Birth of the Universe

Birth of the Universe : Te Whanautanga o te Ao Tukupu

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Why did the Maori, of the Wairarapa in particular, come to write down their oral traditions? How did they do it? And what was changed, or lost, in the translation from oral to literal? These are the questions Professor Agathe Thornton examines in relation to oral traditions of the Wairarapa, and the stories she chooses to compare are major parts of the areas's cosmogony (Cosmogony is the story of how the cosmos came into existence). Of great importance are the dictation of stories from the heavenly world; the Separation of Rangi and Papa, and the ascent of Tane to Io for the Sacred Stones. In the Wairarapa, stories of the heavenly world were recited by three tohunga; Te Matorohanga, Pohuhu and Te Okawhare. Professor Thornton's conclusions provide insight into the way in which the tohunga shaped his narrative performance, as well as commenting on cosmogony stories of greater Polynesia and the relevance of Maori oral traditions in the present day.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 288 pages
  • 153 x 240mm
  • Auckland, New Zealand
  • 079000948X
  • 9780790009483

About Agathe Thornton

Professor Agathe Thornton, now 92, is the author of Virgil as a Classicist (1975) and continues her academic work in this examination of cosmogony and oral traditions of the Wairarapa area. She lives in Dunedin.
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