mask? Or angry? Or ready for dessert?"