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No. 52 (September 1965)
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Mervyn McLean's Study of Maori Music

The Editor,
Te Ao Hou.

I agree very strongly with Mr Wikiriwhi that Mr Mervyn McLean in his study of Maori music is doing our people a great service. Furthermore it is not only the Maori people who will benefit, for our traditional music is now part of the heritage of all New Zealanders.

As Mr Wikiriwhi says, there is no reason at all why Mr McLean should feel that he cannot accept payment for the articles he is publishing in ‘Te Ao Hou’. Mr McLean's profession is music, and he is entitled to receive payment for his labour and skill, as we all do.



Cook's Visit to Bay of Islands

The Editor,
‘Te Ao Hou’.

I am one of many readers who are grateful to ‘Te Ao Hou’ for printing unpublished texts of Maori myths and traditions, and for giving us accurate English translations of them. May I therefore ask on behalf of those who are ignorant of the Maori language for a correct translation of Te Rangikaheke's description of the death of Maui which was quoted (in Maori only) by Erik Schwimmer in your March issue?

In the June issue you print an account of Cook's and Marion du Fresne's visits to the Bay of Islands in 1769 and 1772, taken from a manuscript in John White's papers, of which the author is unknown. The account of Cook's arrival is almost identical with that given to C. O. Davis by Patuone, and published in Davis's memoir, ‘The Life and Times of Patuone’. As Patuone and his family are the central figures in White's manuscript, this provides additional ground for supposing that Patuone wrote it, or told the story to White. A further reason is the use of the word ‘maitai’ for the strangers. So far as I am aware, the only other time Pakehas were called ‘maitai’ was when Patuone gave the same account to Davis.

Patuone died in 1872, and because he said he remembered Cook's visit in 1769, Davis estimated that he lived to be 108. In this case he would have been an old man of about 75 when he was baptised in 1840, and on the same reckoning his younger brother Nene must have been about 70 when he led the support for the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, and over 100 when he died in 1871. These ages seem improbable. It is more likely that as an old man Patuone confused traditions and memory, and mixed up what he had been told of Cook's visit with what he remembered of Marsden's arrival 45 years later. (It was Marsden, not Cook, who was given land at Te Puna.) This confusion also suggests that Patuone gave the account to White in his old age. It was then, while he was living at Takapuna, that he gave the similar account to C. O. Davis.


(Palmerston North)

The passage telling of Maui's death is as follows:

‘Then he entered, head first. When his head disappeared, the cheeks of the many birds puckered [with suppressed laughter]. His shoulders disappeared, then his chest. At this stage those fantails [unable to restrain themselves any longer], laughed aloud.

‘That woman was startled out of her sleep. Anā! Waking up, she opened her eyes and brought her thighs together. Behold! By this time Maui had disappeared up to his waist. When she closed them over those tattooed hips, behold! One half was broken off inside, the other half was broken off outside. So died this Maui….’

The word anā is defined in William's Dictionary as ‘An interjection calling immediate attention’.—Ed.

Recording Lives of Great Men

The Editor,
‘Te Ao Hou’.

Could I make a plea through your columns for a systematic approach to the compiling of biographies of the great makers of modern Maoridom?

As time passes the links with the past become more tenuous but at the moment there are people alive whose knowledge of the great figures of the past will be lost with their death.

Could not some body—The Maori Council or some other—accept the challenge that the past is worth preserving? I would suggest that a list be compiled of those people who, though among the most influential leaders in the last hundred years, have not yet had their

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lives fully recorded. For example: Wahanui, Te Whiti, Tohu Kakahi, Rewi Maniapoto, Tawhiao, Te Kooti, Te Rangi Hiroa, Te Puea and others.

A biographer working with the authority of an official body, and carrying with him the commendation of the leaders of the appropriate tribal or religious group, would be in a strong position to pursue his enquiries. To assist him, a corresponding committee could be appointed from among those with a special knowledge of the subject.

Is anyone prepared to act now to keep alive the memories of our greatest leaders?



The Editor,
Te Ao Hou.

Recently in a newspaper I read a letter from a Maori asking why there are so very few Maori programmes on television. Frankly, I wondered the same. I am a European and am trying to learn the Maori language, and for this reason listen to every possible Maori session on the radio. But why are there so few of them?

Surely more could be done on radio and television to help the many students of Maori language and culture.