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About this site
Tāmata Toiere is a digital gateway to waiata and haka (Māori song, chant, and dance). It is an ongoing project of Te Ipukarea – The National Māori Language Institute that aims to research, collect, preserve, and disseminate waiata and haka. The concept of Tāmata Toiere was first discussed in 2004. However, it was not until 2008 that work began on the site. Tāmata Toiere is free to access as it is a non-profit project. The site aims to be comprehensive and has the capacity to hold print, images, and media files, both audio and visual.
Motivation behind the establishment of Tāmata Toiere
The Māori language is traditionally an exclusively oral language. Therefore, Māori knowledge, histories and traditions have been preserved and disseminated through the oral tradition. This rich Māori oral tradition has taken on many forms, including waiata and haka, which are identified as Māori poetry and literature and have been likened to the archives of the Māori people, preserving important historical and cultural knowledge.
Waiata and haka are traditional mediums for the transmission of knowledge including tribal history, politics, historical landmarks, genealogy and environmental knowledge while also acting as traditional forms of expression for the articulation of anger, sadness, love and desire.
Waiata and haka are important for the survival of the Māori language and culture. In this sense, they are bound to Māori identity. However, many are being lost through time and with them, our knowledge base regarding the meaning behind the words. This is exaggerated by the fact that waiata and haka contain the highest form of language utilising proverb and figurative speech.
It is against this background that Tāmata Toiere was created. We hope that Tāmata Toiere will contribute in some small way to the preservation and dissemination of waiata and haka. Furthermore, we strive to live up to the example set by works such as the Ngā Mōteatea series.
The meaning of ‘Tāmata Toiere’
The name ‘Tāmata Toiere’ was gifted by Dr. Te Wharehuia Milroy. The following is Dr. Milroy's explanation behind the meaning of Tāmata Toiere:
Tāmata: means a new cultivation. This website is ‘breaking new ground’ by using modern technology to affect a fertile ground for growing the seeds of Māori traditions and history.
Toiere: means a type of hautū chant or song that in one sense draws the participants into united activity (such as paddling a canoe). The toiere also starts or begins the journey on the ‘river of knowledge’ for those seeking to find distant horizons of the past, and so brings them into the future through Te Ipurangi.
Like paddling a canoe, the whole context is interactive; one is in a synchronous state with the flow of water. In the website, one is in a synchronous context with the flow of knowledge that is derived from paddling through the currents of information; you can negotiate, you can berth your waka, and start again. ‘Whāia te pae tawhiti kia tata, ko te pae tata whakamaua kia tīnā.’