Alexander Turnbull Library

The Alexander Turnbull Library is one of the best research collections in the country.

It has all sorts of material relevant to Ngati Porou, from books to historic documents through to whakapapa manuscripts. See below for examples from the amazing staff.

It is based in Wellington, and has excellent staff who can help with your research needs.

Click here to find out how to start your research journey.

Ētahi Taonga nō Ngati Porou

Below, staff from the Alexander Turnbull Library share some of the Ngati Porou taonga held in the collection.

Cellia Joe

Heritage Advice Coordinator, Outreach Services, Alexander Turnbull Library

Mokena Kohere to Donald McLean, 1867

Letter from Mokena Kohere to McLean. McLean, Donald (Sir), 1820-1877 : Papers. Ref: MS-Papers-0032-0691F-03. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.

The Alexander Turnbull Library holds the largest surviving collection of 19th century letters in te Reo Maori.  These are the Sir Donald McLean Papers. MS Group-1551 and are a part of his inward letters in Maori (1820 – 1877)

This beautiful handwriting belongs to Mokena Kohere.

This group of letters have been transcribed and translated through a collaborative effort.  E Ma: Nga Tuhituhinga ki a Makarini, or the E Ma Project was established in 2005 to transcribe and translate the nearly 3,000 Maori letters from the McLean Papers.

A blog about this collection and who E Ma are can be found here

Here is the transcribed and translated piece for the above letter.

Reel 111a/248  Folder 0691F
4 o nga ra o Hepetema 1867

Ki a Te Makarini

E hoa,

Tena koe. Tenei taku pouri mo te mahi o Te Wikiriwhi, mo te he e rua wahine, he ateha, ko Henare Potae e rua wahine, he ateha. He kanga tenei i nga ture, e rua. He aha te pai o nga moni a te Kawanatanga i moumouria ai mo nga tangata penei, hei whakamanawareka mo nga wahine puremu? Ko taku whakaaro me whaki atu ki a Te Kemara, me mutu te hoatu i nga moni.

Na Mokena Kohere

Port Nicholson
4 September 1867

To McLean


Greetings to you. This is about my disappointment with Te Wikiriwhi, with his having two wives, and he is an assessor, and Henare Potae who has two wives, is also an assessor. This is an insult to the law, these two [wives]. What is the good of the Government’s money being wasted for such men, and for the pleasure of adulterous women? In my view, you should speak to Cameron, and stop their pay.  

From Mokena Kohere

Mereana Taungapeau

Heritage Programme Adviser, Maori Outreach Services

Awarding Te Moananui-a-Kiwa Ngarimu's Victoria Cross, 1943

Posthumous awarding of the Victoria Cross to Te Moananui-a-Kiwa Ngarimu's parents, in Ruatoria. Pascoe, John Dobree, 1908-1972 :Photographic albums, prints and negatives. Ref: 1/4-000692-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.

I like this photo, the whole collection in fact from John Dobree Pascoe - this particular photo shows the parents of Te Moananui a Kiwa Ngarimu being awarded his VC posthumously.  This photo struck a chord with me as it shows a coming together of whanau, hapu and Iwi to honour a young man who fought for our country with valour and honour.  My grandfather served in the Second World War so I have a great interest in the stories of these young men and their families they left behind. I was fortunate enough to visit Ruatoria last year for mahi, and saw where this massive hui took place all those years ago, even now, it was very moving.

Ariana Tikao

Research Librarian, Maori, Arrangement & Description team, Alexander Turnbull Library

Te Kani Te Ua Kōrero, 1958-1966

Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand
Record Title : Te Kani Te Ua
Display Dates : [1954-1973]
Reference Number : 77-014-6/04
Collection Record : Fowler, Leo, fl 1938-1972 : Papers (MS-Group-2244)
Issue Restriction : Unrestricted
Collection Status : PART OF COLLECTION
Issue Status : Issuable ITEM
Quantity : 1 folder(s)

Scope and Contents : Correspondence, whakapapa, articles, research notes and photographs. Most of the letters are from Te Kani Te Ua to Leo Fowler between 1958 to 1966, plus some undated material. There is also a detailed whakapapa book relating to East Coast whakapapa and histories. Articles relating to Maori history and culture and Maoritanga. Also correspondence from A H & A W Reed.

Illustrations : Two black and white photographic prints of a kapa haka group - possibly Waihirere Maori club

Names : te Ua, Hetekia Te Kani-a-Takirau Kerekere Tuhoe, 1892-1966 (Contributor)
A H & A W Reed (Firm) (Contributor)
Halbert, Rongowhakaata Pere, 1894-1973 (Contributor)

Iwi/Hapu :

Ngati Ira
Te Aitanga a Mahaki
Ngati Porou
Ngati Kahungunu

Subjects :

Ao wairua

Places : Gisborne Region
Language : Maori - whakapapa in Maori
Institution : Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand

Kia ora,

I have chosen the Leo Fowler papers, which have not been digitised, but there is some significant material in there relating to Ngati Porou. I did some enhancement to the records in this collection which we have had for quite a while now, but just last year I put some more in-depth description on to the collection. I have singled out this folder which has some whakapapa and kōrero which Te Kani Te Ua sent to Leo Fowler. As you can see from the record, this item relates to Ngati Porou and some other iwi from Te Tai Rawhiti.

You could access this material by visiting the Alexander Turnbull Library Collection in Wellington

Paul Diamond

Curator, Maori, Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand

The Tokomaru Bay Elephant

Children from Tokomaru Bay, East Coast, riding on an elephant at Wellington Zoo. Pascoe, John Dobree, 1908-1972 :Photographic albums, prints and negatives. Ref: 1/4-000847-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.

There are some wonderful images of Maori in the collection of photos taken by John Dobree Pascoe.  I like this one, because it’s a reminder that photos of Maori aren’t always in the rohe where they are from.  In this case, children from Tokomaru Bay were snapped by Pascoe during their visit to Wellington Zoo.  It’s fortunate that the children’s home town was recorded, so it comes up on a catalogue search.  It’d be great to know who these whanau are; anyone with any ideas can let the library know using the ‘Ask a librarian’ button at the top of our website’s home page:

Chris Szekely

Chief Librarian, Alexander Turnbull Library

Pounamu, Pounamu by Witi Ihimaera

My favourite is Pounamu, Pounamu by Witi Ihimaera. Published in the early seventies, I still remember having these stories read to me at primary school, especially 'A game of cards.' Ihimaera's writing was a breakthrough in contemporary New Zealand fiction, providing a Maori world view through a distinctly Ngati Porou lens. It was possibly also the first book of its type to be translated into Te Reo and published commercially.

Other Taonga

Papers Past is an online collection of historic newspapers. Click here for more...