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He whare mātātuhi Tūhoe: A Tūhoe re-visioning of English language literary texts

This thesis urges more Māori to undertake iwi-based readings of English language literary texts. I have chosen to privilege my father’s iwi, Ngāi Tūhoe, and to examine what Tūhoetana means to me and how it might thus enrich my reading of texts. In our ancestral tongue, Ngāi Tūhoe have a rich and pronounced history of storytelling, literary composition, analysis and critique. Unfortunately, this richness is woefully underappreciated within the English language literary landscape. Yet, as the ranks of Māori writers swell, along with the diversity of literary forms that Māori create, so too must Māori – and more specifically iwi – literary scholarship flourish, for if we do not critique the texts that are written about, of, and on behalf of us, who will? Throughout this thesis, I use the terms ‘iwi literary scholars’ and ‘iwi literary scholarship’ to consciously and repeatedly remind the reader of the rich, literary legacies residing within iwi archives; I also hope to highlight the exciting and endless possiblitites for the English language literary landscape to be enriched by readings that are founded within these archives – including the histories, everyday experiences and understandings from our tīpuna. Structurally, this thesis is divided into three broad strands. Chapters 1-3 focus on whakawhanaunatana and background information to my research. Because this thesis also represents the singular piece of writing that I wish I had read prior to enrolling in the thesis paper for this Master’s degree, my academic hīkoi – frustrations and all – is a necessary component and is covered in chapter 2. Chapters 4-6 then examine three different types of literary texts created by wāhine. These texts include the short story “Birth Rights” by Ngāi Tahu science fiction and fantasy writer, J.C. Hart (2010), the Instagram post Te Kuharere tapes by Ngāti Kahungungu and Ngāti Tuwharetoa songwriter and storyteller @tekahureremoa (2019) – also known as the performer Ladyfruit – and the young adult novel Dark Souls by Ngāti Wai, Ngāti Manuhiri, and Ngāti Whatua writer, Paula Morris (2011). While 21st century texts published on platforms such as Instagram may not sit easily within a traditional English literary curriculum, and indeed the novelty of these specific forms may well prove fleeting, the ‘everydayness’ of online texts yields rewarding analysis opportunities and is currently amiss within mainstream English literary studies. Each of these analysis chapters contains a focused introduction and conclusion, since chapter 7, the concluding chapter of this thesis, is a letter to future iwi literary scholars. Woven throughout this rangahau is a call for iwi scholars to consciously: engage with the literary traditions of their own iwi; identify the colonial thoughts and motives that they bring to the reading of literary texts; bring their tīpuna to the reading, but let the text itself breathe life into the critique and; consider the genres and types of texts that they critique. Ultimately, this thesis considers how engaging with the literary legacies of our tīpuna might broaden the English language literary landscape and thus enhance the body of iwi literary scholarship in Oceania and beyond.
Type of thesis
Salsano, M. (2021). He whare mātātuhi Tūhoe: A Tūhoe re-visioning of English language literary texts (Thesis, Master of Arts (MA)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/14174
The University of Waikato
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