Te Ao o te Whaikōrero
Te Ao o te Whaikōrero, the ‘world of Māori oratory’, explores the complexity of Māori oratory, both past and present. What makes whaikōrero more than merely a theatrical speech is the origin and function of the various components, the rites associated with the selection and qualification of its exponents, and its delivery. This thesis delves into the underlying philosophies inherent in whaikōrero which impact on, and are influenced by, a diverse range of systems within the Māori world, its culture, etiquette, and belief system. We must also recognise the effect of colonisation and urbanisation on Māori practices. Whaikōrero is tragically undermined by some of its ‘performers’ and observers alike, and possibly, through ignorance, arrogance and complacency, a sense of disregard has developed about its true value. The effect of this is whaikōrero of inferior quality. With this in mind, this thesis expounds the ‘underlying philosophies’ of whaikōrero through both oral and literary sources, as well as objective and subjective discussion. The chapters illustrate the inter-tribal, intra-tribal, and individual variations which make each delivery of whaikōrero unique. The thesis begins with the origin of whaikōrero, after which modes of learning and the acquisition of whaikōrero are discussed. This provides the basis to discuss the locations where whaikōrero takes place and who is permitted to deliver whaikōrero. Having designated the people to deliver whaikōrero and their ‘space’ for delivery there is an exploration of the speaker, and the attributes which qualify a particular individual, or the type of delivery that is acceptable. The issue of ‘quality’, or lack of it, is of paramount importance in terms of the mana of the individual performer, and the people (s)he represents. The range of information discussed up to this point is historical and tracks the evolution of whaikōrero to the present; the conclusion, therefore, also addresses some of the issues raised which are potentially challenging in regard to current adherence to custom and etiquette. This opens the window into the future of whaikōrero, and what adaptations may lie ahead. Perhaps with broader, and more in-depth discussion, and in particular, the explanation of the diversity of whaikōrero, this thesis will provide a) a means by which the spirit of older whaikōrero can be reinvested in the modern context by current and potential orators, and b) raise the awareness of speakers whereby they themselves can seek excellence in their own whaikōrero. Perhaps with an invigorated approach to both the delivery, observance, and a more informed appreciation of whaikōrero, there will be a resurgence of excellence in whaikōrero.
Degree Name: Doctor of Philosophy
Degree Discipline: Te Tumu, School of Māori, Pacific and Indigenous Studies
Keywords: korero; whaikorero; oratory; Maori oratory; speech; Maori speechmaking; knowledge transmission; oral tradtion; oral transmission; tikanga; custom; culture; language; dialect; Maori language; Maori dialect; dissemination; oral art; marae
Research Type: Thesis
This thesis is the first to be written and submitted entirely in the Māori language only at the University of Otago.