Ngā mātauranga hōu: modern Māori scholars in ebooks and online

September 12, 2022

In our last Insync survey asking how students rated the Massey Library, we received this comment:  

“My biggest concern is that when writing essays based on Māori kaupapa or principles many books such as fundamental ones from Mason Durie are not available online. I do not live close to the Massey library. This is of great concern given that these resources are rich sources of information for students in Aotearoa.”

Aware that Aotearoa/New Zealand books were originally slower to offer Library-friendly ebook options, I decided to investigate. What options are there for Massey students and researchers? Both within Massey’s collections and on the free internet?

I undertook this as a Pākeha librarian still educating myself about te ao Māori. I acknowledge my current and former colleagues Sheeanda McKeagg, Ria Waikerepuru, Bruce White, and Carla Jeffrey, in thanks for all I have learned from them. I’m also aware indigenous communities over the world have reason to distrust universities and libraries as places where white supremacy was reinforced. Indigenous knowledge was denigrated, misrepresented, or exploited, and cultural traditions about who could have access to this knowledge ignored. Many libraries are starting to work through this history and starting to try to work in partnership. With that said, this is what I found out.

Whether books are released as ebooks or not, and if they are Library friendly ebooks is a publisher decision, so how are they doing? I started with Sir Mason Durie and did a Discover search and then limited my results to ebooks (check it out). I then checked Linda Tuhuwai-Smith and Hirini Moko Mead, as scholars I was aware of. A lot of their books are still only in print, but there are ebooks, and several of them are collections of their writings, or collections of writings by Māori scholars. Many of them are published by Huia Publishers – ka rawe!

So if you’re looking for a particular author, I recommend searching Discover and checking what ebooks are available. Be prepared to examine collections they appear in. Remember that you can request print from any of our campus libraries, and our Distance Service is well-known for being prompt! You can also request scans of up to a chapter (our copyright limit) and we are also happy to scan contents pages.

I’m pleased to see proportions of Māori ebooks rising. In 2018, the Royal Society of New Zealand and Ngā Pae o Māramatanga compiled Te Takarangi, a sample list of 150 Māori non-fiction books to celebrate the long history of Māori scholarship. Of the 58 books published since 2010, 29 of them are available as ebooks. Of the Māori books published since 2018 that Massey holds, two-thirds of them are ebooks.

For finding Māori information on the free internet, there will be many places, and I’m not even going to attempt to cover them all! These are my current favourites.

E-tangata e-tangata.co.nz  E-tangata’s tagline is ‘a Māori-Pasifika Sunday magazine’. It has writing by  many major Māori researchers and thinkers, reflecting on kaupapa in today’s world. If you don’t already, please read it, and support them financially if you’re in the position to do so!

DigitalNZ https://digitalnz.org/  is the National Library working with a range of partners to provide an amazing range of digitised resources: video, audio, print, pictures from collections around New Zealand.  Working on an early draft of this post, I listened to a fascinating talkback radio session (date unknown) about trade in taonga with Hirini Moko Mead, Piripi Walker, Wiremu Cooper, and various callers.

NZETC https://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/ Victoria University of Wellington has digitised New Zealand and Pacific books, and made them available to everyone. It has a lot of Māori content, best for the 19th and early 20th century. Nicely searchable as well.

Ngā Pāe o te Māramatanga https://www.maramatanga.co.nz/ is New Zealand’s Māori Centre for Research Excellence. Explore their knowledge portal for reports, videos, books. https://www.maramatanga.co.nz/knowledge-portal. Their aim is to do research of relevance to Māori communities.

Lastly, some general searching advice. When searching Google or other search engines, try adding site:.maori.nz or site:.iwi.nz to your search terms to limit your results to Māori websites. Iwi.nz is moderated – registrants have to be part of a distinct iwi or hapū and have the permission of that iwi or hapū. Māori.nz is unmoderated. Limiting to government (site:.govt.nz) or academic (site:.ac.nz) sites can also be valuable.

Katherine Chisholm
Business Librarian

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