UC researchers create bibliography of writing by Māori in English

05 February 2018

University of Canterbury researchers have created a comprehensive, online, annotated bibliography of writing by Māori in English, and released it free to the world.

  • Komako_NWS_block

    University of Canterbury researchers (from left to right) Tiana Ratana, Bridget Underhill, Jeanette King and Christopher Thomson have collaborated to create Kōmako, a comprehensive, online, annotated bibliography of writing by Māori in English.

University of Canterbury researchers have created a comprehensive, online, annotated bibliography of writing by Māori in English, and released it free to the world.

The Kōmako (www.komako.org.nz) project, spanning 26 years of work, is based on doctoral research at UC by Dr Bridget Underhill (Ngāti Raukawa), who is also the project’s lead editor.

The website, which covers more than 180 years of writing, has been created both as a tool for those researching Māori writing and as a vehicle for the continued updating and inclusion of new works by Māori writers, “gathering together the great treasury of writing by Māori,” she says.  

“The idea of compiling a bibliography of Māori writers emerged in the early 1990s while I was studying New Zealand literature at the University of Canterbury,” Dr Underhill says.

“This bibliography is part of a movement to reclaim the Māori literary tradition, which has had a history of being marginalised.”

Dr Underhill says there were two stages of the Kōmako journey: the research, compilation and completion of the bibliography towards her PhD from 1992-1998; and the subsequent updating and digitising of the bibliography to create the website from 2003 to the present.

The Kōmako database and website were created by University of Canterbury (UC) Lecturer in Digital Humanities Dr Christopher Thomson, with UC Head of Māori & Indigenous Studies Professor Jeanette King joining the project as an advisor and UC student Tiana Ratana providing research assistance in recent years.

A central goal of the  project – which covers more than 1450 authors – is to return the research to the Māori writing community, Dr Underhill says.

“The bibliography shows the wide range of Māori writing – fiction, non-fiction and traditional Māori genres – and makes many lesser known writers more visible. It is publicly accessible and a central goal was to use the website to return the research to the Māori writing community.”

Since its inception, Dr Underhill has worked in partnership with Te Hā – the Māori writers committee of Toi Māori Aotearoa – Māori Arts New Zealand. The website was launched at Te Hā ki Te Waipounamu Māori writers hui at Rāpaki on 17 October last year.

“Kōmako has been designed for everyone to search and browse, and is a living document which we hope to update and expand” Dr Thomson says.

Any published Māori writer who would like to be included, or update any details, can contact the editor by email: komako.editor@gmail.com.

For further information please contact:

Margaret Agnew, Senior External Relations Advisor, University of Canterbury
Phone: +64 3 369 3631 | Mobile: +64 275 030 168margaret.agnew@canterbury.ac.nz
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