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'Kōrero Tuku Iho': Reconfiguring Oral History and Oral Tradition

The studies of oral history and oral tradition each have their own distinctive bodies of literature and preferred methodologies, yet share significant overlaps that make them difficult to differentiate. For many indigenous peoples, oral histories and traditions are key to their their past, present, and future lives, and are rarely considered separate. This thesis examines the differences and similarities between the studies of oral history and oral tradition. It explores how these areas of research converge and diverge in form, politics, practice, and theory, and the extent to which they resonate within a specific ‘indigenous’ context and community. The thesis draws on the life narrative interviews of four generations of Ngāti Porou descendents, the second largest tribal group in New Zealand, whose home boundaries extend from Potikirua in the north to Te Toka-a-Taiau in the south on the East Coast of the North Island. Drawing on these voices, this study offers a commentary on the form and nature of oral traditions and histories from an indigenous perspective, and explores the ways they converge and depart from ‘international’ understandings. An exploration of these intersections offers insights to the ways oral history and oral traditions might be reconsidered as distinctive fields of study. Reconfigured through an indigenous frame of reference, this thesis challenges scholars of both oral history and oral tradition to expand their conceptions. Likewise, it urges indigenous scholars to consider more deeply the work of oral historians and oral traditionalists to further enhance their scholarship. Moreover, this thesis revisits the intellectual and conceptual territory that names and claims oral history and oral tradition, and invites all those who work in these areas to develop a more extensive comprehension of the interconnections that exist between each area of study.
Type of thesis
Mahuika, N. (2012). ‘Kōrero Tuku Iho’: Reconfiguring Oral History and Oral Tradition (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/6293
University of Waikato
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