Tāngata Ngāi Tahu: People of Ngāi Tahu book longlisted for Ockham New Zealand Book Awards

Nov 30, 2017

Tāngata Ngāi Tahu: People of Ngāi Tahu, a book celebrating the rich and diverse lives of 50 Ngāi Tahu people, has been launched to coincide with the 20 year anniversary of the Ngāi Tahu Deed of Settlement – and has been long listed for the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards 2018.

The book, published by Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu and Bridget Williams Books, was presented to iwi members at the Ngāi Tahu biennial festival, Hui-ā-Iwi held at Tuahiwi Marae last weekend. It has been longlisted in the General Non-Fiction category of the book awards.

Edited by Helen Brown and Takerei Norton from the Ngāi Tahu Archive team, Tāngata Ngāi Tahu: People of Ngāi Tahu features 50 biographies of Ngāi Tahu whānau members, spanning time, geography and kaupapa – bringing 200 years of tribal history into the present.

Whānau listening to Helen Brown speaking at the Tāngata Ngāi Tahu book launch.

The biographical subjects have each contributed to their iwi, hapū and whānau in myriad ways. They include tohunga and rangatira, community leaders, champions of Te Kerēme (the Ngāi Tahu Claim), activists and scholars, fishermen and farmers, sportspeople, weavers, musicians, and many more. All are descendants of Waitaha, Ngāti Māmoe and Ngāi Tahu; united by whakapapa, they are Tāngata Ngāi Tahu.

Lisa Tumahai, Kaiwhakahaere, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, says Ngāi Tahu whānau have been at the heart of the project.

“The research process involved countless interviews with whānau across Aotearoa,” says Lisa.

“Seeing this taonga is quite overwhelming – I feel privileged and humbled to read the stories of our tīpuna,” she says.

“This taonga is the first in a series of biographies books that beautifully capture our unique tribal history,” says Lisa.

Tā Tipene O’Regan and Bill (Blackie) Tini at the Tāngata Ngāi Tahu book launch.

Te Pae Kōrako, the Ngāi Tahu Archive Advisory Committee guided the publication, which is intended as the first in a series of biographical volumes. Chair of Te Pae Kōrako, Tā Tipene O’Regan says: “This first volume reflects the aspiration of Te Pae Kōrako and the Ngāi Tahu Archive to steadily disseminate quality cultural content amongst our people… Tāngata Ngāi Tahu is a welcome and enriching addition to our tribal library.”

Contributing authors of Tāngata Ngāi Tahu: People of Ngāi Tahu include esteemed tribal historians, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu Archive Team staff, history students, and several whānau members writing for publication for the first time.

The book is beautifully and generously illustrated with photographs sourced from family collections, the Ngāi Tahu Archive and external institutions. Together these images constitute a tribal family album.


Tā Tipene O’Regan, Bubba Thompson, David Higgins and Takerei Norton at the Tāngata Ngāi Tahu book launch.

Tāngata Ngāi Tahu includes a brief contextual history of Ngāi Tahu by Dr. Michael J. Stevens and a foreword by Tā Tipene O’Regan. As Stevens says: “By collectively knowing the people in these pages, we continue the important task of collectively knowing ourselves.”

The book is part of the broader work of the Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu Archive Team, whose primary aim is to gather Ngāi Tahu knowledge and make it accessible to Ngāi Tahu people. At the tribal hui last weekend, the Archive Team also launched Kā Huru Manu – an online Ngāi Tahu atlas that is the culmination of more than a decade of dedicated work by Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, kaumātua and Ngāi Tahu marae communities throughout the South Island.

Tāngata Ngāi Tahu: People of Ngāi Tahu is now available to purchase from book stores. It is also available for purchase online via the Ngāi Tahu website.