He Atua, He Tipua, He Takata Rānei: The Dynamics of Change in South Island Māori Oral Traditions
Thesis DisciplineMaori Studies
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
The aim of this thesis is to undertake a theoretical analysis of the dynamics of change in pre-Ngāi Tahu and Ngāti Māmoe oral traditions of Te Waipounamu to gain a deeper understanding of their nature, function, evolution and meaning. For the purposes of this thesis a framework will be established to classify changes to encompass different types of alterations made pre-contact and post-contact to authentic and un-authentic oral traditions. This model will analyse the continuum of change and will be applied in later chapters to pre-Ngāi Tahu and Ngāti Māmoe traditions to gain an understanding of the dynamics, evolution and construction of the oral traditions of Te Waipounamu. This study of the morphology of tradition will demonstrate they were never fixed but evolved alongside their communities as they adapted to ensure tribal identity and mana was firmly entrenched in their local landscape.
A major component of this thesis will be analysis of Waitaha traditions centring upon three key questions; firstly who were Waitaha peoples, secondly, where were they from, and thirdly, were they, and do they continue to be separate social units? This thesis will contribute to this discussion by analysing literature concerning pre-Ngāi Tahu and Ngāti Māmoe tribal identities to ascertain not just who they were and where they were from but how their identities have been constructed and modified over time. Analysis will examine the role of oral tradition in establishing tribal identity and how Waitaha traditions were changed both pre and post-contact to suit the cultural, political and ideological imperatives of the time, providing an insight into how our ancestors perceived, recollected and constructed the past to suit the needs of the present.
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