In waiata our forebears spoke their hearts - in grief and celebration. For many hundreds of years this great oral tradition of song flourished in Aotearoa. During the second half of the nineteenth century, in time of rapid change, Maori scholars recorded for the future the words of thousands of waiata. Their manuscripts were preserved by Pakeha of foresight and commitment, and along with a vast body of other Maori writing they are now accessible in Libraries throughout New Zealand. Margaret Orbell has been working with these manuscripts for 25 years. She has come to occupy a special place in Maori scholarship, having brought to light and translated many ancient texts. In this new anthology she places waiata of the nineteenth century in their social and political setting, conveying the poets' responses to their people's trauma. There is a fascinating richness of detail here about traditional Maori life, with insights into the lives of ordinary people as well as into tribal relations and the interaction of Maori and Pakeha. Margaret also reveals the great skills of the composers - their use of imagery, rhythm and symbolism, and the profound knowledge they convey. Her authoritative and illuminating commentaries will make this collection hugely interesting to a wide range of readers.
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