Te Manu Tukutuku (the Maori Kite)

Kite“Heritage is a precious taonga” it says in the introduction t0 Bob Maysmor’s book Te Manu Tukutuku.  Traditional kite-making knowledge and skills are brought to life in the pages of this edition.

In Otautahi, Christchurch, Kite Day is celebrated on the last Saturday of January every year. In 2011 it takes place on the afternoon of Saturday, 29 January on the south side of the pier at New Brighton beach.

Kites are part of the heritage of many different cultures.  For indigenous New Zealanders, kites were used for recreation and were also part of a spiritual tradition where the kite represents the connection between the tangata (the people) and the sky-dwelling deities, particularly Rongo (god of peace and cultivated plants) and Tane (god of forests and birds), Tawhaki (god of thunder and lightning) and Rehua (a star who lives in the highest of skies – eldest son of Rangi and Papa).  Maui was also adept at kite-flying and his association with kites has a much more utilitarian connection; when his kite was flying, there would be good weather, suitable for celebrating and for carrying out necessary work.

He KupengaKite-making originated in China, and this skill was picked up by Maori on their southward migration route centuries ago.  Many Polynesian kites are made in the likeness of a bird, representing the soul or spirit of the kite-flyer, hence the term ‘manu’.  Tuku means to pay out so tukutuku means the feeding out of the line as the kite is flown.

The native flora of Aotearoa provided a wide range of materials for kite-makers to use.  The bark of Aute ( paper mulberry)  is especially good for making fibrous cloth.  Leaves of the Raupo ( bullrush)  were also used to cover the kite-frame, particularly in the Southern areas which were unsuitable for growing Aute.  Upoko tangata (cutty grass)  is also recorded as being used for kite-wings. Kareao, Manuka and Toetoe were used for the frames and Harakeke was used for binding and for forming the feet of the birds.

Te Manu Tukutuku features lots of coloured illustrations of locally-made kites held at various museums in Aotearoa and overseas.  Many different types of kites and accessories are illustrated and lots of songs and proverbs featuring kites are scattered throughout the pages of this lavishly-presented pukapuka (book). 

 Particularly large kites were launched with great ceremony and kite-flying contests were held, attracting large crowds.  Instructions on how to make your own manu taratahi (triangular-shaped with a tuft tail – taratahi meaning one point) are at the back of the book if you want to have a go at traditional Aotearoan kite-making.  Bring it down to Brighton on Saturday and join in the kite-flying fun, or just build one and fly it anywhere, anytime!

Nicole Reddington

New Brighton

Dictionary of New Zealand Biography

The Dictionary of New Zealand Biography now has a new home at Te Ara, along with an updated and improved look.

The biographies are a great resource for information about dead New Zealanders, Māori and non-Māori.  Some new biographies have just been added, including one of Hone Tuwhare.

Nga Mihi o te Wa!

Erin Vail
Fendalton Library

He Kupenga

How to structure a mihimihi

He KupengaA mihi is a formal greeting that involves people  introducing themselves and telling us a bit about where they come from. 

 If you have a customer or colleague (maybe someone doing the Treaty Toolbox course!) wanting help preparing a mihi, there is help available via the Māori tab on the library website.  

If you go to the Resources for Learners of te reo Māori pages you can find a guide on how to structure a mihi as well as some links to resources that give Māori versions of place names in New Zealand. 

Erin Vail

Maori women and the vote

PhotoThe Ministry of Women’s Affairs has a resource on Suffrage 2010, and it features information on  Māori Women and the Vote, honouring the active role of  Māori women suffragists:

Māori women were very active in the struggle for the right to vote in both the national parliament and the Māori parliament, Te Kotahitanga, but their story is not well known. To mark Suffrage Day 2010 the Ministry is publishing a web resource on the role of women like Meri Mangakāhia of Te Rarawa, who were prominent in the struggle. The resource is based on information from Māori women and the vote, by Tania Rei (now Tania Rangiheuea), published by Huia in 1993. The assistance of Tania Rangiheuea and Robyn Bargh of Huia Publishers, is gratefully acknowledged.

There is some information on Meri on our page on the Kate Sheppard Memorial as she is one of the women honoured there.

Nāku noa
Donna Robertson
Digitial Library Services

Ti Kouka Whenua

He KupengaTi Kōuka Whenua uncovers the vibrant past of Christchurch and the wider Canterbury region, a past that is hidden as there are only minimal visual reminders of history prior to colonial settlement:

Increasing awareness and knowledge of this rich and intriguing Māori past is the primary aim of this website. We hope that it will enrich your understanding of your surroundings and enhance your current perceptions of the city in which we live … This website will provide some insights into a selection of these places.

Recently we’ve been adding new content from Māori Services. Tangata Rongonui explores some significant historical characters and we are working on adding to the places of Banks Peninsula Horomaka or Te Pataka o Rakaihautū.

Ti Kōuka Whenua is one of the great taonga of the Christchurch City Libraries website, one that only gains in importance as we explore it, learn about our region,  and recommend it to our customers.

Nāku noa
Donna Robertson
Digitial Library Services