MAOR285-23S1 (C) Semester One 2023

Oral Traditions and Modern Histories of Ngai Tahu

15 points

Start Date: Monday, 20 February 2023
End Date: Sunday, 25 June 2023
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 5 March 2023
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Sunday, 14 May 2023


The story of Ngai Tahu is a fascinating example of a small impoverished community of tribal members who by the 1970s had been reduced to a membership of less than 400. Within two decades this tribe had emerged as one of the largest corporations in the South Island with a tribal membership of over 40,000. It is the largest land-owner in the South Island with significant interests in fisheries and tourism. Explaining how and why this happened will be one of the core themes of this course. The first part of this course will look at the oral traditions and myths of Ngai Tahu with a particular emphasis on narrative templates and how these templates are reproduced in the oral traditions that outline the tribe's migration from Wellington to the South Island. The second part of the course will look at Ngai Tahu's movement from its pre-contact era to initial contact with early explorers, the settler government and the subsequent land transactions that ran from 1844 to 1864. The course will then finish with an overview of how Ngai Tahu and the Crown negotiated on the largest Treaty settlement packages in the nation's history.

Within a few decades Ngāi Tahu exploded in size from a reduced, impoverished, small farming community to controlling nearly a billion dollars in assets. Where less 400 members progressed to over 60,0000, now as the largest land owner in New Zealand, this tribe is a major influence in New Zealand’s economy and society. The paper begins by examining the oral traditions of Ngāi Tahu in order to recognise particular narratives that are reproduced in the tribe’s migration tradition from Wellington to the South Island. The second part explores the tribe from pre-contact era, subsequent land transactions of 1844-1864, then finishes on an overview of how Ngāi Tahu and the Crown negotiated on the largest Treaty settlement package in the nation's history.

It’s difficult to live in the South Island and not have a concept of what or who Ngāi Tahu is, but what do we really know?
• Who are Ngāi Tahu, are they a tribe of people, are they a business? How has this changed through the years?
• How do we know the history of Ngāi Tahu, what are their histories and what can they tell us?
• What is it about Ngāi Tahu as a people and an organisation that contributed to an explosive rise economically, politically, and socially?

Themes through this course are
• Migration and colonisation
• History of the Ngāi Tahu People
• Ngāi Tahu Settlement Process
• Explosive expansion

Learning Outcomes
Students will
• Have a broad understanding of the history of Ngāi Tahu
• Understand the factors that have seen Ngāi Tahu’s rise in New Zealand
• Understand the Waitangi Tribunal and Treaty settlement process

Why this Paper?
Papers in Māori are increasingly popular amongst employers and opens pathways towards:
• Policy analyst in Māori and Government organisations
• Community development roles especially within Māori and Iwi sectors
• Professional social services, education, and health sector roles that interface with Iwi and Māori organisations.
• Liaison roles
• Multiple opportunities in further Māori and Indigenous Research
• Police
• Law

Transferrable Skills
This course contributes to the development of the following transferable skills

• Critical analysis
• Academic Writing
• Compare and contrast
• Cultural awareness
• Maori world view


Any 15 points at 100 level from HIST, MAOR, or
TREO, or
any 60 points at 100 level from the Schedule V of the BA.


Equivalent Courses

Course Coordinator

Martin Fisher


Martin Fisher


Assessment Due Date Percentage  Description
Essay 30% 2500 word research essay
Final Examinaton 50%
Tutorial assignment 20% 3 assessments - 1x 1000 words, 2x500 words

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $821.00

International fee $3,750.00

* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.

For further information see Aotahi School of Maori and Indigenous Studies .

All MAOR285 Occurrences

  • MAOR285-23S1 (C) Semester One 2023