Tikanga Māori: Living by Māori Values

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Huia Publishers, 2003 - Social Science - 398 pages

Here is an authoritative and accessible introduction to tikanga Maori. It is essential reading for all who seek to understand the correct Maori ways of doing things as they were in the past, as they are in the present--and as they may yet be.

In this wide-ranging book Hirini Moko Mead explores the creative arts and interactions between older and newer social groupings such as iwi and urban Maori authorities; he develops approaches to problems such as violent crime and substance abuse; and he surveys the ways that tikanga guides relationships between people, with the Gods and the land. He also discusses ways that tikanga Maori may help us to direct our stance towards present-day bioethical problems raised by technological advances in areas such as genetic engineering and inter-species organ modification, and he proposes guidelines to help us to test appropriate responses to challenges that may yet be laid down.

Tikanga has emerged as a new area of study, as a field of great opportunities for research and as a body of knowledge that needs to be taught in our schools. It is a set of protocols and a basket of knowledge that our leaders and educators need to know in order to be more effective in what they do. It is knowledge that our people need to understand, discuss, debate and pass on to others. There is every indication that tikanga Maori will become more important in the years to come rather than the reverse. It has come out of hiding and is now in the bright light of day.

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This is the definitive book in english about Tikanga Māori. I am honoured to have been a student of Uncle Sid at Vic Uni, and to have travelled with him, Aunty June and Hinauri Beth to the Te Māori Exhibition in Chicago. What I did not fully understand was that Te Māori was not only showcasing ourselves to the world, but it was also enabling our elders to firm up, and in some instances revive, the cultural practises, mores and values that underpin how we as a people, and as iwi and hapu do things. It's not that we did not know what to do. It was that for various reasons, our culture had been overtaken by western, christian practises, and we were not doing what we knew was our way. (To be fair, there have always been pockets of cultural practice who maintained the old ways, in places like Tuhoe and Waikato.) So nationally, we had to give ourselves permission to be ourselves again, and this is what Te Māori represented: a permission space and a gathering of collectives that helped us to do, be and think as ourselves again in the most fitting of occassions - showcasing our innermost selves via our traditional art to the world. There is no finer book in English in my opinion that describes our journey and our practises. Ngā mihi ki a koe e te Pāpā e Hirini.  

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very helpful for understanding Māori cultural concepts

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Introduction to Tikanga Maori
The Nature of Tikanga Maori
Underlying Principles and Values
The Tapu of the Person
The Tapu of Places and Things
The Ceremonial Courtyard
Welcome Ceremonies
Ceremonies of the Dead
The Behaviour of People
Creativity and Performance
Identity and Land
New Life
Extensions of Tikanga Maori
The Fires That Flare Up
It Is Done

The Concept of Ritual Compensation
Peace Agreements
Gift Giving
Ritual Prohibitions
Social Groupings

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About the author (2003)

Sir Hirini Moko Mead is a pre-eminent Mā ori writer, commentator and scholar. In the course of a distinguished academic career he authored numerous books on Mā ori art (including Te Toi Whakairo: The Art of Maori Carving, with Oratia Books) and developed the first Department of Mā ori Studies in the country at Victoria University. He was knighted in 2009 for services to Mā ori and education. A leader of his iwi (tribe) Ngā ti Awa, he lives in Wellington, New Zealand.

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