Myths from Murihiku.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
This thesis presents, in a newly edited and annotated form, a collection of Maori language texts recorded by the Rev. J. F. H. Wohlers in the far south of the South Island of New Zealand in approximately 1850. There are introductory analyses and translations. A general introduction discusses the relationships which exist between these narratives and comparable narratives existing in the North Island, and elsewhere in Polynesia. The Rev. J. F. H. Wohlers was a German Lutheran missionary who arrived on Ruapuke Island in Foveaux Strait in 1844, and lived there until his death in 1885. He recorded traditions which were related to him by the local Waitaha/Kāti Māmoe/Kāi Tahu people. They provide the main record of South Island mythology to have survived, and they are also one of the most important collections of narratives concerning traditional Maori lore and religious traditions in the country as a whole. Although Wohlers made certain corrections to make the texts conform to perceived linguistic norms, in vocabulary and idiom these narratives reveal distinctive South Island dialectal forms. When themes and motifs in these narratives are compared with related material from other parts of Polynesia, much can be discovered about their meanings, and the processes of oral transmission which have shaped and preserved them. In content, this collection contains myths about the earliest ancestors (Rangi and Papa and their children), who formed the earth and sky, and created life on earth and the natural phenomena and resources necessary to sustain life. Other narratives tell of the acquisition by humankind of useful or necessary arts or activities, and the origins of the correct rituals for such activities as farming, fishing and taking revenge on enemies. Others are stories of adventurous encounters with witches and monsters. Many of these traditions are unique to this collection.