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Words Between Us: He Korero: First Maori-Pakeha Conversations on Paper

Words Between Us: He Korero: First Maori-Pakeha Conversations on Paper

Автором Alison Jones и Kuni Jenkins

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Words Between Us: He Korero: First Maori-Pakeha Conversations on Paper

Автором Alison Jones и Kuni Jenkins

357 pages
4 hours
Nov 6, 2015


This book traces Maori engagement with handwriting from 1769 to 1826. Through beautifully reproduced written documents, it describes the first encounters Maori had with paper and writing and the first relationships between Maori and Europeans in the earliest school. The book tells an image-led story about the earliest relationships between Maori and Pakeha based around the written word and sheds light on a larger story of the first attempts of Maori and Europeans to live together in the early 1800s, the negotiation of the relationship through conversations and correspondence, and frustrations of Maori at the limits of the teaching Europeans offered. Key people link the stories as the written words between Maori and Pakeha are tracked through documents such as Maori vocabularies, a map, letters, the alphabet, signatures, the first school roll, copybook pages and the first letter written independently by Maori.
Nov 6, 2015

Об авторе

Alison Jones is a professor of education at the University of Auckland. She has worked with Maori scholars and students in the field of education for twenty-five years and has a fascination with the complexities of Maori–Pakeha educational relationships.

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Words Between Us - Alison Jones


Front Cover

Title Page

He Pao Waka Taki

Acknowledgements / He mihi


Finding the first Māori–Pākehā conversations on paper

This book



Word-giving in 1769

How words were collected

Words remain behind

Word-giving as first teaching encounters


Tukitahua teaches Europeans in 1793

Kidnapping a teacher

Tuki and Huru give words to be written down

Tuki draws a map and gives political instruction


First Māori use of written texts: the early 1800s

Māori authority enshrined in text


Maui studies writing in 1806

Maui leaves home

Maui returns home ‘cramped by civilisation’

The first problems of Euclid


A letter to Ruatara in June 1814

Ruatara’s farm in Australia

Ruatara meets Marsden

Ruatara invites a teacher to come to the Bay of Islands

The expected visitors from Australia


The 1814 journey to collect a Pākehā teacher

Going to get ‘our Pakeha’ from Australia

The rangatira have doubts about their invitation

Mana and the invitation for Pākehā settlement


Not a sermon: an educational event on Christmas Day, 1814

A ritual of encounter: a pōwhiri for the first European arrivals

An important instructional event

A haka to the future


Tā moko signatures on the first land deeds, 1815 and 1819

A mark on paper to ‘sow the Pākehā into the whenua’

Hongi’s tā moko on his own land deal

Tā moko as signature

Words written on the body


The first school roll – August 1816

A delusion of order

Slaves, orphans and rangatira

One fish for each scholar

Strange school objects

A young writer called ‘Mayree’

The school becomes famous

The star graduate of the first school


‘A Korao no New Zealand’: the first New Zealand book, 1815

Māori instruct the European teachers

A teaching book

Teaching the Pākehā about Māori life

‘Reading’ and ‘writing’ become Māori words in A Korao


Māori at school in Australia from 1815

A school for security

Teaching and debate at the Parramatta seminary

Māori and the Darug people

Māori deaths at the Australian school

The joy of writing


Māori letters from the Industrial Revolution: 1818

Going to England to gain all the information in their power

Drawings on paper

Messages to take home

The teachers make impossible demands

Tuai and Titere return with the missionaries they reject


‘Daily life written down’: the 1820 Grammar

Daily life written down

The categories ‘māori’ and ‘Pākehā’ in the Grammar

School language in the Grammar 171

A sheep should be called a sheep!


Writing at school in Rangihoua in 1826

Writing and the body

‘Waka rongo ki te kōrero’: learning new meaning through writing

‘They do not receive our message’

Writing for things


The first Māori letter, in 1825: ‘E te tini rangatira o ropi’

Young rangatira at school

Desire for a school

Hongi Hika’s advice: teach the children

Hongi writes political documents


Conclusion: making writing Māori



Primary sources

Archives, libraries, manuscripts and images

Personal communications

Newspapers and journals

Published books and articles

Unpublished theses



HE PAO WAKA TAKI by Kuni Jenkins

Acknowledgements / He mihi

Tēna koutou katoa ngā tāngata i tautokohia i tēnei rangahau, me tōna kaupapa ki te whai take mō te kura tuatahi. Tēna hoki koutou o Ngāti Torehina. Nā koutou te Pā Tūwatawata o Rangihoua i manaakitia te manuhiri o tērā atu rautau nō te Kirihīmete o 1814, a kai reira tonu koutou e hāpai tonu ana i te kaupapa o tēnā kura i tīmata mai i to rohe o Te Hōhi.

Many people deserve thanks for their support of the project that produced this book and the exhibition of its images. The Marsden Fund of the Royal Society of New Zealand gave a generous grant to support the research and writing; Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga at the University of Auckland helped fund the exhibition (‘Ngā Taonga Tuhituhi’) of images from this book; the Faculty of Education and Te Puna Wānanga at the University of Auckland kindly tolerated Alison’s absences; Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi tolerated Kuni’s. Librarians at the Hocken Library in Dunedin, the Alexander Turnbull Library in Wellington, the Sir George Grey Special Collections at Auckland City Libraries, the Mitchell Library in Sydney, the University of Auckland library, the Auckland War Memorial Museum library, the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, and the University of Birmingham library’s special collections located, copied and discussed material. We particularly thank Phil Parkinson, Robert Eruera and Jane Davison-Ladd in this regard. Alice van der Merwe, Rose Yukich and Debbie Dunsford assisted with research and editing. Kevin Church at Opticmix made sure the images looked good. Practical Studio Supplies made boxes for the exhibition of images, which were framed by Homestead Picture Framers in Henderson.

We want to acknowledge the many individuals who debated with us, inspired us and supported us at various times during the project, in particular: Nuki Aldridge, Chris Barber, Jamie Belich, Avril Bell, Judith Binney, Peter Calder, Hemi Dale, Rima Edwards, Pamela Gillespie, Camille Guy, Hilda Halkyard Harawira, Erima Henare, Manuka Henare, Patu Hohepa, Rau Hoskins, Te Kawehau Hoskins, Moana Jackson, Alison Lee, Mike Leuluai, Mere Mangu, Liz McKinley, Joan Metge, Sue Middleton, Merimeri Penfold, Anahera Pomare, Ron Poti, Hugh Rihari, Raewyn Rihari, Charles Royal, Anne Salmond, Hone Sadler, Natasha Sadler, Waihoroi Shortland, Judith Simon, Peter Simpson, Linda Smith, Rudy Taylor, Joe Te Rito, Stephen Turner and Pepi Walker.

Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi’s Council, its community, its staff and its students were attentive and supportive to both Kuni and Alison during the project. Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, through its Manukau Campus in Mangere, showed interest and support. The Organising Committee for the Waitangi Tribunal Hearings for the Te Paparahi o Te Raki (Northland) Inquiry in 2010 supported the final phase of the project by including us on the agenda of hearings. We thank Charl Hirschfeld, Tavake Afeaki, Nora Rameka, Erima Henare and Tahei Simpson for their work with us. Māori Anglican clergy have given us opportunities to work with their various Haahi hui, and so we thank Bishop Rt Rev. Ben Te Haara, Bishop Rt Rev. Te Kitohi Pikaahu, Archdeacon Hone Kaa and Rev. Lloyd Popata.

Alison thanks her whānau, Peter Calder, Finn McCahon-Jones, Frey McCahon-Jones, Emma Blomeley, Max Calder-Watson, Janet Calder-Watson and Sophie Jones – for their encouragement and their interest in the project. In particular, many thanks to Peter Calder for his writing advice, and his unstinting support and love. Kuni thanks her whānau, Heeni Jenkins, Ahi Pere, Hineatauira and Dion Wilkinson, and Maharata Pere, who have followed the work in all of its phases.

Last but not least, we thank each other. Neither of us could have done this work alone.


Finding the first Māori–Pākehā conversations on paper

Library archives are strangely exciting places. They sit there, quiet stacks of books and old paper, silently humming with thousands of stories. Closed to random rummagers, guarded by librarians, the past seems to wait for someone to reach out to it. To open a box or a book on a page of old handwriting, with its browning ink on yellowing paper, requires a steady nerve. Having been discovered, the ancestors demand attention. We cannot simply close the box and leave them alone again.

We entered the archives to find out about Māori interest in the first school in New Zealand. As university teachers, we often encounter a vague assumption amongst our students that Māori simply turned up at schools built by missionaries, came across their own written language created by Europeans, and were encouraged by Europeans with a ‘civilising mission’ to learn to read and write. We knew there must be more to it. So we went to look at some 1826 writing exercises by Māori boys who had attended one of New Zealand’s first schools. The smell of old paper, the quiet of the archive library’s reading room, the solitary intensity of the people working at desks all accompanied our meeting with some schoolboys from the distant past, when written Māori words were a relatively new invention.

The librarian at the Sir George Grey Special Collections in the Auckland City Library retrieved a cardboard folder for us. Inside were some small stitched booklets. The top booklet looked rather grubby, with a foxed cover and fragile crumpled edges (Illustration 1). On the front, in the top right corner were archeological accretions: at least five cataloguing annotations by librarians made over a number of years by pencil, pen and inked stamp. In the centre, in schoolboy copperplate, we read:

Illustration 1. Cover of Rangitawido’s [Rangitawhito] copybook, 1826. GNZ MMS 19. Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland City Libraries.


October 23


Then, added later, in smudged adult scrawl:

Copy Books of Boys Educated by Mr King of Tepuna. GG

We were struck by the beauty of the pupil’s writing: the delicate curl at the top of the ‘R’ of ‘Rangitawido’, the careful upstroke of the ‘1’ of 1826, the laborious precision of the lettering on carefully ruled lines. We were equally taken with the quick hand of the collector George Grey (‘GG’), who, with an eye on posterity, had marked the humble schoolbook as a historical artefact. There were three such booklets: one each by Rangitawido, Hutamate and Tapahika, who had attended John King’s school at Rangihoua in the Bay of Islands between 1826 and 1828. The pages were filled with carefully repeated handwritten phrases, largely in the Māori language. These ordinary exercises in writing glowed; the boys who worked at their desks so long ago seemed present in their luminous marks on the page. Their writing suggested a hunger for learning to write, about which we were intensely curious. How did Māori first encounter writing? What might it have been like to take up a European technology that, by some obscure power, seemed to be able to speak in the language of the local people?

As educationists, one Māori, one Pākehā, we became devoted to finding more textual artefacts from the earliest moments of our shared educational past. Over a number of months, we went back to the first encounters Māori had with paper and with writing, and to the relationships between Māori and Europeans that led to the first schools. We found a number of written texts made with close Māori involvement – some written by Europeans and some by Māori themselves. These written texts and some drawings, and the stories of how they came to be, make up this book.


Our intent is to tell an image-led story about the earliest Māori-Pākehā relationships in which paper and pen had a place. In other words, the images of handwriting and drawing in this book trace a story larger than that of Māori engagement with (hand)written words. The artefacts speak of first Māori and European attempts at living together in the early nineteenth century. They give a unique insight into the intense decades before 1830, when Māori-European relationships were being negotiated in conversations, many elements of which were recorded or conducted on paper. They hint at Māori frustration with their European teachers, and the limits of the teaching on offer. And they remind us that our shared relationship with writing began well before the two famously different written documents of 1840: the Māori-language ‘Tiriti o Waitangi’ and the ‘Treaty of Waitangi’, the English-language version. The Māori who were key players in the beginnings of Māori writing and schooling deserve to be household names in New Zealand, or at least familiar characters in today’s school curriculum. It is most often the European players who are best remembered; here we bring to the foreground Māori who taught those first Europeans and were taught by them.

The sixteen essays in this book, each based on a different textual artefact or group of artefacts, together give an account of how Māori came to writing between 1769 and 1826. Key people link each story to the next as we track the written ‘words between us’ – between Māori and Pākehā – in the years following James Cook’s visit in 1769, when Māori words were first provided for recording on paper. The artefacts displayed and discussed here include the first collected Māori vocabularies from the eighteenth century; a famous map drawn by Tukitahua in 1793; a letter written to Ruatara in 1814; alphabet letters copied by Hongi Hika in 1814; Tara’s cross on a letter in 1816; tā moko signatures on the first land deeds in 1815 and 1819; the first school roll from 1816; pages from the first New Zealand printed books (1815 and 1820); and copybook pages from the earliest young writers in classrooms, mentioned above. We end with the first independently written Māori letter, in which a young boy named Hongi in 1825 confidently addressed ‘the many chiefs of Europe’. As Eruera Pare, Hongi went on to translate or write in Māori the most important New Zealand political documents of the 1830s.

Luckily for us, because the first European teachers’ main motivation was to ensure Māori access to the word of (the Anglican) God, they sent samples of Māori writing to the Church Missionary Society (CMS) at their headquarters in London. The missionary teachers’ intention was to reassure the churchmen that their continuing efforts to fund mission settlements in New Zealand were worthwhile. Their short-term motives ensured that some of the fragile pages on which Māori first wrote have survived. All the images reproduced here are high-quality digital copies of the originals (where they exist), sourced from archives in New Zealand, Australia, England and France.

One point must be made here: we have deliberately avoided mention of the traditional whare wānanga, or Māori system of education, that existed prior to and during the period examined in this book. Our focus is entirely on the European technology of writing and where and how it existed in the relationship between European and Māori before about 1825 – a relationship that existed sometimes in schools, which we understand as a specific European invention entirely separate from the whare wānanga.


The essays in this book reflect an interesting difficulty. Up to the early 1830s at least, it was almost exclusively Europeans who wrote the eyewitness letters and diaries. While Māori talked and debated extensively about writing and reading, it was the Europeans who documented in writing, from their point of view, the processes by which the Māori language was written down and taught. Having to read between the lines of European texts in order to tell a Māori story is clearly problematic; to ‘write over’ the dominating European text with a Māori inflection is a challenge. We read original manuscripts, as well as published transcriptions.¹ But, being largely written by male missionaries under pressure to prove their worth to their church employers, the European texts necessarily tell a particular, limited story. The eyewitnesses see only some things, and report only some conversations and events, at times probably exaggerating their claims in ways that reflect their own desires and understandings. However, this is the material we have to work with.

To assist our interpretations, we have turned (sometimes critically) to noted historians and kaumātua such as Anne Salmond, Judith Binney, Phil Parkinson, Patu Hohepa (Ngāpuhi) and Hugh Rihari (Ngāti Torehina). Patu and Hugh helped particularly with our interpretations of the waka taki or pōwhiri for the first settlers, and the so-called first sermon. We have relied on Salmond and Jeffrey Sissons et al for the spelling of some Māori names and genealogical information,² and Kuni Jenkins provided the English translations and modern Māori versions of words, unless otherwise stated. Other writers on the pre-Treaty period also stimulated our readings of the archival images. Keith Newman’s remark in Bible and Treaty: Missionaries Among the Māori that some writers have ‘muddied’ the historical waters with their ‘postmodernist’ perspectives³ (we think he means by this perspectives that do not claim objectivity) provoked us to press forward with our own muddying. In writing about historical events, no one is in clear water. The more debate and critique the better, we believe, as long as it is based in good evidence and argument.

Eschewing the ‘arm’s-length’ school of writing about the past, we have tried to get in close to the Māori people we write about, without forgetting that our empathy is of a twenty-first century kind and can be out of place in a text about the early nineteenth century. We take no particular position in our overall story, except insofar as we attempt to shed new light on relevant events by trying to see them from the Māori ‘side’ as often as we can. We have learned much from conversations over the last three years with the descendants of the Māori creators of the archival texts displayed in this book – people from throughout Te Tai Tokerau, particularly from Ngāti Rehia, Ngāti Torehina, Ngāti Wai, Ngāti Kahu, Ngāti Hine, Ngare Raumati and Ngāpuhi. To these communities we took an exhibition (‘Ngā Taonga Tuhituhi’) of some of the archival texts. The interest, comment and encouragement we found, among the kuia and kaumātua as well as the young people, has energised and focused our work. We have been able to consult the people about our interpretations of the archival texts, as well as introduce them to the work of their ancestors.

Neither of us is from Te Tai Tokerau (the north), but the warm reception we found there carried us forward with our project. As Kuni says, she cannot tell the story of writing among her people of Ngāti Porou, on the eastern coast of the North Island, until the earlier story is told. It all started in the north.


Word-giving in 1769

Māori first encountered writing on the earliest European ships to anchor in their harbours. Scientists on James Cook’s expeditions between 1769 and 1777 collected objects of interest from the Pacific, including words from the people they encountered.

It is hard to imagine the shock experienced by Māori who first heard written words speak in the local language. The startling fact about writing was that Pākehā marks could ‘say’ Māori words; Pākehā texts could have Māori meaning. It was one thing that European visitors had strange objects, language and activities; it was quite another that some of those activities could ‘speak’ in the language of the ordinary people. Existing Māori texts such as tā moko (tattoo); markings on rock, wood and sand; and carvings in wood, stone and bone had complex and detailed meanings, but none could speak as directly or literally as words did. Written words must have appeared magical.

Probably the first Māori to encounter the act of writing were some teenage boys from the hapu Rongowhakaata. During Cook’s first visit, in October 1769, three boys were captured in Tūranganui (Poverty Bay) and taken on board the

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