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Pūtea Whakairo: Māori and the Written Word—Bradford Haami (2004)

This book explores the early adoption of literacy amongst Māori by following the writing of the Maaka family.

Publication details

Haami, B. Pūtea Whakairo: Māori and the Written Word. Wellington: Huia Publishers, 2004.

About the book

The introduction of reading and writing to New Zealand by missionaries in 1815 was a catalyst for enormous change in how Māori communicated and recorded information. Literacy was quickly adopted by Māori, as the value of this new technology became increasingly apparent. In Putea Whakairo: Māori and the Written Word (2004), Bradford Haami (Ngāti Awa, Ngāti Kahungunu, Kai Tahu, Tuwharetoa) presents a history of the Ngāti Hikatoa tribe through the writings of seven Māori people spanning four generations of the Maaka family, early adopters of reading and writing. Included are genealogies, traditional histories and personal documents written in Māori and in English that date from 1848 to 1978. Ranging from pepeha and waiata to the bleak, beautiful diaries of a muttonbirder, the documents collected in this book are a rare and intriguing window into the real lives of their authors. This valuable reference work illustrates how whānau, hapū and iwi holding private Māori manuscripts can safeguard and share ancestors’ precious works for the future.

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.