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Ngā Pepeha a ngā Tupuna: The Sayings of the Ancestors—Sidney M. Mead (2001)

Hirini Moko Mead brings together this unique collection of more than 2,500 pēpeha, ‘sayings of the ancestors’, gathered and compiled from all over New Zealand, over a 20-year period.

Publication details

Mead, S. M. Ngā Pēpeha a ngā Tipuna: The Sayings of the Ancestors. Wellington: Victoria University Press, 2001.

About the book

More than just proverbs, pēpeha include charms, witticisms, figures of speech and boasts, and they are featured in the formal speeches heard every day on the marae and in the oral literature handed down from past generations. Indeed, for contemporary Māori pēpeha are not merely historical relics, rather they constitute a communication with ancestors. Through the medium of words, it is possible to discover how the ancestors thought about life, their problems, their advice and their wisdom. The pēpeha also provide a rich source of language, using metaphor and an economy of words to show language that enriches our understanding of Māori culture.

Ngā Pēpeha a ngā Tipuna includes more than 2,500 pēpeha. Each entry is arranged alphabetically and includes the pēpeha in te reo Māori, references and a translation and brief contextual notes in English.

Montana NZ Book Awards, 2002. Winner of the Reference and Anthology category.

Further information 


This publication is part of the series Te Takarangi: Celebrating Māori publications - a sample list of 150 non-fiction books produced by a partnership between Royal Society Te Apārangi and Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga.