Ngā Tānga Reo Māori hui

On Friday 19 October, we welcomed researchers from around the country to the first of several hui about the digitisation of te reo Māori material.

One goal of the hui was to explore the idea of digitising the material listed in Phil Parkinson and Penny Griffith’s Books in Māori/Ngā Tānga Reo Māori, 1815-1900: an annotated bibliography published by the Alexander Turnbull Library in 2004.

The bibliography itself was digitised in 2015 and is available through the National Digital Heritage Archive —Books in Māori/Ngā Tānga Reo Māori, 1815-1900: an annotated bibliography

Paul Diamond welcoming people to the hui.
Alexander Turnbull Library Māori curator Paul Diamond welcomes guests. Photo: Mark Beatty.

What's been done already?

After a mihi whakatau, our visitors had an opportunity to introduce themselves and talk about their work with Māori language collections. This was followed by a talk by Greig Roulston, Digitisation Advisor, who shared his research into the items listed in Books in Māori (BIM).

Greig showed us the visualisation he created of some of his findings. The visualisation is reproduced below. It shows that a number of the items have already been digitised (represented by the green squares) and have been made available online by a number of different institutions. However, it is clear there is a significant amount still to do (illustrated by the yellow squares).

You can see more of Greig's research in this interactive data visualisation

Visualisation of items digitised from books listed in Books in Māori.
Visualisation of items digitised from books listed in Books in Māori. The green squares represent items that have a digital representation, the yellow squares represent the items that have been matched to a catalogue record, whereas grey shows the number of items where no catalogue record could be found. The red squares show that no copy has been found, and the black represents a BIM number that was not used in the bibliography. Visualisation: Greig Roulston

Books in Māori items held by Turnbull Library

After lunch we got to view some of the actual items that the Library holds.

Viewing Māori Books For Digitisation
From left to right: Mereana Coleman (te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiarangi), Katrina Tamaira (Archives New Zealand), Paul Meredith (Victoria University (obscured), Paul Diamond, Basil Keane (NZCER). Arini Loader (Victoria University), Robert Eruera (Auckland Libraries). Photo: Llewelyn Jones.

Looking at Māori books to be digitised
Clare Butler (Eastern Institute of Technology), Charlotte Thompson Darling (Alexander Turnbull Library) and Katrina Tamaira (Archives New Zealand) look at some of the advertisements printed in te reo Māori. Photo: Llewelyn Jones.

Copperplate writing of te reo Māori words.
The first lithograph produced in New Zealand: a lesson sheet to teach penmanship, with text by Robert Maunsell and script by the lithographer William Wade, 1839 (BIM 62). Photo: Llewelyn Jones.

Discussion about digitising te reo Māori holdings

We finished up with a discussion focused on some of the questions brought up by the day’s work, centred on the following questions:

  • Is BIM a good list to digitise from?
  • Is there other te reo Māori material the Library should be considering for digitisation?
  • Should every edition or variation be digitised, or is one example enough?
  • Should published material always be full-text searchable?
  • How do people prefer to access digitised material?
  • What formats do people prefer or wish to use?

It was a really interesting discussion, and we came away with some very clear feedback about:

  • the importance of unpublished material as well as published
  • the need to consult widely, and
  • that people wanted to be able to see the images and do full-text searches.

This was the first of a number of hui we’re hoping to hold and we’ll continue to share our findings as we go.

If you’re interested in taking part in one in the future, please feel free to contact me at or  Paul Diamond at

By Melanie Lovell-Smith

Melanie is a Digtisation Advisor at the Library working on the selection and digitisation side for the Papers Past website.

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Sri Te Whakatakari Haaweko May 26th at 2:39PM

he poroka tooku te marau nona ko enei mea me etahi atu

anei te hononga

i have a blog about these things and others, above is the link for the blog