First published between 1887 and 1890, this six-volume work, containing Maori texts with English translations and commentary, and engraved illustrations, was one of the first printed records of the oral traditions of the Maori. The project was commissioned by the New Zealand government in 1879 when it was observed that, due to the introduction of European culture and education, indigenous traditions were in danger of dying out. The material was collected by John White (1826-91), an ethnographer, public servant and writer who had arrived in New Zealand as a boy and first began documenting Maori poetry in the 1840s. Volume 1, published in 1887, includes narratives about the Horouta canoe, the first Maori gods and the creation of humans. The preface explains that although by this time many Maori had become Christians, certain passages in the myths were still deemed too sacred (tapu) to be revealed to outsiders.
Title: The Ancient History of the Maori, His Mythology and Traditions Vol 1
Author: White, John
Publication date: 03/11/2011
Publisher: Cambridge Library Collection