whakatauki, Keri Hulme, Maori tribe, Witi Ihimaera, Patricia Grace
The modern literary canon of New Zealand was founded by Katherine Mansfield, one of the 20th-centuryís greatest short-story writers. Mansfield launched her writing career in England, but the influence of her New Zealand upbringing pervades her work. Female writers have long predominated in New Zealand fiction writing, especially the novel. Janet Frame, Keri Hulme, Margaret Mahy, Margaret Sutherland, Fiona Kidman, and Sylvia Ashton-Warner are just a few of New Zealandís many acclaimed female writers. Important male writers include Maurice Shadbolt, Maurice Gee, Witi Ihimaera, Vincent OíSullivan, and Owen Marshall. Along with Hulme and Ihimaera, contemporary Maori writers include Patricia Grace and Alan Duff. Maori-authored works such as Graceís Mutuwhenua (1978) address difficult questions of biculturalism and the survival of the Maori community and culture.
James K. Baxter, author of Beyond the Palisade (1944) and other poetry collections, is widely regarded as New Zealandís preeminent poet. Maori poet Hone Tuwhare published the first major Maori poems in English, drawing on his Maori oral tradition and urban working-class life. His direct, lyrical verse and command of the vernacular are evident in his collections No Ordinary Sun (1964) and Sapwood and Milk (1973).
The oral literary tradition is a vital part of Maori society. Traditional Maori literature consists of history, tales, poems, and legends, all of which have been preserved through the generations by oral recitation. The Polynesian ancestors of the Maori established tribal kin groups in defined territories, following Polynesian custom. Each group produced a complex oral tradition concerning all aspects of its life. Some traditions were exclusive to the Maori tribe that composed them; others came to be known and used universally. The strikingly poetic language of the compositions aided their memorization and recitation. The main types of composition are whakapapa (genealogy), karakia (incantations), korero (narratives), whakatauki (sayings), and waiata (sung poetry).
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