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Ka Ngaro Te Reo Māori Language under siege in the nineteenth century


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Ka Ngaro Te Reo Māori language under siege in the nineteenth century – By Paul Moon

Ka ngaro te reo, ka ngaro taua, pera i te ngaro o te moa. If the language be lost, man will be lost, as dead as the moa.

In 1800, te reo Māori was the only language spoken in New Zealand. By 1899, it was on the verge of disappearing altogether. In Ka Ngaro Te Reo, Paul Moon traces the spiralling decline of the language during an era of prolonged colonisation that saw political, economic, cultural and linguistic power shifting steadily into the hands of the European core.

In this revelatory and hard-hitting account, Moon draws on a vast range of published and archival material, as well as oral histories and contemporary Māori accounts, to chart the tortuous journey of a language under siege in a relentless European campaign to ‘save and civilize the remnant of the Maori Race’. He also chronicles the growing commitment among many Māori towards the end of the nineteenth century to ensure that the language would survive.

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Paul Moon is a Professor of History at Auckland University of Technology, where his research focuses on nineteenth-century New Zealand. In 2003 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society of Arts.

Paul has published biographies of Governors William Hobson and Robert FitzRoy, and of Ngapuhi chief Hone Heke. He has also written several other books on nineteenth-century New Zealand history, including Encounters, which was shortlisted in 2013 for the international Ernest Scott Prize in History. He has worked a s historical adviser for several television documentaries, both local productions and for the BBC, and is a frequent media commentator.


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