Book Review: Mauri Ora – Wisdom From the Maori World, by Peter Alsop and Te Rau Kupenga

Available now in bookshops nationwide.

cv_mauri_oraMauri Ora is a beautiful book of Maori whakatauki (proverbs) that are grouped into themes and illustrated with photos from a variety of artists. Each whakatauki and image are carefully matched and the overall impression is of a carefully curated book.

The authors explain the point of their book is “to share the gifts of cultural knowledge to new audiences in a new and engaging way.” By drawing on the distilled knowledge and wisdom of whakatauki important lessons are passed on – both day to day function wisdom but also the knowledge to cement cultural values into new generations.

The six themes in the book are matauranga/ wisdom, maia/ courage, atawhai/ compassion, ngakau tapatahi/ integrity, whakahautanga/ self-mastery and whakapono/ belief. Each whakatuaki is in both Te Reo and English.

The images that match the whakatauki in each section were selected to provide a visual match to the proverb. They are not subsidiary to the wisdom, rather by themselves they contribute to the visual history of Aotearoa. The printing of the images is beautiful and clear. I was transfixed, and have gone slowly through the book, looking at the images and whakatauki together and leaving with a deeper sense of understanding of New Zealand’s history.

This book arrived for review the morning after the recent earthquakes here in New Zealand. As I looked through this book the next day I was taken by an image of an enormous crayfish. Shortly afterwards I learnt of the marae feeding stranded tourists and homeless locals crayfish. I’m sure many visitors left New Zealand with a genuine taste of manaakitanga.

I can think of so many different groups of people who would love to receive this as a gift – it would be great for anyone who enjoys books with wise advice, those looking to improve their Te Reo, teachers, parents – just about anyone. A beautiful book.

Review by Emma Rutherford

Mauri Ora – Wisdom From the Maori World
by Peter Alsop and Te Rau Kupenga
Published by Potton & Burton
ISBN 9780947503147