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Maori Oral Tradition

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Jane McRae

Maori oral tradition is the rich, poetic record of the past handed down by voice over generations through whakapapa, whakatauki, korero and waiata. In genealogies and sayings, histories, stories and songs, Maori tell of 'te ao tawhito' or the old world: the gods, the migration of the Polynesian ancestors from Hawaiki and life here in Aotearoa.

A voice from the past, today this remarkable record underpins the speeches, songs and prayers performed on marae and the teaching of tribal genealogies and histories. Indeed, the oral tradition underpins Maori culture itself.This book introduces readers to the distinctive oral style and language of the traditional compositions, acknowledges the skills of the composers of old and explores the meaning of their striking imagery and figurative language. And it shows how nga korero tuku iho - the inherited words - can be a deep well of knowledge about the way of life, wisdom and thinking of the Maori ancestors.