Māori-English Tutor and Vade Mecum

Author: Henry M Stowell
Published: 1913
Publisher: Whitcombe and Tombs Limited

Vade MecumLast week I was fortunate enough to buy an old book called ‘Māori-English Tutor and Vade Mecum’ written by Henry M Stowell (aka Hare Hongi) and published in 1913. The book was the result of three years of scholarly research in order to address concerns about 1) language discrepancies found in other works at the time that were pedagogically pernicious, 2) academic attitudes and 3) a general lack of comprehensive studies done on the Māori language. Therefore, it provided an extensive description of the Māori language and aspects of Māori sociocultural concepts. It was designed to be a manual or reference book that people could carry around with them (i.e. vade mecum) who were interested in learning the language. I believe it serves as a reminder for a need for more extensive and intense study on the Māori language in teaching and learning per se, despite present day advancements. In the preface of the book, Stowell remarks…

As there are already available several hand-books on the Maori language, including grammars and vocabularies, it may seem surprising to some that another should now be added to the list. It cannot however be denied by scholars, that the efforts of previous writers are not altogether adequate to the scientific study of the subject. This remark is not intended to depreciate the merits of other works, but is assigned as a reason for the present production.

No doubt during this time, these other several hand-books on the Māori language would have probably referred to the works of Lee, Kendall, Maunsell, Tregear, Williams and perhaps Aubert. And since that time, ongoing and assiduous research has flourished into a comprehensive and scientific study on the Māori language that perhaps even Stowell couldn’t foresee and would envy.

An electronic version of this book is also available on-line in various reading formats via ‘Internet Archives’. Click here to select your preference.

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