29 Apr 2010

Historians urged to read Maori language sources

3:42 pm on 29 April 2010

The author of a book on pioneer anthropologist Elsdon Best says historians need to read accounts written in the Maori language to do justice to New Zealand history.

Jeffrey Paparoa Holman says his own studies were helped by correspondence in the National Archives from Elsdon Best's main informant, Tutangahau.

Dr Holman told Waatea News that Maori are unique in colonial history in the western world, in that they came to literacy very early and left a written record of their thoughts and feelings about everything.

"There's a treasure trove in our national archive that's waiting to be explored by scholars, Maori and Pakeha, but you first of all need some literacy in Maori," he says.

Dr Holman says understanding Tuhoe history would help people understand the demands the iwi is now making for ownership and control of Te Urewera National Park.

He says too much New Zealand history has been one-sided because it's written by people who don't understand Maori.