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  • Knowledge is a blessing on your mind: Whakapapa, science and history

Knowledge is a blessing on your mind: Whakapapa, science and history

Dame Anne Salmond ONZ, Distinguished Professor of Māori Studies and Anthropology at the University of Auckland, will deliver the 2020 Friends of the Turnbull Library Founder Lecture.

Embedded content: https://youtu.be/MfJarzHYAdE

1 hour 16 mins | Recorded on Tuesday 23 February 2021 at Taiwhanga Kauhau — Auditorium, (lower ground) National Library Wellington. Entrance on Aitken Street.

Transcript — Knowledge is a blessing on your mind: Whakapapa, science and history

  • Transcript — part 1

    Speakers

    Kate Fortune, Paul Diamond, Anne Salmond, Chris Szekely

    Audio

    Kate Fortune: Greetings to you all. I am Kate Fortune, president of the Friends of Turnbull Library, Ngā Hoa o te Whare Pukapuka Turnbull. I'm very pleased to invite, Paul Diamond, curator Māori at the Alexander Turnbull Library, who represents us as one of the Friends as well as being a former recipient of a research grant and a former founder speaker to start tonight's event with a mihi.

    Paul Diamond: Tēnā tatou. He hōnore he kororia, he maungārongo ki runga i te mata o te whenua, he whakaaro pai ki ngā tāngata katoa. Ki ngā mate kua hinga i te toki o Aituā, haere koutou ki te moana nui, te rerenga o ngā waka i hoehoe ai e rātou mā ka ngaro i te tirohanga kanohi. Hoi anō. E mau tonu ana ki ngā tōpitopito o te ngakau.

    Apiti hono tātai hono rātou te hunga mate ki a rātou. Āāpiti hono tātai hono tatou te hunga ora ki a tatou katoa. Kua whakarauika tatou i tēnei ruma ataahua kei te papa e kīa nei ko Tiakiwai. Ko Tiakiwai tētahi o ngā awa iti e rere atu ki te moana ki waho, ki te Whanganui a-Tara. Ko Te Ahumairangi te ingoa o te papa kei runga rā. Koirā te hiwi kei kōrā.

    Nā reira, ngā mana whenua o te rohe nei, ngā tāngata o te raukura, Taranaki whānui ki Te Ūpoko o te Ika, ka nui anō te mihi ki a koutou katoa. Ka mihi hoki ki ngā kaiwhakahaere o te pō, Kate, me tō tira, me tō Komiti, tēnā koutou katoa. Koutou rā ngā tino hoa o ngā kohikohinga kōrero kei te whare pukapuka Arekahānara Huripuru, Alexander Turnbull. Ka mihi hoki ki te kaupapa o te pō tēnei kauhau. Ia tau ia tau ka tū he kauhau hei whakanui i a Arekahānara Huripuru Alexander Turnbull.

    Tēnei tau ka mihi ki a koee te hoa Anne kōrua ko Jeremy. Ki a koe Anne e te rangatira, te tino kairangahau, nau mai anō kōrua ki te whare pukapuka nei. Nā mātou te hōnore ka taea e koe te haramai ki te whakawhiti ōu whakaaro e pā ana ki tēnei kaupapa o te whakapapa, me te hītori hoki. Nā reira, ka nui te mihi ki a koutou katoa kua whakarauika mai i te pō nei.

    Kia ora everyone just to summarise what I've just said. I was just acknowledging first of all those who've passed as we do in a mihimihi in Māori, bringing us back to the realm of the living to us. Also acknowledging the people who've made tonight happen. Acknowledging where we are in this library on land of the mana whenua, Taranaki whanui.

    This floor is named Tiakiwai after one of the streams that runs into the harbour. Te Ahumairangi where you'll be afterwards is named after the hill just above us. And just acknowledging these are tohu whenua of the mana whenua on whose land this library is built.

    And this year we're honoured as I've said to have, Dame Anne Salmond, here and I'm very much looking forward to hearing her kōrero and whakapapa and history. Just back quickly to you Kate. Tēnā tatou.

    Kate Fortune: Kia ora, Paul. On Friday 28, June 1918, nearly 103 years ago. A dedicated and successful book collector Alexander Horsburgh Turnbull, died in hospital, less than half a kilometre away from this auditorium. Just three months before his 50th birthday.

    Under the terms of his will his vast collection of some 55,000 books, along with drawings, prints, paintings, maps, photographs, manuscripts, was bequeathed to his majesty the King. It was to be kept as a public reference library in Wellington, to form the nucleus of a New Zealand national collection known today, of course, as the Alexander Turnbull Library. The beating heart of the National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa.

    The Friends of Turnbull Library were established in 1939, to support and promote the work of the library. For many years we've held an annual Founder Lecture to recognise the huge generosity of that man who gave his library to the nation. But tonight's Founder Lecture is a particularly special event. It's been postponed twice because of COVID-19. And it is in fact the 2020 Founder Lecture. And in the long-standing tradition of acknowledging exceptional scholars, who have used the collections of Turnbull Library for their research, and who continue to draw on Turnbull material for their books.

    We were particularly delighted when we managed to persuade distinguished professor, Dame Anne Salmond, from the University of Auckland, to present the 2020 lecture. As you will know in this year's New Year's honours list Dame Anne was awarded New Zealand's highest honour: The Order of New Zealand. She is a wonderful teller of tales, as well as a talented historian, a fine anthropologist, and a deeply committed environmentalist. Her books have won prizes and are massively popular.

    Tonight, her topic is Knowledge is a Blessing on our Minds: Whakapapa, Science and History. We'll hear about one of her current projects which has drawn her to reflect on the relationships between history and science, as well as between mātauranga and wānanga.

    Tonight's vote of thanks will be given by the chief librarian of the Alexander Turnbull Library, Chris Szekely. We'll not be inviting questions after Dame Anne's lecture. And I ask you not to come down and waylay her here. We're all going to move out, and upstairs, onto the ground floor of the library, to have a drink and something to eat, and an opportunity to talk there. Now, please join me in welcoming Dame Anne Salmond.

    (Applause)

    Dame Anne: Ko te wai e hora nei, Tiakiwai, ko te marae e takoto nei, ko koutou aku rangatira kua pae nei — Paul, Kate, Chris, koutou katoa, tēnā koutou tēnā koutou tēnā tatou.

    I thought I'd start tonight by talking about a project that I'm involved in with a team right now because it involves the Turnbull Library as well as engagements between Mātauranga and Wānanga and contemporary science in New Zealand history in the early 20th century.

    Our project, which is called Te Ao Hou – Transforming worlds in Aotearoa, focuses on the period when Apirana Ngata, Te Rangi Hīroa, Maui Pomare, and a cohort of other Te Aute old boys, guided by Sir James Carroll decided to change this country in ways that they hoped would allow Māori to survive and thrive. In order to achieve these aims they worked with a range of pākehā allies, including scholars and scientists. Although those relationships were never straightforward and quite often fraught.

    Visual

    Images of Apirana Ngata, Te Rangi Hīroa, Maui Pomare, James Carroll

    Audio

    Among their many initiatives were a series of ethnological expeditions that went out from the Dominion Museum to various Māori gatherings and communities around the country immediately after World War I. Initiated by Apirana Ngata, the brilliant politician and tribal leader from Tairāwhiti in December 1918, so right about the time of Turnbull's death. These expeditions were organised in collaboration with my own great grandfather James MacDonald, who then was the acting director of the Dominion Museum, so this talk is about whakapapa in more ways than one.

    Visual

    Images of Apirana Ngata, James McDonald, W.H.R.Rivers

    Audio

    It seems likely that the idea for these expeditions in the very first place was sparked by W.H.R. Rivers, who was a very famous psychologist and anthropologist at that time, who came to Wellington in 1915. Rivers had taken part in the 1898 to 1899, anthropological expedition from Cambridge University to the Torres Straits. Where they used film photography and wax cylinders to record local rituals and practices. So during this visit to Wellington, Rivers must have discussed these Torres Strait expeditions, and his genealogical method of research, which as we'll see captured Ngata's imagination.

    Ngata saw parallels with whakapapa as a scholarly device, and the potential of using cutting edge technologies to record tikanga Māori. And it has to be said that we're in the middle of COVID. Well, what they were facing at that particular moment in our history. It was just two months after the troops had started returning from World War I. We'd had huge losses during the war. But in those two months 9,000 New Zealanders died and many of them were Māori. So Ngata was terrified the tikanga indeed many of them would vanish with these experts.

    And they, Te Rangi Hīroa, Ngata, were very critical of much of the existing literature on Māori life. They wanted it to be more comprehensive, insightful, and accurate, from their point of view. Galvanised by the losses of all those tribal experts in the war and in the influenza pandemic, Ngata, decided that it was imperative to use cutting-edge technologies to record as many ancestral tikanga as possible.

    So in December 1918, he wrote to the Minister of Internal Affairs suggesting that film, photography, and wax cylinder recordings, should be used to capture the tonalities of the reo and the different dialects of te reo, poi, haka, and waiata, and that a large gathering that was going to be held very soon in his own electorate in Gisborne, would offer an ideal opportunity for some of this work.

    Visual

    Image of James McDonals and Joannes Andersen with a camera filming.

    Audio

    So soon afterwards James McDonald, who had served as government cinematographer, who was actually the first official filmmaker in the world, so New Zealand was ahead of the game with that technology, before joining the Dominion Museum he also wrote to the Secretary of Internal Affairs enthusiastically supporting Ngata's suggestion.

    So the first of these expeditions which involved MacDonald, who you see there is filmmaker and photographer, along with Johannes Andersen, who you also see there, who was the first Turnbull librarian, who was keen to study whai or string games, Māori string games and Māori music. And also Elsdon Best, the distinguished ethnologist, who at that time was working in the Dominion Museum. And they attended the Hui Aroha in Gisborne in 1919.

    This was a very large and inter-tribal gathering that was held to welcome home the soldiers, the Pioneer Battalion, the Māori soldiers, who had survived World War I. And Ngata's close friend and formerly his private secretary Raumoa Balneavis helped to organise the participation of the expedition in the hui. So he was in their choreographing the participation of these people in the Hui Aroha, you can see him there with Johannes Andersen and Elsdon Best.

    Visual

    Image of Johannes Andersen, Raumoa Baineavis and Esdon Best recording.

    Audio

    So Monty Soutar has actually written the chapter in our forthcoming book on the Hui Aroha. And of course, Monty, is the great authority on the Pioneer Battalion, but also the Māori Battalion World War II. And he's written a fantastic chapter on that particular expedition.

    The second expedition travelled to the official Māori welcome to the Prince of Wales in Rotorua in 1920, where Te Rangi Hīroa who'd during the war risen to become the second in command of the Pioneer Battalion. As you all know, I'm sure he was trained as a medical doctor, and then became a prominent Māori politician before enlisting and going off to fight. And he was a key organiser of this particular gathering.

    Visual

    Image of Aporo playing the nose flute for the expediditon team at the Hui Aroha, 1919.

    Audio

    Oh, yes, that's at the Hui Aroha one of McDonald’s photos and his wax cylinder recordings as well.

    Visual

    Image of Jim Shcuster with Tene Waitere carvings.

    Audio

    So, Jim Schuster, whose ancestor Tene Waitere, the very famous Ngāti Tarawhai carver. Carved a pou haki for the Prince, which has landed up now in Britain, at the University of Cambridge. And he's told the story of Tene, the carver. His participation in the carving of the pou haki but also his own travels to Britain to restore this flagpole. And it's a fantastic part of the book.

    Visual

    Pa Tuna, eel weirs on the Whanganui River, 1921.

    Audio

    And the third expedition, I've travelled up the Whanganui River in 1921, and they started out from Koriniti where Te Rangi Hīroa joined them. He was working in Māori health at that time having come back from the war. But he was moving towards becoming an anthropologist himself. And so he managed to kind of wangle it so his field trips to look at epidemics and so on coincided with the expeditions. And he did a brilliant job in Koriniti of recording things like — this is again, McDonald photos of the Eel Weirs on the river.

    Visual

    Rihipeti standing in a waka. The waka is on land.

    Audio

    Rihipeti, and we've been talking to a number of her descendants, fantastic woman. John Maihi describes her as very bossy. We're learning quite a lot about her. She was a prominent woman. Women feature a lot in these films, and in these photographs, and in the records. So Rihipeti weaving in Whanganui. Again, the whāriki that was stored up in the houses.

    Visual

    Woman weaving, and Mrs Pokai with whāriki (floor mat)

    Audio

    So Te Rangi Hīroa was a specialist in material culture. Fascinated with weaving. And he actually learned how to do a lot of these things himself even though a lot of these were women's arts really. But as a decorated soldier I guess he didn't feel any challenges to his masculinity in sitting down and doing weaving with the women.

    And he wrote an absolutely fantastic paper about weaving arising out of this expedition. So what was going on here was Te Rangi Hīroa, in particular kind of emerging as an anthropologist, but one with a particular interest in material culture. And Apirana organising each of these expeditions. We've got the letters where he writes and ask for the funding and for the Secretary of Internal Affairs to approve the expeditions.

    Visual

    Stick with string around the top being used to drill a stone.

    Audio

    So there's a wonderful set of photographs of life and the community.

    Visual

    Māori group standing outside an English church at Koriniti, Whanganui.

    Audio

    And some of you probably have seen the films, which have become a treasure of Ngā Taonga Sound and Vision, and they've been played all over the world, as well as in many of the tribal areas where the ancestors are being depicted. And in the Whanganui, one of the sequences I absolutely love is the whole village getting in and doing skipping. It's absolutely fantastic. And you can see the spirit of these films with the engagement it was possible because it was basically Apirana and Te Rangi Hīroa, who forged the relationships that made these recordings possible.

    Visual

    Paratene Ngata makiing tāruke koura | crayfish potfor Te Rangi Hīroa, Waiomatatini, 1923.

    Audio

    And during the fourth of the last of these expeditions, they went to Waiomatatini which was Apirana Ngata's own home. They stayed at the bungalow with Apirana's family. And his father Paratene actually was supervising them on horseback a lot at the time as they were recording. And you see him here with Peter Buck, as he was then usually called, but Te Rangi Hīroa, they were doing these wonderful crayfish pots and various kinds of traps. Again, for Te Rangi Hīroa because he was writing at that time about Māori netting. He was fascinated by all these traps and hīnaki. There's some of the nets that they photographed.

    Visual

    Two men standing at sea edge holding a huge net. Fishing for kahawai with scoop nets Tairāwhiti expedition, 1923.

    Audio

    And Natalie Robertson, the Ngāti Porou filmmaker and photographer, has written an amazing, very detailed chapter, a long chapter about this particular expedition because she's been able to talk with people like, Kiri Carr, Boyce Te Maro, various of the elders, whose ancestors these are about these images, and she herself as a filmmaker and photographer. So she's kind of perfectly placed to comment on a lot of this material.

    Visual

    Image of Mita Taupopoki, Te Arawa rangatira.

    Audio

    One of the things that's really interesting about Te Rangi Hīroa at this time was that he was also as a doctor. Very interested in physical anthropology and anthropometry. And you see all these shots that McDonald took at his direction of people face on and then sideways on, including many of the great ariki and rangatira — and here's Mita Taupopoki, he's a great Te Arawa leader — but this was for Te Rangi Hīroa, he had this interest at that time although he later gave it up and decided that material culture was far more interesting and rewarding.

    Visual

    Image of Apriana Ngata and Peter Buck at Waiomatatini, 1923.

    Audio

    But there they are Apirana and Te Rangi Hīroa with a tukutuku panel. It's quite a famous shot at Waiomatatini. Again, is a McDonald photo. So it's kind of uncanny when we look at these photographs and sort of realise that my great-grandfather is invisible, but he’s there behind the camera and behind the lens.

    And by this expedition they've all got to know each other pretty well. They referred to my great-grandfather as Mac. They called Johannes Andersen Tarawhai because he was always doing string games. Actually, they sort of teased him a lot at Waiomatatini, he had a bit of a penchant for young girls actually. We were slightly terrified to discover when we read his journals, but anyway, I mean, obviously they teased him a lot and thought it was rather amusing. And Elsdon Best was Pehi, so they kind of all got to know each other pretty well. But as I say the relationships were not straightforward all the same as we'll see.

    So as far as we know with our whole team, so Wayne Ngata has written the preface for the book because obviously there's a very close connection there with Apirana. And Arapata Hakiwai’s writing one too. I went back into my files and realised that Arapata and I had exchanged letters about this project precisely 30 years ago. So even though this lecture is a little bit delayed is not delayed by 30 years, which is what happened to me and Arapata. He was then the Māori curator at Te Papa and now of course he's Māori leader at Te Papa so it's fantastic.

    But as far as we know, these are the first expeditions of their kind in the world to have been initiated by indigenous leaders for their own purposes. And it was very much as we'll see, and when you hear the wax cylinder recordings, the people are addressing the horn. Speaking into the horn often giving a Whai-kōrero and saying, I'm giving these taonga, hei taonga mā ngā uri whakatipu, as treasures for the rising generations. The generations to come. So it was very purposeful enterprise.

    Visual

    Three Māori men fishing with a net in the Waiapu River, 1923.

    Audio

    This is quite funny because my great-grandfather had to get up and roll his pants up. They all were rolling up their pants and getting their boots wet in the river. And there's Te Rangi Hīroa sort of organising things what you don't see there is Paratene Ngata on the horse telling them all what to do because he was the kaumātua in charge, very much so. There they are on the veranda of the bungalow — again, another McDonald photo — with Elsdon Best, Paratene Ngata on this side here, and Iehu Nukunuku, who played a kōauau for them on the Bungalow in 1923.

    Visual

    Iehu Nuhunuku, Elsdon Best and Paratenen Ngata on the veranda at the Bungalow,1923.

    Audio

    And here's the horn that they were all talking into.

    Visual

    Elsdon Best, Iehu Nukunuku and Te Rangi Hīroa recording at the Bungalow 1923

    Audio

    It was really, really interesting to see this. The way in which people embraced this technology. Some people really took to it and performed lots of haka and songs. And karakia all sorts of amazing material that they decided to record for future generations. The films are very well known, the wax cylinders not so. So when people hear those the voices of their own ancestors, it's very special.

    Visual

    Image of Peter Buck and words "As you said in your last we start off with the atmosphere. The Polynesian corpuscles carry us beyound the barrier that takes a Pakeha some time to scale and the key of speech cuts out some other months. The plaiting techniques of Wanganui, the net strokes of Waiapu etc. etc. cuts out one or two more months that Stokes will not allow for. I will be pleased to think that the Board's first venture in Polynesian research, will compare favourable with the Bishop Museum publications ..." Peter Buck to Ngata Rarotonga 20 September, 1926. In ed. Sorrenson 1986 Vol 1:45-46.

    Audio

    As I've mentioned Te Rangi Hīroa was getting ready he was getting ready for an international career in anthropology. He was recruited by the Bishop Museum in Hawaii, and Natalie and Billie Lythberg from our team went there and looked into the Te Rangi Hīroa archive there, which is big, including lots of the photos from the expeditions. So he was shaping a lot of what the photographs and films recorded. But Ngata had this passion for the decorative and oral arts. And so, again, MacDonald was photographing whakairo, tukutuku, and also they were recording lots of mōteatea that eventually Apirana Ngata drew upon when he was writing the volumes of Ngā Mōteatea.

    So they're often referred to — it's the same one that is in the books. And Elsdon Best, he was pretty old and quite frail by this time, so he wasn't much of a force on the expeditions. But we do have some of his field notebooks. And he was the most fluent speaker of the non-Māori participants by far. And so his field notebooks are full of little details about fishing and all sorts of place names going right up the Whanganui River naming a lot of the power on the river. There's lots of really interesting beautiful little details in his notebooks.

    Johannes Andersen of course, was doing the string games, and he was trying to make sense of Māori music. And there was a little bit of vying going on because Api obviously was a great expert on mōteatea and yet Johannes Andersen as the Pākehā scholar was writing about Māori music, which he couldn't perform and he couldn't speak Māori. So you can sort of see in some of the commentaries that Api was quite sceptical.

    A lot of these records, including Andersen's and Best's field diaries ended up in the Turnbull Library. And Paul it's been great working with you and trying to track down all that material. While the films that were originally in the Dominion Museum they ended up in Ngā Tonga Sound and Vision where they were restored in the '80s and then taken around the world. And they've been shown in lots of marae around the country. Lots of people have seen these films. The very first time I saw them was actually when Te Māori was brought back from America.

    The exhibition of Māori carving that was taken overseas, and they had a big screening at St. James as part of the program celebrating the return of Te Māori. And my mom and me, and our daughter Amirea we all went to see them. So the three of us the descendants of McDonald sort of turned up.

    And it was an amazing occasion because Whina Cooper was there, and Dame Te Ata Te Atairangikaahu was there, a whole bunch of people. These silent movies that were being narrated in a really beautiful way by a former Māori actress, who became absolutely fantastic in that role. And yeah, the theatre was just full of people calling out and laughing. You wouldn't know they were silent films. You realise that movies actually quell the audience whereas these ones let them all just go for it.

    And so it is a really interesting thing to see that the McDonald photos and there's lots of them are in Te Papa. It's a very large collection, and luckily they've now been given high-res digital copies have been taken of them because they were degrading. They’re nitrate films, and negatives, and things degrade over time, so they have been made. And the same thing with the wax cylinders. Every time you play a wax cylinder it degrades, it cuts the wax, and the fineness of the recording is kind of muffled a bit. And so those have now been digitised and transcribed and catalogued by The Archive of Māori and Pacific Music at the University of Auckland.

    And then my great, great aunt Marjorie McDonald donated a fantastic album of photographs. And this was so good when we were doing the research with Sandy Nepia and John Maihi on the Whanganui images, of which there are a lot. And we had to try and get them in the right order. And the best way of doing that was from the album because it was put by, I think, probably by McDonald himself, in the order that he took them on the river as he went from Koroniti went up to Hiruharama and then ended up at Pipiriki. And she also gave a lot of stuff to the Hocken.

    The fact that these things have been held and kept — almost lost in many cases. The wax cylinders almost lost. The films had degraded quite a lot by the time Ngā Taonga restored them. Quite a few of the photographs we don't have anymore because the negatives have degraded. But they've kept an amazing repository of information, and so many ancestors’ voices, faces, tikanga, the sound of the reo back then, that's all there in these records as Api intended and the people that actually did the recordings as well.

    It was really moving for me. People often talk about museums and how they have these family treasures. Turned out that McDonald had a kaitaka that was given to him by Paitini at the Hui Aroha. Paitini who's a very important Tūhoe elder and a friend of Elsdon Best, and that's now in the Otago Museum. So I had a lovely time not so long ago going down to see that with the curator. The Māori curator down at Otago.

    And Te Rangi Hīroa he had this amazing photo index of material culture from all over Polynesia, that he built up over the years in the Bishop Museum in Honolulu, and Hawaii. A lot of the McDonald photos are there, but with Te Rangi Hīroa's field notes. So we know who these people were from his field notes when we don't always know from any other source. But he also describes — and we've got these beautiful sequences of people weaving, making crayfish pots, and so on, done to his directions obviously — and then he's recorded the sequence of events in these note cards.

    So he went there not that long after the last of the expeditions. He went on an expedition with the Bishop Museum in 1926, landed up in Hawaii in 1927, and never really came home when he visited.

    Ngata always hoped he would become a professor of Māori anthropology in Aotearoa. But that chair was never created, so he stayed. He became a professor at Yale instead.

    And Natalie Robertson and Billie, from our research team. Actually the Hawaiian curators gave them permission to take digital records of that archive while they were there in 2018.

    So professor, Linda Smith, who many of you will know, has written extensively about research in te ao Māori. Speaking in 2010, to an audience of Māori archivists and curators made the point that ancestral taonga are often scattered and fragmented. They found their way into different sorts of collections because of the kinds of so-called objects that they are. And she says that bits and pieces all over the place and we need to reconnect them, and reconnect them to the people to make us whole again, she said.

    They had been scattered, they've been fragmented, these little bits and pieces, all over the world in some cases. So that's one of the things that we've been most intent on in this project is trying to find all the taonga that were collected of whatever kind during the expeditions. And then organise them so that the descendants have easy access to them, and know what's actually there because quite often this material is quite difficult to find and to know. Quite a lot of the archival records are not accurate we've discovered as well, wrong names and that sort of thing.

    So it's been really fascinating doing that kind of humpty dumpty type of research, and we've all loved it. We've had such a lot of fun doing this. It's a real scholarly kind of taking bits from here and there as Paul, and others will know. And finding a whole life and a whole series of lives kind of tangled up behind these records.

    And the thing that I've also been really fascinated by because in a way is very current is to hear Te Rangi Hīroa and Apirana Ngata, and when I call him Api it's because Eruera Stirling always used to call him Api, he was mentored by Apirana. And then I was fortunate to have a close working relationship and personal relationship with him and Amiria for many years. So Api and Te Rangi Hīroa, as scholar politicians, soldiers, they were extraordinary people. I mean, just absolutely extraordinary when you know that Apirana was the first New Zealander to get a double degree in law. And his first article was published when he was 18. You know, I've read his first article it's fantastic.

    He was composing poetry and sort of having that published when he was first at University, and he was young when he first went off to University. They were brilliant, both of them. And they were talking about Western history and Western science a lot in their exchanges. They were really struggling because they were dealing with people who were being proclaimed as the experts, and having to deal with that from their own vantage point of people who were deeply immersed in trying to understand and master a lot of these taonga for themselves as descendants.

    And they talked a lot about anthropology, which is my own discipline, because that was something that kind of both fascinated, and I would have to say probably repelled them, at that time. And they really were very dissatisfied with the way in which it depicted Te ao Māori. And so I've got some quotes that I want to share with you because they could be ones that are being said today. So this is Te Rangi Hīroa writing to Ngata, he'd gone off to the Cook Islands with the Bishop Museum on his first field expedition as a budding anthropologist. Having already been second in command of the Māori Battalion, and an MP, and before that a doctor.

    He said, “As you said in your last we start off with the atmosphere. The Polynesian corpuscles take us beyond the barrier that takes a pākehā some time to scale, and the key of speech cuts out some other months. Then the plaiting techniques of Wanganui” — so he's referring to that expedition — “the net strokes of Waiapu” – so that's the East Coast expedition – “cuts out one or two more months that Stokes,” who was the leader of the Bishop Museum, “would not allow for. I will be pleased to think that the Board's first venture into Polynesian research, will compare favourably with the Bishop Museum publications.”

    So they were already sort of pitting themselves against global anthropology not just local anthropology. And as that evolved, and he was getting more and more involved with various professors from not just America, but Britain as well. Te Rangi Hīroa had a lot to do with British anthropology as well as American anthropology. And he say, "I've worked up to the stage I'm dissatisfied with myself and want to be the best to do the best work of which I'm capable. And this lies in the field of anthropology." So this is a man saying, I've found my life's work.

    "The past has gradually trained me for it. I think the time is now ripe when I should devote myself entirely to it and keep up our reputation in this branch of scientific work. I can more than hold my own with other workers in the Polynesian field. It's right and fitting that the highest branch of the Polynesian race” — so here he is not without his own kind of yeah, well, as we'll see with Api as well, “Should be in the forefront and not leave the bulk of the investigations to workers who haven't got the inside angle that we have. They miss things that are significant to us."

    So this is a critique that's, this is way back in 1927, and as I say it could be today easily. These two were corresponding backwards and forwards as soon as Te Rangi Hīroa went off to Hawaii. They were just trying to work things out between them, the global world of anthropology on the one hand, local politics in New Zealand on the other. And for Apirana, it was all about the survival of te ao Māori and the Māori people. Feeling that, that was totally, totally at risk.

    Visual

    "I have now to square up to your very high opinion of my capacity to write in English on the social organisationof the Māori. I am testing this out for my own satisfaction in a paper on "The Application of the Genealogical Method to early New Zealand History" for the Wellington branch of the Historical Association. It is an endeavoru to justify the pleas that collecitons of Māori whakapapa should rank with other material among the archives.

    W.H.R. Rivers wrote of the Social Organisation of the Tores St. people, basing all his findings on extremely scrappy genealogical tables. If he had struck folk like the Māoris, whose education for the most part consisted of memorizing and coordinating whakapapa what a noise he would of made with them in the scientific world! Rivers' estimate of the part that New Zealand should take in carrying out a full ethnographic survey of the native races under its rule should be acted up to.

    Engari kei hea he kai mahi mo tenei mo tenei maara? Ma tetahi tino tohunga rawa e whakarapopoto nga take kua kaupapa i te tina tangata kua tuhituhi nei mo taua mo te Māori me te whakaatu ki te ao i nga wahi tahapa o ena, me te waiho tahapa o ena me te waiho i nga wahi e matapouri ana.

    (Wiremu Parker's translation: "Be where is the specialist for this undertaking? It calls for an exceptional scholar to write a synopsis of the knowledge that has been written down by many people about us the Māori and it should contain a critique so that the world would know the inaccuracies, the inadequacies and doubts about some of the writings.")

    Ngata to Peter Buck Waiomatatini 23 June 1928. In ed. Sorrenson 1986 Vol 1:102-105

    Audio

    And he decided that he would write a DLit — he decided with Te Rangi Hīroa's encouragement — that he would do a PhD on the social organisation of the Māori. But what he wanted to do was to work on Rivers’ idea of the genealogical method, but it wasn't anything to do with the genealogical method really it was about whakapapa. And he wanted to apply it to New Zealand history which again is something really topical right now.

    And he says that the historians have to recognise that whakapapa is a major resource for understanding the history of this country before Europeans arrived and since. And he compares what he is doing with what Rivers wrote about the Torres Strait’s genealogies. And he was very critical of the material the genealogical tables that Rivers had collected. He said they were very scrappy, and if only they'd been working with Māori with their mastery of whakapapa they would have been able to do something quite amazing.

    And then he says, and he's saying as a Māori sometimes they write mostly in English to each other but then they burst into Māori every now and then when they've got a really important point to make. And I'll just quote it in English, "Where is the specialist for this undertaking? Calls for an exceptional scholar to write a synopsis of the knowledge that's been written down by many people about us Māori and it should contain a critique so the world would know the inaccuracies, the inadequacies, and the doubts, about some of the writings." So this was Ngata writing, and he was in the process of writing this amazing manuscript on whakapapa.

    OK, looks like my slides have come on after they petered out. There we are. It's just a blank one there. So what they were sort of talking about with each other was how can we do this better? How can we draw on the deep knowledge that we have as inheritors of this mātauranga, this wānanga, and what will it mean for this particular discipline of anthropology? And this is what, how Te Rangi Hīroa responded to Ngata's kind of plea, if you like. He was saying, "He the anthropologist” — talking about anthropologists in particular — “is a collector with bottles ready labelled and everything must go in one or other of these bottles, the bottle that has been labelled in the University classroom and not in the field that the labeller never saw."

    So he's talking about armchair anthropology in particular which was very common. And then again goes into Māori, "It's you and I who have to separate the items and sort them into each basket. It's you and I who must weave a new basket for the items with which it would be wrong to place them. Who of the Pākehā would dare to say to us, ‘your destroying of this food is wrong’." Just meaning, the work that you've done is incorrect or inaccurate. So he's writing back again from Hawaii in that way.

    So their critiques, I think, they're really very contemporary and very penetrating. Their discontent really focused on the way in which Western science and in the form of anthropology was dividing te ao Māori up into categories like religion, mythology. They had notes and queries. They were both reading voraciously in the anthropological literature, and they were reading notes and queries in anthropology and says if you go and look at that document which was the Bible for fieldworkers in the 1920s. Religion, mythology, superstition, law, agriculture, et cetera, et cetera, based on Western ways of understanding reality rather than Māori framings radically distorting te ao Māori in the process which was the point that they kept on making to each other.

    So Ngata's response to this was extraordinary totally predictable I suppose because he was a master of te reo. But when they were in Hawaii Natalie and Billie found the missing half of a manuscript half of which is in the Turnbull, which Ngata had written to Te Rangi Hīroa, when he was working on a lecture he was going to give here in Wellington to the Historical Association on the genealogical method in New Zealand history. And he wrote this for Te Rangi Hīroa when you read the typed script. It's clear that it was written for Te Rangi Hīroa. But he was asking himself how did those old wānanga experts manage to master this vast array of information? That they could hold in their minds, on place names, whakapapa, all the ramifications of tribal genealogies, alliances, marriages, battles, adoptions the whole gamut of oral history.

    And what he did was he delved into te reo to come up with answers about how they achieved this feat of memory. And I remember when I was young and traveling around to different marae with Eruera in the car, with Amiria as well. But Eruera is wānanga trained expert he would have just sort of this multi-dimensional matrix of some amazing kind in his mind where he could just — we're going off to a hui, and he'd think, ‘He aha te kupu’, what’s the kaupapa of this hui, how do I relate to those people? What are the things that bind us together? What are the things that have maybe been controversies in the past? What more moteatea goes with that? What tauparapara?

    And in the car there'll be this kind of wānanga happening as he sort of got himself ready to stand on the marae as a really very well-known orator and speak. And so Ngata was saying that the terms of te reo that he came up with when he was talking. He sat down with some of these old whakapapa experts and asked them to describe the different techniques for reciting whakapapa. And one of them was a takiaho which means to string fish on the line. And we've actually got a photograph. I haven't got it here today, but a McDonald photo of people holding up fish that they'd caught, and they'd strung on a line. And the aho was the line of descent and the fish are the various ancestors. So that's when you're tracing a direct line of descent is the takiaho but you're also thinking of this kind of fishing device.

    Visual

    Image of kauwhata or feasting stage.

    Audio

    The kauwhata though, these old feasting stages they used to build. These are great big, complex, horizontal, and vertical structures. And you'd display different types of food on them when you were running a great big hakari for some major occasion. But what a whakapapa expert would do is array the ancestors like that and display them for a particular purpose.

    So the sort of thing that Eruera was doing tracing along and then coming down and then going side. But displaying all that information for a particular recital for a particular kaupapa was the kauwhata.

    Visual

    Image of ridge pole in a marae. Relational cosmos, defined by whakapapa, Rangiatea marae.

    Audio

    And then the tahuhu he talks about, which is the ridge pole of the house. But also the main line of descent and then the heke which are the subsidiary lines coming down with the rafters and then landing on the poupou which are particular ancestors, that this is another way of.

    And when I read that I was thinking some wonderful books on the old Greek and medieval memory theatres they called them, or memory palaces. And they were kind of architectural mnemonic devices where somebody who was mastering a lot of material orally would array in their mind this kind of memory palace and have things stored on different levels, and in different places in this palace. And it seems to me that’s a sort of thing that's going on here, which helps to explain the huge amount of information that these people could hold in memory and check it with each other.

    So he says, Te Rangi Hīroa, we can trace incidents or personnel strung on the line, the takiaho, or we could hang them on a hakari stage, or from the first weft in the garment when we’re weaving a garment, that's also the tahuhu is when you're weaving as well. So this works with weaving as well or the ridge pole of a house, or uncovering the layers of stored information and thatching.

    And you can imagine how Te Rangi Hīroa with his deep knowledge of a lot of these technologies and Ngata were having a huge amount of fun with each other sort of seeing how these elders managed to — and it's the idea, the forms of order, the sequence he says. Pervading all is the idea of order, sequence, and arrangement. And in boastful mood there's a suggestion of dressing or adornment of lifting pedigrees out of the ruck. So this is a way of — whakapapa is an art form.

    Visual

    Image if Michael Parekowhai digital art and carving of double spiral.

    Audio

    Again, this is a sort of contemporary version of this, with Michael Parekowhai playing with kowhaiwhai. But the double spiral as Pei Jones, who was a junior colleague of Ngata's, and they worked together quite a lot in Ngata's later years, came up with this, again from some of the wānanga experts, of the double spiral as being a kind of recapitulation in carving, or indeed on the skin, of the old cosmological chants that were taught in the whare wānanga.

    And they start with the beginnings of the universe, and go to thought, and memory, and desire, which is really interesting, that's the next thing. The first surge of energy then thought and memory and desire. And then wānanga or knowledge itself comes before the world itself starts to take shape. Before Rangi and Papa, the winds of growth and in some of these beautiful cosmological chants, the winds of tupu and ora blowing life into the cosmos and then you get sky and earth Rangi and Papatūānuku and then you get the ancestors of the forests, and the sea, and the winds, and then people, turn up on the scene. And this is the double spiral.

    This is sort of a depiction according to Pei of that particular way of seeing time you can go diving into the heart of it and then spin out again right into the present. As a lot of those experts did.

    Visual

    Black and white double spiral.

    Audio

    And you see this still happening this Brett Graham’s beautiful play with the double spirals. He took this out of Pei’s manuscripts actually and turned it into a video art form, playing with these ideas.

    Visual

    Photo of Tuho's Te Kura Whare — living building.

    Audio

    So what I would like to do — well, hang on maybe I'll just show the Kura Whare, too. This is Tūhoe’s way of sort of bringing into contemporary life this whole idea of the house, the living house, as the embodiment of the people, and their knowledge. And they say a symbol of their story a representation of their origins and iwi, their present and their future.

    So double carved houses, double spirals, ramifying networks of kinship that include land, and waterways, and mountains, and plants, and animals, and then finally, people, all in just one great huge net of kinship and decent.

    And it's really interesting to very briefly compare this with some Western forms of order. So one that I return to over and over again because I think it's so germane and pivotal is the Great Chain of Being, which is a very old. Again, originally came from the Greeks, but then in medieval times became a very important cosmological idea in the West.

    And it describes the world as a kind of timeless cosmic hierarchy with God at the top, and then you go through the ranks of the archangels, and the angels, and you come down to the divine King or monarch, then you go through the ranks of the aristocracy, the commoners, and then you go from all those civilised people to so-called barbarians, and then savages, and then sentient animals, like apes and so on, in the great chain of being, and then you go down to the non-sentient animals, and you end up with Papatūānuku right at the bottom rocks and that sort of thing.

    And in the great chain of being everything at the bottom of the chain offers up tribute and obedience to everything higher up. So it's the origins of know your place.

    It was men above women and children, and as you can see it's in the great chain as well. And when you think about this what a perfect mythic underpinning for things like imperialism, white supremacy, slavery, the class system, sexism, trickle down economics, the 1% and the 99%, the idea of the environment as a resource for human extraction, resource management, ecosystem services, the earth offering up its services to humankind.

    This whole God is just above human beings and human beings are right at the top, especially the divine kings and so on. The origins of sovereignty actually, in this model as well. Ideas of sovereignty.

    And in the 18th century, the arrow of time was added to this model it was kind of laid on its side. And time was run through it a lineal model of time not like the double spiral. And this generated social evolutionary models that started with so-called primitive hunters and gatherers, ran to pastoralist to agriculturalist, and then to civilised industrial society as the top, the highest, or most recent, most advanced form. And these are sort of underlying motifs of you like these forms of order that Api was looking at in Māori, you can also look at them in the West.

    And you can see how incredibly resilient they are because they are very ancient, and also that they have this capacity to spread and go viral. And Te Rangi Hīroa, when you read his letters he sometimes talks about the higher culture when he's talking about the West that's where he's getting it from. It does go viral.

    Whereas Apirana was a really good Ngati and would never grant supremacy to anyone else. And in parliament he once remarked, "My judgment of the British race is that it is the finest race on Earth, probably as good as the Māori." So this was part of his impatience with Elsdon Best who totally accepted social evolutionary models and believed that Māori were in the process of dying out and really basically believed that until he himself died.

    So in a lecture on the genealogical method that was delivered to the Wellington branch of the Historical Association in 1927. There's the typescript which is in the Turnbull. Thank you so much Turnbull. We wouldn't know very much about these men and the worlds they've had to deal with, and women because women are also a very important part of this story. Ngata tackled social evolutionary theory head on. It's really cool to read what he said.

    He said, he was talking about Condliffe. J. B. Condliffe had just published A Short History of New Zealand and the preface was written by a historian called Dr Hight and he had written that, "New Zealand was really interesting because in the first place the development of human society is in to a certain degree epitomised on the history of New Zealand. The hunting and fishing stages of primitive man are, inter alia, illustrated by the life of the Māori's and the pastoral agricultural industrial stages have succeeded in overlaying each other so rapidly in New Zealand that a surviving pioneer or one of our early settlers has witnessed in his own lifetime the economic and general social development that has occupied centuries in the lands of the old world."

    So, sort of seeing the history of our country after European arrival is a kind of very rapid run through of social evolutionary theory. And Ngata was very acerbic, I mean, it's really interesting to see how he wrote and talked, he said, “Hight has left the impression, at least in my mind, that after serving to illustrate certain stages in the development of primitive man the Māori people passed out of the living picture finding no place in the crowded development of a century."

  • Transcript — part 2

    Dame Anne: And then he admonished the Historical Association for leaving Māori out of the nation's story, or else treating them as — and he said, "This association should avoid the common error of studying the Māori merely as a museum object. And dismissing him from the story of New Zealand as it was today and as it will be tomorrow. A learned professor left New Zealand lately after publishing a historical sketch of the country” — I think, it might have been Condliffe — “in other lands he was asked, what contribution if any the Māori race had made to the economic progress of New Zealand? Like a candidate in the examination room who has not crammed the particular topic, he found himself unable to answer except in the most general way. I mention this to exemplify an attitude, not uncommon in the highest ranks of research, the impatience of the white settler together with the aloofness of University trained intellect, combines to affect the focus of the most friendly investigator.”

    So he was making his points and making them fairly head on.

    So just to go quickly into some very contemporary issues given this kind of framing Ngata thought very, very deeply about the history of our country. And he researched its whakapapa as we can see in huge depth and detail he published Rauru-nui-a-toi lectures on Ngati Porou tribal history. But a lot of whakapapa and so on. He studied the Mōteatea and all the historical information in those.

    And he was arguing with the historians that they really must regard this as kind of valid and important historical information. And that this scholarly tradition of the wānanga was something that they shouldn't ignore. And in order to work with this material, you needed to study the reo. And you couldn't investigate Māori realities without it, past or present, and I think this is a critique that still pertinent to the training of New Zealand historians today.

    So what would he think of the draft curriculum? I asked myself, and I thought well, I wish he was here obviously for himself because I'm sure he would deliver a very learned and kind of interesting commentary on the whole issue about how we teach New Zealand history in schools to our kids. And I think he would be very happy with some of the framing. There are key framings for example, whakapapa and whanaungatanga, well that would be right up his alley. That's what he was arguing for back in 1927. Turangawaewae and Kaitiakitanga, yep, that would be right up his — he was very much about the care of local landscapes and fascinated by land. And Te Tiriti again something he wrote about for himself in his own time.

    So I think he'd be he'd say those were interesting and valid ways of focusing the draft curriculum. But I think he'd also find gaps, and, I think, he would also probably want to be asking that the framers dive even deeper into Māori conceptions of whakapapa, to inform the framing of the curriculum. Because it's interesting when you look at his sketch of New Zealand history it starts with life back in the homelands as this one does. And then traces successive migrations to this country, including those from Europe and elsewhere.

    So with whakapapa when the Europeans turn up, they turn up in the whakapapa, if they marry in or there they are, there's no great big announcement that says, Captain Cook has arrived and, lo and behold, there's a new world begun. It’s basically there's a pākehā ancestor in there and this line, in that line, and the other line, and they're there when they arrive.

    And you find that he was fascinated by the way in which these relationships evolve through time. Very critical of aspects of it but always fascinated. So he talks about the European explorers, he talks about the whalers and the sealers, and then the treaty, and then the arrival of settlers from Europe and elsewhere, en masse. Talks about the wars, the New Zealand wars, and the world wars, and right into the future. So he's out into the future before you know it. And always thinking about the future when he's talking about the past.

    And it's interesting when you look at the draft curriculum at the moment it’s got a whole strand on migration. The migrants come from Polynesia from Hawaiki and so on, and then all of a sudden there's a sort of bare mention that there might be some more people that have turned up and then we're talking about urban migration and Māori to the cities. I think what's interesting about that is it's a bit different from the way that Ngata framed it. He was, I think, intellectually really interested in studying the relationship as it evolved through time and finding ways of trying to understand the dynamics in ways that were sharply critical a lot of the time but also acknowledged that a lot of these people were in the whakapapa.

    And he castigated New Zealand historians for treating Māori as barbarians and savages and rightly so, and for leaving them out of the story. And it would be kind of tempting if you like just to flip the tables and do it the other way around but that's not the way that, for example, someone like Eruera and many people will know this from their own family whakapapa too. Duncan Stirling, William Stirling, back to Scotland. Very interested in the homelands that weren't just the ones in the Pacific.

    So I think, it's really interesting to think about the power of the past and the way we frame it. And the way we deal with our own ancestors, but also those of others, I think has a huge amount to the way we treat their descendants and the present and always has done, that's the power of History. And there's a literary scholar Geoffrey Harpham who said, "We confront not just our ancestors but our own capacity for determining who our ancestors were and thus for determining who we are and might become. This capacity should be treated like fire with great respect for its power to create and to destroy."

    And the way in which we do this I think is really, really important. And Ngata as a scholar, politician, passionate, passionate advocate for his people engaged with those issues head on. And it was very practical for him. I think he was talking about the survival of te ao Māori and the survival of Māori people as Māori. That's what he was fighting for his whole life and his whole career.

    And he wrote to Te Rangi Hīroa, and said, "I think in moments of introspection you and I, and Balneavis, and others, would have to acknowledge that our hearts are not in this policy of imposing pākehā culture forms” – so he's talking about culture forms – “on our people. Our recent activities would indicate a contrary determination to preserve the old culture forms as the foundation on which to reconstruct Māori lives and hopes." And that’s in the 1920s.

    So I think he would find common cause with a lot of what's happening in Aotearoa at the moment. I think he'd be right there with the framers of the Te Awa Tupua Act when the Whanganui people insisted that their ancestor was a Tupuna, a living being with its own life and rights and kind of intentions and the Urewera settlement and the Urewera act where Tūhoe did the same thing and refused to regard their land as property. Refused to adopt a Western framing and saying the Urewera owns itself, those kind of arguments.

    I'm sure he would insist on the study of te reo as a prerequisite for the study of the training of any New Zealand historian. And he'd be there with scholars like Jacinta Ruru and Aroha Harris, and the [INAUDIBLE], Monty, Dan, Linda and Graham Smith, Paul and others, and a burgeoning younger generation, who are arguing for, insisting, that wānanga tikananga, Māori ways of knowing, are built into the frameworks of our scholarly enterprise and our scientific enterprises in New Zealand.

    Giving us new ways of thinking of framing not just the past but without these ramifying models relational models that you see in whakapapa kind of the way in which they echo for example with complex systems theory and a lot of these new scientific ideas, so-called — there’s new thinking that we can — are doing in New Zealand many people are doing it. Interrogating the past and trying to imagine new kinds of futures.

    Visual

    Euera and Amiria Stirling.

    Audio

    So Eruera and Amiria, and you see there's Ngata right over his shoulder in this house that was Eruera's living room. And that was the relationship he had with that kaumātua. He and Amiria talked a lot about Ngata, they both kind of admired him hugely. And Eruera who trained in the old wānanga tradition he's the one that said, "Knowledge is a blessing on your mind it makes everything clear and guides you to do things in the right ways."

    And I think this applies for example to the way we think about our relationships with the living world around us. The cosmological chances I mentioned, this is the first surge of energy. And then you get thought, and memory, and desire, then knowledge. And then the winds of growth, and life, blow through the cosmos and then phenomenal reality starts to take shape and then you get the plants and the animals. Ranginui and Papatūānuku, the plants, the animals, the rivers, the ocean, and people, all interlocked as kin.

    And there's this human beings turning up relatively late in the story of how the world has taken shape. And their migrations across Te Moananui were being traced along with subsequent migrations around local landscapes, as in the new curriculum. Europeans turned up in Aotearoa when they arrive in this story and there's an interest in their homelands too and how they made their journeys.

    And I think if our children learn to think about the history of our country in this way. Without the existential arrogance that places human beings just below God and above all other life forms and the world itself, the living world itself, defining it as resources to be managed for human purposes to serve us as people and organise as human communities and top down ways that's where you can see inequality has also got its underpinnings in these models.

    I think, we'd have a really good chance of having ways of thinking amongst the younger generation that avoid a lot of the issues that plague us not just in New Zealand but around the world. Racism, rising inequality, climate change, biodiversity losses, the degradation of rivers and the ocean, because we see them all as resources to be exploited and they're there to serve us including people.

    So Eruera said when we were working on his book together study your whakapapa and learn to trace your decent lines to all of your ancestors. The old men told us, study your descent lines as numerous as the hairs on your head. Understand the divisions of your ancestors so you can talk in the gatherings of the people. Hold fast to the knowledge of your kinship and unite in the unity of humankind. And when I go back now and think about the work that we did together over the years in the books the stories they told about their lives in the past. It's really interesting to see how they recounted their own personal histories as well.

    So a very direct — very little censorship actually — all sorts of things got talked about and the people sort of turn up in their turn and they're there as living powerful people. People like Mihi Kōtukutuku, the Williams family where when Amiria grew up in their homestead. Vivid memories of watching their high heels when she was sitting under the table as a little child. The way they used to clip each other on the cheek when they came down for breakfast. The things that fascinated her about Europeans.

    And so just to finish one of the things we've been doing and our family's been taking Eruera’s advice. And especially through the work of our daughter Amiria. There's Amiria as a little kid sitting on Ami’s lap. And she having been an anthropologist at Cambridge herself and senior curator at the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology there and so on, knows Paul and many others really well. She started delving into having worked with them on Māori anthropology and Ngata and all sorts of things like that with Hauiti and Wayne and various others. She's turned to trace our own descent lines especially through James MacDonald and back to the ancestral island of Ulva, which is just off the – next to Mull off the West Coast of Scotland.

    So while delving into the history of the things your kids teach you. Delving into the history of Ulva she discovered that James MacDonald's great grandfather John Currie was himself a Gaelic scholar, who in 1815, sat down with local elders on Ulva and wrote a manuscript of Gaelic songs and stories for Staffa who was the leader of the island at that time.

    And his Gaelic name was John MacMhuirich – I had to get a lot of coaching. She says even that's terrible but in Gaelic descended from this long line of bards, the MacMhuiriches, who are actually pretty famous in Scotland I've discovered in the last few weeks. Who memorised and recounted the genealogical histories of the lords of the Isles.

    And the work of these learned men, they trained — a bit like the wānanga in a way — was to hand down to posterior, the valorous actions, conquests, battles, skirmishes, marriages, feasts, and funerals and to repeat them at the gatherings of the people so that they kept their tribes the cadets in their branches so well and distinctly separate. And I was today started looking up some of the manuscript written by the lineage of bards. There's the red book and the black book and they're quite well known, beautiful laments songs of battle, et cetera, et cetera.

    So Amiria, our daughter, is now studying Gaelic and working on a book on the history of Ulva, with local people who recently bought back the island. So it's the double spirals of time. Who knows how history drives us, and the way in which our ancestors spin out of the past in various ways, and draw us into the future.

    And in our family Bible, too, as part of all this searching around, we find in the handwritten genealogies on the front flyleaf of this massive, great, big leather-bound Bible a William Stirling MacDonough six generations back. Hmm, I wonder if there's some – because, of course, the Stirling, there was a maternal line in there somewhere, obviously, that, who knows, could link with Eruera Stirling’s Scottish side.

    So talk about migrations, talk about the ironies, and the beauties of the past, and the controversies that are still with us today, we haven't resolved them. When I read the exchanges between Apirana Ngata and Te Rangi Hīroa. I've got a lot of friends that would write the same sort of thing today I'm sure. So as Eruera used to chant: Whakarongo! Whakarongo! Listen, listen to the cry of the bird, calling bind, join, be one – this was his favorite tauparapara – bind within, bind without, bind above, bind below. Tie the knots of humankind, the night hears, the night hears, bind the lines of people coming down, from great Hawaiki, from long Hawaiki, from Hawaiki far away, bind to the spirit, to the day light, to the World of Light. Kia ora.

    (Applause)

    Chris Szekely: Dame Anne, e te rangatira, tēnā koe i tō kōrero i tēnei pō. I whakahonoretia i a mātou i ōu whakaaro. Thank you.

    A politician, a photographer, and a librarian, three men in a boat paddling up a river. That could have been a terrible joke, joke but those men figuratively Ngata, MacDonald, and Andersen. It has been nothing terrible about this evening and we weren't expecting jokes. We were expecting knowledge and expecting wisdom and that's what we've had delivered to us tonight.

    We were expecting you last year. And I note early in your presentation, you talked about this lecture being some 30 years late. I was in this auditorium 30 years ago listening to Sharon Dell who was then the keeper of the collections, introducing a lecture from you. At that time I was a library assistant deep in the bowels of this building ironing Māori language newspapers in preparation for microfilming.

    The tools have changed one of the things that pricked my ears up when you were talking about the technologies. The technologies that those boys from Te Aute recognised and adopted and adapted for their own means. You got to wonder about what was in the water at Te Aute because it was such magnificence that came out of that school at that time.

    I am greatly optimistic when I see some of the scholars that come to this place today. You mentioned some of them. Often they are young, they are Māori, they're interested in the sources that are in this place. And they're interested in marrying that up with what they know. What they know of their whakapapa what they know from their whānau. And that's exactly as it should be.

    The circularity, 30 years ago I was in a place and I heard you talk. For me that is about the takarangi spiral, that never ending circularity. We can zoom in the past and pop out into the future. And that's what research is about. It's about drawing on those sources and coming up with new knowledge. The infinite nature of new knowledge. How appropriate that the title of your talk was Knowledge as a Blessing on the Mind because that's what this place is about. It is about searching for the evidence, looking to a variety of sources to generate new knowledge.

    How appropriate that it is you giving essentially The Centenary Founder Lecture. A few months late nevertheless, but it was worth the wait. I am about to invite you all to join us upstairs on the next floor. And I'm about to regale you with an advertisement because this is at long last our centenary year realised. And one of the things I want you to note when you go to the first floor or to the ground floor rather is one the takarangi spiral which adorns our walls and various motifs. It was never put there to be pretty or to be decorative. It was put there as a reference to older forms of knowledge and what this place was about.

    I also encourage you to peek through the glass at the National Library gallery. So you can get an advanced peek, albeit through a glass wall, of our centenary exhibition which opens on Friday. You will see a couple of things. You'll see in ancient cuneiform, a stone tablet with ancient writings chiselled into it in a language that probably none of us can decipher. What that tablet is about is about whakapapa. Whakapapa from other parts of the world that have a connection to where we are here today.

    I want you also to note the tremendous new artwork commissioned especially for our centenary year from artist Matthew McIntyre Wilson. It is a series of hīnaki, nets. And on that note, I would like to give Alexander Turnbull the final word when he said, "Anything that whatever relating this colony on its history flora, fauna, geology, and inhabitants, will be fish for my net from as early a date as possible until now." Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in thanking Dame Anne Salmond.

    (Applause)

    Any errors with the transcript, let us know and we will fix them: digital-services@dia.govt.nz

Transcript — part 1

Speakers

Kate Fortune, Paul Diamond, Anne Salmond, Chris Szekely

Audio

Kate Fortune: Greetings to you all. I am Kate Fortune, president of the Friends of Turnbull Library, Ngā Hoa o te Whare Pukapuka Turnbull. I'm very pleased to invite, Paul Diamond, curator Māori at the Alexander Turnbull Library, who represents us as one of the Friends as well as being a former recipient of a research grant and a former founder speaker to start tonight's event with a mihi.

Paul Diamond: Tēnā tatou. He hōnore he kororia, he maungārongo ki runga i te mata o te whenua, he whakaaro pai ki ngā tāngata katoa. Ki ngā mate kua hinga i te toki o Aituā, haere koutou ki te moana nui, te rerenga o ngā waka i hoehoe ai e rātou mā ka ngaro i te tirohanga kanohi. Hoi anō. E mau tonu ana ki ngā tōpitopito o te ngakau.

Apiti hono tātai hono rātou te hunga mate ki a rātou. Āāpiti hono tātai hono tatou te hunga ora ki a tatou katoa. Kua whakarauika tatou i tēnei ruma ataahua kei te papa e kīa nei ko Tiakiwai. Ko Tiakiwai tētahi o ngā awa iti e rere atu ki te moana ki waho, ki te Whanganui a-Tara. Ko Te Ahumairangi te ingoa o te papa kei runga rā. Koirā te hiwi kei kōrā.

Nā reira, ngā mana whenua o te rohe nei, ngā tāngata o te raukura, Taranaki whānui ki Te Ūpoko o te Ika, ka nui anō te mihi ki a koutou katoa. Ka mihi hoki ki ngā kaiwhakahaere o te pō, Kate, me tō tira, me tō Komiti, tēnā koutou katoa. Koutou rā ngā tino hoa o ngā kohikohinga kōrero kei te whare pukapuka Arekahānara Huripuru, Alexander Turnbull. Ka mihi hoki ki te kaupapa o te pō tēnei kauhau. Ia tau ia tau ka tū he kauhau hei whakanui i a Arekahānara Huripuru Alexander Turnbull.

Tēnei tau ka mihi ki a koee te hoa Anne kōrua ko Jeremy. Ki a koe Anne e te rangatira, te tino kairangahau, nau mai anō kōrua ki te whare pukapuka nei. Nā mātou te hōnore ka taea e koe te haramai ki te whakawhiti ōu whakaaro e pā ana ki tēnei kaupapa o te whakapapa, me te hītori hoki. Nā reira, ka nui te mihi ki a koutou katoa kua whakarauika mai i te pō nei.

Kia ora everyone just to summarise what I've just said. I was just acknowledging first of all those who've passed as we do in a mihimihi in Māori, bringing us back to the realm of the living to us. Also acknowledging the people who've made tonight happen. Acknowledging where we are in this library on land of the mana whenua, Taranaki whanui.

This floor is named Tiakiwai after one of the streams that runs into the harbour. Te Ahumairangi where you'll be afterwards is named after the hill just above us. And just acknowledging these are tohu whenua of the mana whenua on whose land this library is built.

And this year we're honoured as I've said to have, Dame Anne Salmond, here and I'm very much looking forward to hearing her kōrero and whakapapa and history. Just back quickly to you Kate. Tēnā tatou.

Kate Fortune: Kia ora, Paul. On Friday 28, June 1918, nearly 103 years ago. A dedicated and successful book collector Alexander Horsburgh Turnbull, died in hospital, less than half a kilometre away from this auditorium. Just three months before his 50th birthday.

Under the terms of his will his vast collection of some 55,000 books, along with drawings, prints, paintings, maps, photographs, manuscripts, was bequeathed to his majesty the King. It was to be kept as a public reference library in Wellington, to form the nucleus of a New Zealand national collection known today, of course, as the Alexander Turnbull Library. The beating heart of the National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa.

The Friends of Turnbull Library were established in 1939, to support and promote the work of the library. For many years we've held an annual Founder Lecture to recognise the huge generosity of that man who gave his library to the nation. But tonight's Founder Lecture is a particularly special event. It's been postponed twice because of COVID-19. And it is in fact the 2020 Founder Lecture. And in the long-standing tradition of acknowledging exceptional scholars, who have used the collections of Turnbull Library for their research, and who continue to draw on Turnbull material for their books.

We were particularly delighted when we managed to persuade distinguished professor, Dame Anne Salmond, from the University of Auckland, to present the 2020 lecture. As you will know in this year's New Year's honours list Dame Anne was awarded New Zealand's highest honour: The Order of New Zealand. She is a wonderful teller of tales, as well as a talented historian, a fine anthropologist, and a deeply committed environmentalist. Her books have won prizes and are massively popular.

Tonight, her topic is Knowledge is a Blessing on our Minds: Whakapapa, Science and History. We'll hear about one of her current projects which has drawn her to reflect on the relationships between history and science, as well as between mātauranga and wānanga.

Tonight's vote of thanks will be given by the chief librarian of the Alexander Turnbull Library, Chris Szekely. We'll not be inviting questions after Dame Anne's lecture. And I ask you not to come down and waylay her here. We're all going to move out, and upstairs, onto the ground floor of the library, to have a drink and something to eat, and an opportunity to talk there. Now, please join me in welcoming Dame Anne Salmond.

(Applause)

Dame Anne: Ko te wai e hora nei, Tiakiwai, ko te marae e takoto nei, ko koutou aku rangatira kua pae nei — Paul, Kate, Chris, koutou katoa, tēnā koutou tēnā koutou tēnā tatou.

I thought I'd start tonight by talking about a project that I'm involved in with a team right now because it involves the Turnbull Library as well as engagements between Mātauranga and Wānanga and contemporary science in New Zealand history in the early 20th century.

Our project, which is called Te Ao Hou – Transforming worlds in Aotearoa, focuses on the period when Apirana Ngata, Te Rangi Hīroa, Maui Pomare, and a cohort of other Te Aute old boys, guided by Sir James Carroll decided to change this country in ways that they hoped would allow Māori to survive and thrive. In order to achieve these aims they worked with a range of pākehā allies, including scholars and scientists. Although those relationships were never straightforward and quite often fraught.

Visual

Images of Apirana Ngata, Te Rangi Hīroa, Maui Pomare, James Carroll

Audio

Among their many initiatives were a series of ethnological expeditions that went out from the Dominion Museum to various Māori gatherings and communities around the country immediately after World War I. Initiated by Apirana Ngata, the brilliant politician and tribal leader from Tairāwhiti in December 1918, so right about the time of Turnbull's death. These expeditions were organised in collaboration with my own great grandfather James MacDonald, who then was the acting director of the Dominion Museum, so this talk is about whakapapa in more ways than one.

Visual

Images of Apirana Ngata, James McDonald, W.H.R.Rivers

Audio

It seems likely that the idea for these expeditions in the very first place was sparked by W.H.R. Rivers, who was a very famous psychologist and anthropologist at that time, who came to Wellington in 1915. Rivers had taken part in the 1898 to 1899, anthropological expedition from Cambridge University to the Torres Straits. Where they used film photography and wax cylinders to record local rituals and practices. So during this visit to Wellington, Rivers must have discussed these Torres Strait expeditions, and his genealogical method of research, which as we'll see captured Ngata's imagination.

Ngata saw parallels with whakapapa as a scholarly device, and the potential of using cutting edge technologies to record tikanga Māori. And it has to be said that we're in the middle of COVID. Well, what they were facing at that particular moment in our history. It was just two months after the troops had started returning from World War I. We'd had huge losses during the war. But in those two months 9,000 New Zealanders died and many of them were Māori. So Ngata was terrified the tikanga indeed many of them would vanish with these experts.

And they, Te Rangi Hīroa, Ngata, were very critical of much of the existing literature on Māori life. They wanted it to be more comprehensive, insightful, and accurate, from their point of view. Galvanised by the losses of all those tribal experts in the war and in the influenza pandemic, Ngata, decided that it was imperative to use cutting-edge technologies to record as many ancestral tikanga as possible.

So in December 1918, he wrote to the Minister of Internal Affairs suggesting that film, photography, and wax cylinder recordings, should be used to capture the tonalities of the reo and the different dialects of te reo, poi, haka, and waiata, and that a large gathering that was going to be held very soon in his own electorate in Gisborne, would offer an ideal opportunity for some of this work.

Visual

Image of James McDonals and Joannes Andersen with a camera filming.

Audio

So soon afterwards James McDonald, who had served as government cinematographer, who was actually the first official filmmaker in the world, so New Zealand was ahead of the game with that technology, before joining the Dominion Museum he also wrote to the Secretary of Internal Affairs enthusiastically supporting Ngata's suggestion.

So the first of these expeditions which involved MacDonald, who you see there is filmmaker and photographer, along with Johannes Andersen, who you also see there, who was the first Turnbull librarian, who was keen to study whai or string games, Māori string games and Māori music. And also Elsdon Best, the distinguished ethnologist, who at that time was working in the Dominion Museum. And they attended the Hui Aroha in Gisborne in 1919.

This was a very large and inter-tribal gathering that was held to welcome home the soldiers, the Pioneer Battalion, the Māori soldiers, who had survived World War I. And Ngata's close friend and formerly his private secretary Raumoa Balneavis helped to organise the participation of the expedition in the hui. So he was in their choreographing the participation of these people in the Hui Aroha, you can see him there with Johannes Andersen and Elsdon Best.

Visual

Image of Johannes Andersen, Raumoa Baineavis and Esdon Best recording.

Audio

So Monty Soutar has actually written the chapter in our forthcoming book on the Hui Aroha. And of course, Monty, is the great authority on the Pioneer Battalion, but also the Māori Battalion World War II. And he's written a fantastic chapter on that particular expedition.

The second expedition travelled to the official Māori welcome to the Prince of Wales in Rotorua in 1920, where Te Rangi Hīroa who'd during the war risen to become the second in command of the Pioneer Battalion. As you all know, I'm sure he was trained as a medical doctor, and then became a prominent Māori politician before enlisting and going off to fight. And he was a key organiser of this particular gathering.

Visual

Image of Aporo playing the nose flute for the expediditon team at the Hui Aroha, 1919.

Audio

Oh, yes, that's at the Hui Aroha one of McDonald’s photos and his wax cylinder recordings as well.

Visual

Image of Jim Shcuster with Tene Waitere carvings.

Audio

So, Jim Schuster, whose ancestor Tene Waitere, the very famous Ngāti Tarawhai carver. Carved a pou haki for the Prince, which has landed up now in Britain, at the University of Cambridge. And he's told the story of Tene, the carver. His participation in the carving of the pou haki but also his own travels to Britain to restore this flagpole. And it's a fantastic part of the book.

Visual

Pa Tuna, eel weirs on the Whanganui River, 1921.

Audio

And the third expedition, I've travelled up the Whanganui River in 1921, and they started out from Koriniti where Te Rangi Hīroa joined them. He was working in Māori health at that time having come back from the war. But he was moving towards becoming an anthropologist himself. And so he managed to kind of wangle it so his field trips to look at epidemics and so on coincided with the expeditions. And he did a brilliant job in Koriniti of recording things like — this is again, McDonald photos of the Eel Weirs on the river.

Visual

Rihipeti standing in a waka. The waka is on land.

Audio

Rihipeti, and we've been talking to a number of her descendants, fantastic woman. John Maihi describes her as very bossy. We're learning quite a lot about her. She was a prominent woman. Women feature a lot in these films, and in these photographs, and in the records. So Rihipeti weaving in Whanganui. Again, the whāriki that was stored up in the houses.

Visual

Woman weaving, and Mrs Pokai with whāriki (floor mat)

Audio

So Te Rangi Hīroa was a specialist in material culture. Fascinated with weaving. And he actually learned how to do a lot of these things himself even though a lot of these were women's arts really. But as a decorated soldier I guess he didn't feel any challenges to his masculinity in sitting down and doing weaving with the women.

And he wrote an absolutely fantastic paper about weaving arising out of this expedition. So what was going on here was Te Rangi Hīroa, in particular kind of emerging as an anthropologist, but one with a particular interest in material culture. And Apirana organising each of these expeditions. We've got the letters where he writes and ask for the funding and for the Secretary of Internal Affairs to approve the expeditions.

Visual

Stick with string around the top being used to drill a stone.

Audio

So there's a wonderful set of photographs of life and the community.

Visual

Māori group standing outside an English church at Koriniti, Whanganui.

Audio

And some of you probably have seen the films, which have become a treasure of Ngā Taonga Sound and Vision, and they've been played all over the world, as well as in many of the tribal areas where the ancestors are being depicted. And in the Whanganui, one of the sequences I absolutely love is the whole village getting in and doing skipping. It's absolutely fantastic. And you can see the spirit of these films with the engagement it was possible because it was basically Apirana and Te Rangi Hīroa, who forged the relationships that made these recordings possible.

Visual

Paratene Ngata makiing tāruke koura | crayfish potfor Te Rangi Hīroa, Waiomatatini, 1923.

Audio

And during the fourth of the last of these expeditions, they went to Waiomatatini which was Apirana Ngata's own home. They stayed at the bungalow with Apirana's family. And his father Paratene actually was supervising them on horseback a lot at the time as they were recording. And you see him here with Peter Buck, as he was then usually called, but Te Rangi Hīroa, they were doing these wonderful crayfish pots and various kinds of traps. Again, for Te Rangi Hīroa because he was writing at that time about Māori netting. He was fascinated by all these traps and hīnaki. There's some of the nets that they photographed.

Visual

Two men standing at sea edge holding a huge net. Fishing for kahawai with scoop nets Tairāwhiti expedition, 1923.

Audio

And Natalie Robertson, the Ngāti Porou filmmaker and photographer, has written an amazing, very detailed chapter, a long chapter about this particular expedition because she's been able to talk with people like, Kiri Carr, Boyce Te Maro, various of the elders, whose ancestors these are about these images, and she herself as a filmmaker and photographer. So she's kind of perfectly placed to comment on a lot of this material.

Visual

Image of Mita Taupopoki, Te Arawa rangatira.

Audio

One of the things that's really interesting about Te Rangi Hīroa at this time was that he was also as a doctor. Very interested in physical anthropology and anthropometry. And you see all these shots that McDonald took at his direction of people face on and then sideways on, including many of the great ariki and rangatira — and here's Mita Taupopoki, he's a great Te Arawa leader — but this was for Te Rangi Hīroa, he had this interest at that time although he later gave it up and decided that material culture was far more interesting and rewarding.

Visual

Image of Apriana Ngata and Peter Buck at Waiomatatini, 1923.

Audio

But there they are Apirana and Te Rangi Hīroa with a tukutuku panel. It's quite a famous shot at Waiomatatini. Again, is a McDonald photo. So it's kind of uncanny when we look at these photographs and sort of realise that my great-grandfather is invisible, but he’s there behind the camera and behind the lens.

And by this expedition they've all got to know each other pretty well. They referred to my great-grandfather as Mac. They called Johannes Andersen Tarawhai because he was always doing string games. Actually, they sort of teased him a lot at Waiomatatini, he had a bit of a penchant for young girls actually. We were slightly terrified to discover when we read his journals, but anyway, I mean, obviously they teased him a lot and thought it was rather amusing. And Elsdon Best was Pehi, so they kind of all got to know each other pretty well. But as I say the relationships were not straightforward all the same as we'll see.

So as far as we know with our whole team, so Wayne Ngata has written the preface for the book because obviously there's a very close connection there with Apirana. And Arapata Hakiwai’s writing one too. I went back into my files and realised that Arapata and I had exchanged letters about this project precisely 30 years ago. So even though this lecture is a little bit delayed is not delayed by 30 years, which is what happened to me and Arapata. He was then the Māori curator at Te Papa and now of course he's Māori leader at Te Papa so it's fantastic.

But as far as we know, these are the first expeditions of their kind in the world to have been initiated by indigenous leaders for their own purposes. And it was very much as we'll see, and when you hear the wax cylinder recordings, the people are addressing the horn. Speaking into the horn often giving a Whai-kōrero and saying, I'm giving these taonga, hei taonga mā ngā uri whakatipu, as treasures for the rising generations. The generations to come. So it was very purposeful enterprise.

Visual

Three Māori men fishing with a net in the Waiapu River, 1923.

Audio

This is quite funny because my great-grandfather had to get up and roll his pants up. They all were rolling up their pants and getting their boots wet in the river. And there's Te Rangi Hīroa sort of organising things what you don't see there is Paratene Ngata on the horse telling them all what to do because he was the kaumātua in charge, very much so. There they are on the veranda of the bungalow — again, another McDonald photo — with Elsdon Best, Paratene Ngata on this side here, and Iehu Nukunuku, who played a kōauau for them on the Bungalow in 1923.

Visual

Iehu Nuhunuku, Elsdon Best and Paratenen Ngata on the veranda at the Bungalow,1923.

Audio

And here's the horn that they were all talking into.

Visual

Elsdon Best, Iehu Nukunuku and Te Rangi Hīroa recording at the Bungalow 1923

Audio

It was really, really interesting to see this. The way in which people embraced this technology. Some people really took to it and performed lots of haka and songs. And karakia all sorts of amazing material that they decided to record for future generations. The films are very well known, the wax cylinders not so. So when people hear those the voices of their own ancestors, it's very special.

Visual

Image of Peter Buck and words "As you said in your last we start off with the atmosphere. The Polynesian corpuscles carry us beyound the barrier that takes a Pakeha some time to scale and the key of speech cuts out some other months. The plaiting techniques of Wanganui, the net strokes of Waiapu etc. etc. cuts out one or two more months that Stokes will not allow for. I will be pleased to think that the Board's first venture in Polynesian research, will compare favourable with the Bishop Museum publications ..." Peter Buck to Ngata Rarotonga 20 September, 1926. In ed. Sorrenson 1986 Vol 1:45-46.

Audio

As I've mentioned Te Rangi Hīroa was getting ready he was getting ready for an international career in anthropology. He was recruited by the Bishop Museum in Hawaii, and Natalie and Billie Lythberg from our team went there and looked into the Te Rangi Hīroa archive there, which is big, including lots of the photos from the expeditions. So he was shaping a lot of what the photographs and films recorded. But Ngata had this passion for the decorative and oral arts. And so, again, MacDonald was photographing whakairo, tukutuku, and also they were recording lots of mōteatea that eventually Apirana Ngata drew upon when he was writing the volumes of Ngā Mōteatea.

So they're often referred to — it's the same one that is in the books. And Elsdon Best, he was pretty old and quite frail by this time, so he wasn't much of a force on the expeditions. But we do have some of his field notebooks. And he was the most fluent speaker of the non-Māori participants by far. And so his field notebooks are full of little details about fishing and all sorts of place names going right up the Whanganui River naming a lot of the power on the river. There's lots of really interesting beautiful little details in his notebooks.

Johannes Andersen of course, was doing the string games, and he was trying to make sense of Māori music. And there was a little bit of vying going on because Api obviously was a great expert on mōteatea and yet Johannes Andersen as the Pākehā scholar was writing about Māori music, which he couldn't perform and he couldn't speak Māori. So you can sort of see in some of the commentaries that Api was quite sceptical.

A lot of these records, including Andersen's and Best's field diaries ended up in the Turnbull Library. And Paul it's been great working with you and trying to track down all that material. While the films that were originally in the Dominion Museum they ended up in Ngā Tonga Sound and Vision where they were restored in the '80s and then taken around the world. And they've been shown in lots of marae around the country. Lots of people have seen these films. The very first time I saw them was actually when Te Māori was brought back from America.

The exhibition of Māori carving that was taken overseas, and they had a big screening at St. James as part of the program celebrating the return of Te Māori. And my mom and me, and our daughter Amirea we all went to see them. So the three of us the descendants of McDonald sort of turned up.

And it was an amazing occasion because Whina Cooper was there, and Dame Te Ata Te Atairangikaahu was there, a whole bunch of people. These silent movies that were being narrated in a really beautiful way by a former Māori actress, who became absolutely fantastic in that role. And yeah, the theatre was just full of people calling out and laughing. You wouldn't know they were silent films. You realise that movies actually quell the audience whereas these ones let them all just go for it.

And so it is a really interesting thing to see that the McDonald photos and there's lots of them are in Te Papa. It's a very large collection, and luckily they've now been given high-res digital copies have been taken of them because they were degrading. They’re nitrate films, and negatives, and things degrade over time, so they have been made. And the same thing with the wax cylinders. Every time you play a wax cylinder it degrades, it cuts the wax, and the fineness of the recording is kind of muffled a bit. And so those have now been digitised and transcribed and catalogued by The Archive of Māori and Pacific Music at the University of Auckland.

And then my great, great aunt Marjorie McDonald donated a fantastic album of photographs. And this was so good when we were doing the research with Sandy Nepia and John Maihi on the Whanganui images, of which there are a lot. And we had to try and get them in the right order. And the best way of doing that was from the album because it was put by, I think, probably by McDonald himself, in the order that he took them on the river as he went from Koroniti went up to Hiruharama and then ended up at Pipiriki. And she also gave a lot of stuff to the Hocken.

The fact that these things have been held and kept — almost lost in many cases. The wax cylinders almost lost. The films had degraded quite a lot by the time Ngā Taonga restored them. Quite a few of the photographs we don't have anymore because the negatives have degraded. But they've kept an amazing repository of information, and so many ancestors’ voices, faces, tikanga, the sound of the reo back then, that's all there in these records as Api intended and the people that actually did the recordings as well.

It was really moving for me. People often talk about museums and how they have these family treasures. Turned out that McDonald had a kaitaka that was given to him by Paitini at the Hui Aroha. Paitini who's a very important Tūhoe elder and a friend of Elsdon Best, and that's now in the Otago Museum. So I had a lovely time not so long ago going down to see that with the curator. The Māori curator down at Otago.

And Te Rangi Hīroa he had this amazing photo index of material culture from all over Polynesia, that he built up over the years in the Bishop Museum in Honolulu, and Hawaii. A lot of the McDonald photos are there, but with Te Rangi Hīroa's field notes. So we know who these people were from his field notes when we don't always know from any other source. But he also describes — and we've got these beautiful sequences of people weaving, making crayfish pots, and so on, done to his directions obviously — and then he's recorded the sequence of events in these note cards.

So he went there not that long after the last of the expeditions. He went on an expedition with the Bishop Museum in 1926, landed up in Hawaii in 1927, and never really came home when he visited.

Ngata always hoped he would become a professor of Māori anthropology in Aotearoa. But that chair was never created, so he stayed. He became a professor at Yale instead.

And Natalie Robertson and Billie, from our research team. Actually the Hawaiian curators gave them permission to take digital records of that archive while they were there in 2018.

So professor, Linda Smith, who many of you will know, has written extensively about research in te ao Māori. Speaking in 2010, to an audience of Māori archivists and curators made the point that ancestral taonga are often scattered and fragmented. They found their way into different sorts of collections because of the kinds of so-called objects that they are. And she says that bits and pieces all over the place and we need to reconnect them, and reconnect them to the people to make us whole again, she said.

They had been scattered, they've been fragmented, these little bits and pieces, all over the world in some cases. So that's one of the things that we've been most intent on in this project is trying to find all the taonga that were collected of whatever kind during the expeditions. And then organise them so that the descendants have easy access to them, and know what's actually there because quite often this material is quite difficult to find and to know. Quite a lot of the archival records are not accurate we've discovered as well, wrong names and that sort of thing.

So it's been really fascinating doing that kind of humpty dumpty type of research, and we've all loved it. We've had such a lot of fun doing this. It's a real scholarly kind of taking bits from here and there as Paul, and others will know. And finding a whole life and a whole series of lives kind of tangled up behind these records.

And the thing that I've also been really fascinated by because in a way is very current is to hear Te Rangi Hīroa and Apirana Ngata, and when I call him Api it's because Eruera Stirling always used to call him Api, he was mentored by Apirana. And then I was fortunate to have a close working relationship and personal relationship with him and Amiria for many years. So Api and Te Rangi Hīroa, as scholar politicians, soldiers, they were extraordinary people. I mean, just absolutely extraordinary when you know that Apirana was the first New Zealander to get a double degree in law. And his first article was published when he was 18. You know, I've read his first article it's fantastic.

He was composing poetry and sort of having that published when he was first at University, and he was young when he first went off to University. They were brilliant, both of them. And they were talking about Western history and Western science a lot in their exchanges. They were really struggling because they were dealing with people who were being proclaimed as the experts, and having to deal with that from their own vantage point of people who were deeply immersed in trying to understand and master a lot of these taonga for themselves as descendants.

And they talked a lot about anthropology, which is my own discipline, because that was something that kind of both fascinated, and I would have to say probably repelled them, at that time. And they really were very dissatisfied with the way in which it depicted Te ao Māori. And so I've got some quotes that I want to share with you because they could be ones that are being said today. So this is Te Rangi Hīroa writing to Ngata, he'd gone off to the Cook Islands with the Bishop Museum on his first field expedition as a budding anthropologist. Having already been second in command of the Māori Battalion, and an MP, and before that a doctor.

He said, “As you said in your last we start off with the atmosphere. The Polynesian corpuscles take us beyond the barrier that takes a pākehā some time to scale, and the key of speech cuts out some other months. Then the plaiting techniques of Wanganui” — so he's referring to that expedition — “the net strokes of Waiapu” – so that's the East Coast expedition – “cuts out one or two more months that Stokes,” who was the leader of the Bishop Museum, “would not allow for. I will be pleased to think that the Board's first venture into Polynesian research, will compare favourably with the Bishop Museum publications.”

So they were already sort of pitting themselves against global anthropology not just local anthropology. And as that evolved, and he was getting more and more involved with various professors from not just America, but Britain as well. Te Rangi Hīroa had a lot to do with British anthropology as well as American anthropology. And he say, "I've worked up to the stage I'm dissatisfied with myself and want to be the best to do the best work of which I'm capable. And this lies in the field of anthropology." So this is a man saying, I've found my life's work.

"The past has gradually trained me for it. I think the time is now ripe when I should devote myself entirely to it and keep up our reputation in this branch of scientific work. I can more than hold my own with other workers in the Polynesian field. It's right and fitting that the highest branch of the Polynesian race” — so here he is not without his own kind of yeah, well, as we'll see with Api as well, “Should be in the forefront and not leave the bulk of the investigations to workers who haven't got the inside angle that we have. They miss things that are significant to us."

So this is a critique that's, this is way back in 1927, and as I say it could be today easily. These two were corresponding backwards and forwards as soon as Te Rangi Hīroa went off to Hawaii. They were just trying to work things out between them, the global world of anthropology on the one hand, local politics in New Zealand on the other. And for Apirana, it was all about the survival of te ao Māori and the Māori people. Feeling that, that was totally, totally at risk.

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"I have now to square up to your very high opinion of my capacity to write in English on the social organisationof the Māori. I am testing this out for my own satisfaction in a paper on "The Application of the Genealogical Method to early New Zealand History" for the Wellington branch of the Historical Association. It is an endeavoru to justify the pleas that collecitons of Māori whakapapa should rank with other material among the archives.

W.H.R. Rivers wrote of the Social Organisation of the Tores St. people, basing all his findings on extremely scrappy genealogical tables. If he had struck folk like the Māoris, whose education for the most part consisted of memorizing and coordinating whakapapa what a noise he would of made with them in the scientific world! Rivers' estimate of the part that New Zealand should take in carrying out a full ethnographic survey of the native races under its rule should be acted up to.

Engari kei hea he kai mahi mo tenei mo tenei maara? Ma tetahi tino tohunga rawa e whakarapopoto nga take kua kaupapa i te tina tangata kua tuhituhi nei mo taua mo te Māori me te whakaatu ki te ao i nga wahi tahapa o ena, me te waiho tahapa o ena me te waiho i nga wahi e matapouri ana.

(Wiremu Parker's translation: "Be where is the specialist for this undertaking? It calls for an exceptional scholar to write a synopsis of the knowledge that has been written down by many people about us the Māori and it should contain a critique so that the world would know the inaccuracies, the inadequacies and doubts about some of the writings.")

Ngata to Peter Buck Waiomatatini 23 June 1928. In ed. Sorrenson 1986 Vol 1:102-105

Audio

And he decided that he would write a DLit — he decided with Te Rangi Hīroa's encouragement — that he would do a PhD on the social organisation of the Māori. But what he wanted to do was to work on Rivers’ idea of the genealogical method, but it wasn't anything to do with the genealogical method really it was about whakapapa. And he wanted to apply it to New Zealand history which again is something really topical right now.

And he says that the historians have to recognise that whakapapa is a major resource for understanding the history of this country before Europeans arrived and since. And he compares what he is doing with what Rivers wrote about the Torres Strait’s genealogies. And he was very critical of the material the genealogical tables that Rivers had collected. He said they were very scrappy, and if only they'd been working with Māori with their mastery of whakapapa they would have been able to do something quite amazing.

And then he says, and he's saying as a Māori sometimes they write mostly in English to each other but then they burst into Māori every now and then when they've got a really important point to make. And I'll just quote it in English, "Where is the specialist for this undertaking? Calls for an exceptional scholar to write a synopsis of the knowledge that's been written down by many people about us Māori and it should contain a critique so the world would know the inaccuracies, the inadequacies, and the doubts, about some of the writings." So this was Ngata writing, and he was in the process of writing this amazing manuscript on whakapapa.

OK, looks like my slides have come on after they petered out. There we are. It's just a blank one there. So what they were sort of talking about with each other was how can we do this better? How can we draw on the deep knowledge that we have as inheritors of this mātauranga, this wānanga, and what will it mean for this particular discipline of anthropology? And this is what, how Te Rangi Hīroa responded to Ngata's kind of plea, if you like. He was saying, "He the anthropologist” — talking about anthropologists in particular — “is a collector with bottles ready labelled and everything must go in one or other of these bottles, the bottle that has been labelled in the University classroom and not in the field that the labeller never saw."

So he's talking about armchair anthropology in particular which was very common. And then again goes into Māori, "It's you and I who have to separate the items and sort them into each basket. It's you and I who must weave a new basket for the items with which it would be wrong to place them. Who of the Pākehā would dare to say to us, ‘your destroying of this food is wrong’." Just meaning, the work that you've done is incorrect or inaccurate. So he's writing back again from Hawaii in that way.

So their critiques, I think, they're really very contemporary and very penetrating. Their discontent really focused on the way in which Western science and in the form of anthropology was dividing te ao Māori up into categories like religion, mythology. They had notes and queries. They were both reading voraciously in the anthropological literature, and they were reading notes and queries in anthropology and says if you go and look at that document which was the Bible for fieldworkers in the 1920s. Religion, mythology, superstition, law, agriculture, et cetera, et cetera, based on Western ways of understanding reality rather than Māori framings radically distorting te ao Māori in the process which was the point that they kept on making to each other.

So Ngata's response to this was extraordinary totally predictable I suppose because he was a master of te reo. But when they were in Hawaii Natalie and Billie found the missing half of a manuscript half of which is in the Turnbull, which Ngata had written to Te Rangi Hīroa, when he was working on a lecture he was going to give here in Wellington to the Historical Association on the genealogical method in New Zealand history. And he wrote this for Te Rangi Hīroa when you read the typed script. It's clear that it was written for Te Rangi Hīroa. But he was asking himself how did those old wānanga experts manage to master this vast array of information? That they could hold in their minds, on place names, whakapapa, all the ramifications of tribal genealogies, alliances, marriages, battles, adoptions the whole gamut of oral history.

And what he did was he delved into te reo to come up with answers about how they achieved this feat of memory. And I remember when I was young and traveling around to different marae with Eruera in the car, with Amiria as well. But Eruera is wānanga trained expert he would have just sort of this multi-dimensional matrix of some amazing kind in his mind where he could just — we're going off to a hui, and he'd think, ‘He aha te kupu’, what’s the kaupapa of this hui, how do I relate to those people? What are the things that bind us together? What are the things that have maybe been controversies in the past? What more moteatea goes with that? What tauparapara?

And in the car there'll be this kind of wānanga happening as he sort of got himself ready to stand on the marae as a really very well-known orator and speak. And so Ngata was saying that the terms of te reo that he came up with when he was talking. He sat down with some of these old whakapapa experts and asked them to describe the different techniques for reciting whakapapa. And one of them was a takiaho which means to string fish on the line. And we've actually got a photograph. I haven't got it here today, but a McDonald photo of people holding up fish that they'd caught, and they'd strung on a line. And the aho was the line of descent and the fish are the various ancestors. So that's when you're tracing a direct line of descent is the takiaho but you're also thinking of this kind of fishing device.

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Image of kauwhata or feasting stage.

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The kauwhata though, these old feasting stages they used to build. These are great big, complex, horizontal, and vertical structures. And you'd display different types of food on them when you were running a great big hakari for some major occasion. But what a whakapapa expert would do is array the ancestors like that and display them for a particular purpose.

So the sort of thing that Eruera was doing tracing along and then coming down and then going side. But displaying all that information for a particular recital for a particular kaupapa was the kauwhata.

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Image of ridge pole in a marae. Relational cosmos, defined by whakapapa, Rangiatea marae.

Audio

And then the tahuhu he talks about, which is the ridge pole of the house. But also the main line of descent and then the heke which are the subsidiary lines coming down with the rafters and then landing on the poupou which are particular ancestors, that this is another way of.

And when I read that I was thinking some wonderful books on the old Greek and medieval memory theatres they called them, or memory palaces. And they were kind of architectural mnemonic devices where somebody who was mastering a lot of material orally would array in their mind this kind of memory palace and have things stored on different levels, and in different places in this palace. And it seems to me that’s a sort of thing that's going on here, which helps to explain the huge amount of information that these people could hold in memory and check it with each other.

So he says, Te Rangi Hīroa, we can trace incidents or personnel strung on the line, the takiaho, or we could hang them on a hakari stage, or from the first weft in the garment when we’re weaving a garment, that's also the tahuhu is when you're weaving as well. So this works with weaving as well or the ridge pole of a house, or uncovering the layers of stored information and thatching.

And you can imagine how Te Rangi Hīroa with his deep knowledge of a lot of these technologies and Ngata were having a huge amount of fun with each other sort of seeing how these elders managed to — and it's the idea, the forms of order, the sequence he says. Pervading all is the idea of order, sequence, and arrangement. And in boastful mood there's a suggestion of dressing or adornment of lifting pedigrees out of the ruck. So this is a way of — whakapapa is an art form.

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Image if Michael Parekowhai digital art and carving of double spiral.

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Again, this is a sort of contemporary version of this, with Michael Parekowhai playing with kowhaiwhai. But the double spiral as Pei Jones, who was a junior colleague of Ngata's, and they worked together quite a lot in Ngata's later years, came up with this, again from some of the wānanga experts, of the double spiral as being a kind of recapitulation in carving, or indeed on the skin, of the old cosmological chants that were taught in the whare wānanga.

And they start with the beginnings of the universe, and go to thought, and memory, and desire, which is really interesting, that's the next thing. The first surge of energy then thought and memory and desire. And then wānanga or knowledge itself comes before the world itself starts to take shape. Before Rangi and Papa, the winds of growth and in some of these beautiful cosmological chants, the winds of tupu and ora blowing life into the cosmos and then you get sky and earth Rangi and Papatūānuku and then you get the ancestors of the forests, and the sea, and the winds, and then people, turn up on the scene. And this is the double spiral.

This is sort of a depiction according to Pei of that particular way of seeing time you can go diving into the heart of it and then spin out again right into the present. As a lot of those experts did.

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Black and white double spiral.

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And you see this still happening this Brett Graham’s beautiful play with the double spirals. He took this out of Pei’s manuscripts actually and turned it into a video art form, playing with these ideas.

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Photo of Tuho's Te Kura Whare — living building.

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So what I would like to do — well, hang on maybe I'll just show the Kura Whare, too. This is Tūhoe’s way of sort of bringing into contemporary life this whole idea of the house, the living house, as the embodiment of the people, and their knowledge. And they say a symbol of their story a representation of their origins and iwi, their present and their future.

So double carved houses, double spirals, ramifying networks of kinship that include land, and waterways, and mountains, and plants, and animals, and then finally, people, all in just one great huge net of kinship and decent.

And it's really interesting to very briefly compare this with some Western forms of order. So one that I return to over and over again because I think it's so germane and pivotal is the Great Chain of Being, which is a very old. Again, originally came from the Greeks, but then in medieval times became a very important cosmological idea in the West.

And it describes the world as a kind of timeless cosmic hierarchy with God at the top, and then you go through the ranks of the archangels, and the angels, and you come down to the divine King or monarch, then you go through the ranks of the aristocracy, the commoners, and then you go from all those civilised people to so-called barbarians, and then savages, and then sentient animals, like apes and so on, in the great chain of being, and then you go down to the non-sentient animals, and you end up with Papatūānuku right at the bottom rocks and that sort of thing.

And in the great chain of being everything at the bottom of the chain offers up tribute and obedience to everything higher up. So it's the origins of know your place.

It was men above women and children, and as you can see it's in the great chain as well. And when you think about this what a perfect mythic underpinning for things like imperialism, white supremacy, slavery, the class system, sexism, trickle down economics, the 1% and the 99%, the idea of the environment as a resource for human extraction, resource management, ecosystem services, the earth offering up its services to humankind.

This whole God is just above human beings and human beings are right at the top, especially the divine kings and so on. The origins of sovereignty actually, in this model as well. Ideas of sovereignty.

And in the 18th century, the arrow of time was added to this model it was kind of laid on its side. And time was run through it a lineal model of time not like the double spiral. And this generated social evolutionary models that started with so-called primitive hunters and gatherers, ran to pastoralist to agriculturalist, and then to civilised industrial society as the top, the highest, or most recent, most advanced form. And these are sort of underlying motifs of you like these forms of order that Api was looking at in Māori, you can also look at them in the West.

And you can see how incredibly resilient they are because they are very ancient, and also that they have this capacity to spread and go viral. And Te Rangi Hīroa, when you read his letters he sometimes talks about the higher culture when he's talking about the West that's where he's getting it from. It does go viral.

Whereas Apirana was a really good Ngati and would never grant supremacy to anyone else. And in parliament he once remarked, "My judgment of the British race is that it is the finest race on Earth, probably as good as the Māori." So this was part of his impatience with Elsdon Best who totally accepted social evolutionary models and believed that Māori were in the process of dying out and really basically believed that until he himself died.

So in a lecture on the genealogical method that was delivered to the Wellington branch of the Historical Association in 1927. There's the typescript which is in the Turnbull. Thank you so much Turnbull. We wouldn't know very much about these men and the worlds they've had to deal with, and women because women are also a very important part of this story. Ngata tackled social evolutionary theory head on. It's really cool to read what he said.

He said, he was talking about Condliffe. J. B. Condliffe had just published A Short History of New Zealand and the preface was written by a historian called Dr Hight and he had written that, "New Zealand was really interesting because in the first place the development of human society is in to a certain degree epitomised on the history of New Zealand. The hunting and fishing stages of primitive man are, inter alia, illustrated by the life of the Māori's and the pastoral agricultural industrial stages have succeeded in overlaying each other so rapidly in New Zealand that a surviving pioneer or one of our early settlers has witnessed in his own lifetime the economic and general social development that has occupied centuries in the lands of the old world."

So, sort of seeing the history of our country after European arrival is a kind of very rapid run through of social evolutionary theory. And Ngata was very acerbic, I mean, it's really interesting to see how he wrote and talked, he said, “Hight has left the impression, at least in my mind, that after serving to illustrate certain stages in the development of primitive man the Māori people passed out of the living picture finding no place in the crowded development of a century."


Transcript — part 2

Dame Anne: And then he admonished the Historical Association for leaving Māori out of the nation's story, or else treating them as — and he said, "This association should avoid the common error of studying the Māori merely as a museum object. And dismissing him from the story of New Zealand as it was today and as it will be tomorrow. A learned professor left New Zealand lately after publishing a historical sketch of the country” — I think, it might have been Condliffe — “in other lands he was asked, what contribution if any the Māori race had made to the economic progress of New Zealand? Like a candidate in the examination room who has not crammed the particular topic, he found himself unable to answer except in the most general way. I mention this to exemplify an attitude, not uncommon in the highest ranks of research, the impatience of the white settler together with the aloofness of University trained intellect, combines to affect the focus of the most friendly investigator.”

So he was making his points and making them fairly head on.

So just to go quickly into some very contemporary issues given this kind of framing Ngata thought very, very deeply about the history of our country. And he researched its whakapapa as we can see in huge depth and detail he published Rauru-nui-a-toi lectures on Ngati Porou tribal history. But a lot of whakapapa and so on. He studied the Mōteatea and all the historical information in those.

And he was arguing with the historians that they really must regard this as kind of valid and important historical information. And that this scholarly tradition of the wānanga was something that they shouldn't ignore. And in order to work with this material, you needed to study the reo. And you couldn't investigate Māori realities without it, past or present, and I think this is a critique that still pertinent to the training of New Zealand historians today.

So what would he think of the draft curriculum? I asked myself, and I thought well, I wish he was here obviously for himself because I'm sure he would deliver a very learned and kind of interesting commentary on the whole issue about how we teach New Zealand history in schools to our kids. And I think he would be very happy with some of the framing. There are key framings for example, whakapapa and whanaungatanga, well that would be right up his alley. That's what he was arguing for back in 1927. Turangawaewae and Kaitiakitanga, yep, that would be right up his — he was very much about the care of local landscapes and fascinated by land. And Te Tiriti again something he wrote about for himself in his own time.

So I think he'd be he'd say those were interesting and valid ways of focusing the draft curriculum. But I think he'd also find gaps, and, I think, he would also probably want to be asking that the framers dive even deeper into Māori conceptions of whakapapa, to inform the framing of the curriculum. Because it's interesting when you look at his sketch of New Zealand history it starts with life back in the homelands as this one does. And then traces successive migrations to this country, including those from Europe and elsewhere.

So with whakapapa when the Europeans turn up, they turn up in the whakapapa, if they marry in or there they are, there's no great big announcement that says, Captain Cook has arrived and, lo and behold, there's a new world begun. It’s basically there's a pākehā ancestor in there and this line, in that line, and the other line, and they're there when they arrive.

And you find that he was fascinated by the way in which these relationships evolve through time. Very critical of aspects of it but always fascinated. So he talks about the European explorers, he talks about the whalers and the sealers, and then the treaty, and then the arrival of settlers from Europe and elsewhere, en masse. Talks about the wars, the New Zealand wars, and the world wars, and right into the future. So he's out into the future before you know it. And always thinking about the future when he's talking about the past.

And it's interesting when you look at the draft curriculum at the moment it’s got a whole strand on migration. The migrants come from Polynesia from Hawaiki and so on, and then all of a sudden there's a sort of bare mention that there might be some more people that have turned up and then we're talking about urban migration and Māori to the cities. I think what's interesting about that is it's a bit different from the way that Ngata framed it. He was, I think, intellectually really interested in studying the relationship as it evolved through time and finding ways of trying to understand the dynamics in ways that were sharply critical a lot of the time but also acknowledged that a lot of these people were in the whakapapa.

And he castigated New Zealand historians for treating Māori as barbarians and savages and rightly so, and for leaving them out of the story. And it would be kind of tempting if you like just to flip the tables and do it the other way around but that's not the way that, for example, someone like Eruera and many people will know this from their own family whakapapa too. Duncan Stirling, William Stirling, back to Scotland. Very interested in the homelands that weren't just the ones in the Pacific.

So I think, it's really interesting to think about the power of the past and the way we frame it. And the way we deal with our own ancestors, but also those of others, I think has a huge amount to the way we treat their descendants and the present and always has done, that's the power of History. And there's a literary scholar Geoffrey Harpham who said, "We confront not just our ancestors but our own capacity for determining who our ancestors were and thus for determining who we are and might become. This capacity should be treated like fire with great respect for its power to create and to destroy."

And the way in which we do this I think is really, really important. And Ngata as a scholar, politician, passionate, passionate advocate for his people engaged with those issues head on. And it was very practical for him. I think he was talking about the survival of te ao Māori and the survival of Māori people as Māori. That's what he was fighting for his whole life and his whole career.

And he wrote to Te Rangi Hīroa, and said, "I think in moments of introspection you and I, and Balneavis, and others, would have to acknowledge that our hearts are not in this policy of imposing pākehā culture forms” – so he's talking about culture forms – “on our people. Our recent activities would indicate a contrary determination to preserve the old culture forms as the foundation on which to reconstruct Māori lives and hopes." And that’s in the 1920s.

So I think he would find common cause with a lot of what's happening in Aotearoa at the moment. I think he'd be right there with the framers of the Te Awa Tupua Act when the Whanganui people insisted that their ancestor was a Tupuna, a living being with its own life and rights and kind of intentions and the Urewera settlement and the Urewera act where Tūhoe did the same thing and refused to regard their land as property. Refused to adopt a Western framing and saying the Urewera owns itself, those kind of arguments.

I'm sure he would insist on the study of te reo as a prerequisite for the study of the training of any New Zealand historian. And he'd be there with scholars like Jacinta Ruru and Aroha Harris, and the [INAUDIBLE], Monty, Dan, Linda and Graham Smith, Paul and others, and a burgeoning younger generation, who are arguing for, insisting, that wānanga tikananga, Māori ways of knowing, are built into the frameworks of our scholarly enterprise and our scientific enterprises in New Zealand.

Giving us new ways of thinking of framing not just the past but without these ramifying models relational models that you see in whakapapa kind of the way in which they echo for example with complex systems theory and a lot of these new scientific ideas, so-called — there’s new thinking that we can — are doing in New Zealand many people are doing it. Interrogating the past and trying to imagine new kinds of futures.

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Euera and Amiria Stirling.

Audio

So Eruera and Amiria, and you see there's Ngata right over his shoulder in this house that was Eruera's living room. And that was the relationship he had with that kaumātua. He and Amiria talked a lot about Ngata, they both kind of admired him hugely. And Eruera who trained in the old wānanga tradition he's the one that said, "Knowledge is a blessing on your mind it makes everything clear and guides you to do things in the right ways."

And I think this applies for example to the way we think about our relationships with the living world around us. The cosmological chances I mentioned, this is the first surge of energy. And then you get thought, and memory, and desire, then knowledge. And then the winds of growth, and life, blow through the cosmos and then phenomenal reality starts to take shape and then you get the plants and the animals. Ranginui and Papatūānuku, the plants, the animals, the rivers, the ocean, and people, all interlocked as kin.

And there's this human beings turning up relatively late in the story of how the world has taken shape. And their migrations across Te Moananui were being traced along with subsequent migrations around local landscapes, as in the new curriculum. Europeans turned up in Aotearoa when they arrive in this story and there's an interest in their homelands too and how they made their journeys.

And I think if our children learn to think about the history of our country in this way. Without the existential arrogance that places human beings just below God and above all other life forms and the world itself, the living world itself, defining it as resources to be managed for human purposes to serve us as people and organise as human communities and top down ways that's where you can see inequality has also got its underpinnings in these models.

I think, we'd have a really good chance of having ways of thinking amongst the younger generation that avoid a lot of the issues that plague us not just in New Zealand but around the world. Racism, rising inequality, climate change, biodiversity losses, the degradation of rivers and the ocean, because we see them all as resources to be exploited and they're there to serve us including people.

So Eruera said when we were working on his book together study your whakapapa and learn to trace your decent lines to all of your ancestors. The old men told us, study your descent lines as numerous as the hairs on your head. Understand the divisions of your ancestors so you can talk in the gatherings of the people. Hold fast to the knowledge of your kinship and unite in the unity of humankind. And when I go back now and think about the work that we did together over the years in the books the stories they told about their lives in the past. It's really interesting to see how they recounted their own personal histories as well.

So a very direct — very little censorship actually — all sorts of things got talked about and the people sort of turn up in their turn and they're there as living powerful people. People like Mihi Kōtukutuku, the Williams family where when Amiria grew up in their homestead. Vivid memories of watching their high heels when she was sitting under the table as a little child. The way they used to clip each other on the cheek when they came down for breakfast. The things that fascinated her about Europeans.

And so just to finish one of the things we've been doing and our family's been taking Eruera’s advice. And especially through the work of our daughter Amiria. There's Amiria as a little kid sitting on Ami’s lap. And she having been an anthropologist at Cambridge herself and senior curator at the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology there and so on, knows Paul and many others really well. She started delving into having worked with them on Māori anthropology and Ngata and all sorts of things like that with Hauiti and Wayne and various others. She's turned to trace our own descent lines especially through James MacDonald and back to the ancestral island of Ulva, which is just off the – next to Mull off the West Coast of Scotland.

So while delving into the history of the things your kids teach you. Delving into the history of Ulva she discovered that James MacDonald's great grandfather John Currie was himself a Gaelic scholar, who in 1815, sat down with local elders on Ulva and wrote a manuscript of Gaelic songs and stories for Staffa who was the leader of the island at that time.

And his Gaelic name was John MacMhuirich – I had to get a lot of coaching. She says even that's terrible but in Gaelic descended from this long line of bards, the MacMhuiriches, who are actually pretty famous in Scotland I've discovered in the last few weeks. Who memorised and recounted the genealogical histories of the lords of the Isles.

And the work of these learned men, they trained — a bit like the wānanga in a way — was to hand down to posterior, the valorous actions, conquests, battles, skirmishes, marriages, feasts, and funerals and to repeat them at the gatherings of the people so that they kept their tribes the cadets in their branches so well and distinctly separate. And I was today started looking up some of the manuscript written by the lineage of bards. There's the red book and the black book and they're quite well known, beautiful laments songs of battle, et cetera, et cetera.

So Amiria, our daughter, is now studying Gaelic and working on a book on the history of Ulva, with local people who recently bought back the island. So it's the double spirals of time. Who knows how history drives us, and the way in which our ancestors spin out of the past in various ways, and draw us into the future.

And in our family Bible, too, as part of all this searching around, we find in the handwritten genealogies on the front flyleaf of this massive, great, big leather-bound Bible a William Stirling MacDonough six generations back. Hmm, I wonder if there's some – because, of course, the Stirling, there was a maternal line in there somewhere, obviously, that, who knows, could link with Eruera Stirling’s Scottish side.

So talk about migrations, talk about the ironies, and the beauties of the past, and the controversies that are still with us today, we haven't resolved them. When I read the exchanges between Apirana Ngata and Te Rangi Hīroa. I've got a lot of friends that would write the same sort of thing today I'm sure. So as Eruera used to chant: Whakarongo! Whakarongo! Listen, listen to the cry of the bird, calling bind, join, be one – this was his favorite tauparapara – bind within, bind without, bind above, bind below. Tie the knots of humankind, the night hears, the night hears, bind the lines of people coming down, from great Hawaiki, from long Hawaiki, from Hawaiki far away, bind to the spirit, to the day light, to the World of Light. Kia ora.

(Applause)

Chris Szekely: Dame Anne, e te rangatira, tēnā koe i tō kōrero i tēnei pō. I whakahonoretia i a mātou i ōu whakaaro. Thank you.

A politician, a photographer, and a librarian, three men in a boat paddling up a river. That could have been a terrible joke, joke but those men figuratively Ngata, MacDonald, and Andersen. It has been nothing terrible about this evening and we weren't expecting jokes. We were expecting knowledge and expecting wisdom and that's what we've had delivered to us tonight.

We were expecting you last year. And I note early in your presentation, you talked about this lecture being some 30 years late. I was in this auditorium 30 years ago listening to Sharon Dell who was then the keeper of the collections, introducing a lecture from you. At that time I was a library assistant deep in the bowels of this building ironing Māori language newspapers in preparation for microfilming.

The tools have changed one of the things that pricked my ears up when you were talking about the technologies. The technologies that those boys from Te Aute recognised and adopted and adapted for their own means. You got to wonder about what was in the water at Te Aute because it was such magnificence that came out of that school at that time.

I am greatly optimistic when I see some of the scholars that come to this place today. You mentioned some of them. Often they are young, they are Māori, they're interested in the sources that are in this place. And they're interested in marrying that up with what they know. What they know of their whakapapa what they know from their whānau. And that's exactly as it should be.

The circularity, 30 years ago I was in a place and I heard you talk. For me that is about the takarangi spiral, that never ending circularity. We can zoom in the past and pop out into the future. And that's what research is about. It's about drawing on those sources and coming up with new knowledge. The infinite nature of new knowledge. How appropriate that the title of your talk was Knowledge as a Blessing on the Mind because that's what this place is about. It is about searching for the evidence, looking to a variety of sources to generate new knowledge.

How appropriate that it is you giving essentially The Centenary Founder Lecture. A few months late nevertheless, but it was worth the wait. I am about to invite you all to join us upstairs on the next floor. And I'm about to regale you with an advertisement because this is at long last our centenary year realised. And one of the things I want you to note when you go to the first floor or to the ground floor rather is one the takarangi spiral which adorns our walls and various motifs. It was never put there to be pretty or to be decorative. It was put there as a reference to older forms of knowledge and what this place was about.

I also encourage you to peek through the glass at the National Library gallery. So you can get an advanced peek, albeit through a glass wall, of our centenary exhibition which opens on Friday. You will see a couple of things. You'll see in ancient cuneiform, a stone tablet with ancient writings chiselled into it in a language that probably none of us can decipher. What that tablet is about is about whakapapa. Whakapapa from other parts of the world that have a connection to where we are here today.

I want you also to note the tremendous new artwork commissioned especially for our centenary year from artist Matthew McIntyre Wilson. It is a series of hīnaki, nets. And on that note, I would like to give Alexander Turnbull the final word when he said, "Anything that whatever relating this colony on its history flora, fauna, geology, and inhabitants, will be fish for my net from as early a date as possible until now." Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in thanking Dame Anne Salmond.

(Applause)

Any errors with the transcript, let us know and we will fix them: digital-services@dia.govt.nz


Annual Founder Lecture

Join us for the annual Founder Lecture and hear from Dame Anne Salmond. Dame Anne is a Distinguished Professor of Māori Studies and Anthropology at the University of Auckland, whose profoundly significant books have helped New Zealanders understand themselves and appreciate their cultural heritage. She is also a passionate supporter of the Alexander Turnbull Library.

The Friends of the Turnbull Library will provide refreshments after the lecture.

RSVP now for your seat

Seats are limited so book your seat now by emailing turnbullfriends@gmail.com.

About Alexander Turnbull

The Library’s founder, Alexander Horsburgh Turnbull, was born on 14 September 1868. He developed a passion for collecting everything he could that was published in, or about, New Zealand and the Pacific, and to significant works of literature.

When he died on 28 June 1918 Turnbull made what was described in the ‘New Zealand Times’ in July 1918 as ‘the most generous bequest to the people of New Zealand since the beginning of New Zealand Time’. The collection comprised over 55,000 books, along with thousands of original artworks, prints and maps.

These collections have been built through donation, bequest, legal deposit and targeted purchase, to contain millions of items in many different formats. The Turnbull Library opened to the public on 28 June 1920.

Learn more about Alexander Turnbull and his library

A Friends of the Turnbull Library event.

About the speaker

Dame Anne Salmond is a Distinguished Professor of Māori Studies and Anthropology at the University of Auckland, and a leading social scientist. She is the first New Zealander to be elected a fellow of both the US National Academy of Sciences and the British Academy. A former Vice-President (Social Sciences and Humanities) of the Royal Society of New Zealand and the first social scientist to be awarded the Rutherford Medal, New Zealand’s top scientific prize, she is also deeply involved in New Zealand’s public life as a scholar and communicator.

In 2013 she was chosen as the Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year. Dame Anne Salmond is the author of many significant books on New Zealand’s histories. These include ‘Amiria: the life story of a Māori woman’ (1976), ‘Two worlds: first meetings between Maori and Europeans, 1642-1772 (1991) ‘The trial of the cannibal dog: Captain Cook in the South Seas’ (2003), and ‘Tears of Rangi: Experiments Across Worlds’ (2017) Anne Salmond is the host of the ‘Artefact’ documentary series with Māori TV.

In August 2020 Dame Anne was awarded the Caird Medal from the UK’s National Maritime Museum for her ‘great contributions to scholarly and public understanding of Māori history, the history of Pacific voyaging and cross-cultural exchange’.

Check before you come

Due to COVID-19 some of our events can be cancelled or postponed at very short notice. Please check the website for updated information about individual events before you come.

For more general information about National Library services and exhibitions have look at our COVID-19 page.

Woman sitting at a desk in front of lots of bookshelves, wearing gloves and looking at heritage books.
Distinguished Professor Dame Anne Salmond is a of Māori Studies and Anthropology at the University of Auckland. Photograph supplied.