#MatarikiMash – Matariki wordplay for Mondays!

Matariki Mash

On Mondays for four weeks from 26 June, we wish to test your imagination and your skill with language! Inspired by the New Zealand Book Council’s #ramereshorts weekly Twitter competitions, we’ll be running a special word challenge on Twitter for the 4 weeks of Matariki, every Monday and Wednesday.

We’ll post up two te reo Māori kupu those mornings, as well as one English word. All you need to do is bring your word play skills and include all three words in a tweet-length short story, together with the #MatarikiMash hashtag! See

Many thanks go to the New Zealand Book Council, for letting us borrow their idea:

New Zealand Book Council

#MatarikiMash # 6!

It’s time for another #MatarikiMash challenge! Your words for today are:

  • noho (sit/stay)
  • whānau (family)
  • watch
  • stand

Head over to Twitter to join in!

Wondering what’s going on? On Mondays and Wednesdays for four weeks, test your imagination and your skill with language, and help us celebrate Matariki! Inspired by the New Zealand Book Council’s #ramereshorts weekly Twitter competitions, we’ll be running a special word challenge for the 4 weeks of Matariki, every Monday and Wednesday.

We’ll post up two te reo Māori kupu those mornings, as well as two English words, and all you need to do, is bring your word play skills and include them in a tweet short story, together with the #MatarikiMash hashtag.

We’ll be retweeting entries through the day as they come in.

Matariki Mash

Many thanks go to the New Zealand Book Council, for letting us borrow their idea:

New Zealand Book Council

#MatarikiMash challenge #4

Welcome to another #MatarikiMash challenge! Your words for today are:

  • kura (school, red)
  • whai (follow, string game)
  • practice
  • season

Head over to Twitter to join in!

Wondering what’s going on? On Mondays and Wednesdays for four weeks, test your imagination and your skill with language, and help us celebrate Matariki! Inspired by the New Zealand Book Council’s #ramereshorts weekly Twitter competitions, we’ll be running a special word challenge for the 4 weeks of Matariki, every Monday and Wednesday.

We’ll post up two te reo Māori kupu those mornings, as well as two English words, and all you need to do, is bring your word play skills and include them in a tweet short story, together with the #MatarikiMash hashtag.

We’ll be retweeting entries through the day as they come in.

Matariki Mash

Many thanks go to the New Zealand Book Council, for letting us borrow their idea:

New Zealand Book Council

WWI series: Conscientious Objectors in the Library

“The heroes of war are publicly honoured, and their brave deeds are taught to children… (while) the heroes of peace most often go unrecognised.” So wrote Elsie Locke, in her introduction to Bread and Water, a memoir of New Zealand’s conscientious objectors.

For now more than a year, New Zealand has remembered the sacrifices and experiences of soldiers, nurses and civilians who fought in the First World War. Conscientious objectors, however, are less often spoken of, and uneasily sit on the boundary between these two groups. These were men who, through pacifist, religious, and/or moral conviction, refused to participate in the war. Although often overlooked in our cultural memory of New Zealand’s war experience, conscientious objectors, both around the world and in New Zealand, have certainly left traces in our history. Here at the library, we’re equipped with resources to help you discover the lives and thinking of these men – and of their families and those who their decisions affected.

baxterPerhaps the most well-known of New Zealand’s conscientious objectors is also known internationally. Archibald Baxter was outspokenly against war in the days leading up to conscription in New Zealand, was arrested unawares before being asked if he would sign up, and shipped from jail to jail before being sent to the trenches, to be punished with ‘Field Punishment Number One’, incarcerated in a mental hospital, and eventually sent home to New Zealand. He left a strong legacy of anti-militarism; in his son, Terence John, who was imprisoned as a conscientious objector in WWII, and in his matter-of-fact account of his experiences whilst imprisoned in his book We Will Not Cease. Written in 1939 in England, almost all copies of the book printed were destroyed in the Blitz, and it did not become well-known in New Zealand until the 1960s. Luckily, despite this the book is now available to borrow from the library. Since this time, it “has become a classic of New Zealand literature.”

King and Country Call, by Paul Baker, is a second book about the experience not only of conscientious objectors in WWI, but also about conscription, how it was introduced to New Zealand, and its consequences. It is available to borrow, again from the Central Library.

Conscientious objectors’ lives and convictions are canvassed by the books above, and other titles in our library catalogue, but the details of their lives and beliefs, their principles in their own words, are often to be found in the details of life in archival sources. Army records and newspaper clippings give us another glimpse into conscientious objectors’ lives. PapersPast  is an invaluable online, searchable database of New Zealand newspapers from 1839 until 1948. A search for ‘conscientious objectors’ or the name of a particular figure brings up a huge number of resources.

The National Archives, likewise, provide access to defence personnel files from WWI, which can be viewed online and include details of deployments, conduct and medical files – invaluable resources.

Both these websites, along with many other resources useful for researching our history such as NZHistory.net  and Te Ara, can be accessed from the free internet computers at any Wellington City Library.

Ernest Kilby

In Wellington, last year’s WW100 project honoured not only eight servicemen, and one nurse, but a conscientious objector born and bred in the region, Ernest Kilby of Island Bay. Ernest resisted conscription due to his Open Brethren Christian beliefs, and was imprisoned from 1917-1919. Ernest Kilby’s likeness and story were pasted up in Island Bay as part of the city’s war commemorations. His story, and background information, can be read on the council website.  Accounts of Ernest’s conviction and various trials can also be read on the Papers Past online archive.

Sometimes forgotten, but worth remembering, the conscientious objectors of the First World War still leave their legacy. WWI was the first instance of conscription in New Zealand, and one with mixed results. The resistance of the men who refused it, and their articulate reasons for doing so, provide a counterpoint to our dominant cultural narrative of the war.

“Offspring of the battlefield” – WWI Kiwi soldiers in their own words at WCL

009100 years on from the First World War, there is no shortage of beautifully researched and written books on the subject by historians, sociologists, poets and others. Over the last few months, Wellington City Libraries has highlighted some of these books in our collection. However, our collection doesn’t stop with books written about New Zealanders in the First World War – we also hold those beloved items, original sources – items written and published by New Zealand troops, while still engaged in the war. New Zealand at the Front is one of these – words (and pictures and cartoons) from soldiers’ own pens.


The two editions of New Zealand At the Front (1917 and 1918) were written as an ‘annual’, a yearly magazine stuffed full of poetry, short funny stories, cartoons and drawings. “Written and illustrated”, as the cover boasts, “in France by Men of the New Zealand Division”. The editor’s note introduces the contributions and the men who wrote them:

   The contributions for this book have come from Trench, Dug-out, and Billet. They are the offspring of the Battlefield. … If they have neither the quality of culture nor of genius, at least they … reflect something of the ideas, the temperament, and the life of men who, from a sense of duty, find themselves engaged in a mighty conflict in a strange environment, far from their own land.

These might be modified raptures, but the contents of the annual lived up to their introduction as a reflection of the men who wrote and drew for its pages, many of whom are identified only by initials, or various nom de plumes.


The articles are stuffed with in-jokes and references obviously well-understood among the troops who penned them at the time, but bewildering today. Luckily, the editors seem to have anticipated some difficulties in translation, and provided a handy and tongue-in-cheek glossary for confused readers (a modern reader may wish to have a dictionary handy nevertheless!)

Other sections, and formats, are instantly recognisable. The annual contains many cartoons, often poking fun at officers or other soldiers’ quirks – the familiarity of life in close quarters visible in modern comic strips. Those familiar with the “How my boss sees me/ how my mother sees me/ how my friends see me” internet comic form can even see a distant cousin in one cartoon published in the annual, which compares, wryly, how “the padre sees us”, “higher command ‘seize’ us”, “mademoiselle sees us”, and “Mater sees us” – each sketch wildly different from the others (and proving the point that acute punning transcends time!).

013010The pre-occupations and domestic details of life behind the line loom large in the contents of the annual. From a full-colour watercolour of “Private Purripeef” displaying a haul of cans, to a story of nicknaming friends after “bulla-biff”, to a mournful piece titled “A Tragedy of the Line” – in which the tragic victim of a bombing is revealed to be a can of ‘Fray Bentos’ bully beef – tinned beef recurs as a subject at the top of many minds. Long marches are also a popular subject – a soldier identified only as ‘Rewi’ writes a tragi-comic poem about the significance of good footwear, which including the lines

Boots! Boots! Boots!

Till your latest breath

They will climb the hill to fame,

Trudge the road to Death,

Or march back the road you came.

Although many articles in the annuals are light-hearted or tongue-in-cheek, others are sombre, describing the desolation of their authors’ surroundings. A soldier named only as “Q” submits an article describing the “Red Lodge … as lovely a spot, maybe, as there is in the whole of Flanders”, which he and his companion Bob discovered in a Flemish field. Q writes “Bob said I remember, that it reminded him of a scarlet poppy on the mossy bank” – echoing the now-familiar theme of poppies marking war graves. “It is all changed now,” Q continues, describing the later destruction of the lodge. “Bob was killed on that accursed corner…” It’s possible that Q had read the 1915 poem “In Flanders Fields”, published in Punch, before he wrote his 1917 piece. The image of red poppies marking a war grave or memorial is one we now all recognise.020

The editor, who hoped these annuals would provide an honest reflection of their authors, may have been more right than he knew. The two volumes of New Zealand at the Front display incredible diversity of subjects, tone, and breadth of ability, many contributions beautifully and humorously done. The diversity of the men who wrote and sent in their contributions from “Trench, Dug-out and Billet” is just as apparent as their humour, and leaves us, 100 years later, a fascinatingly direct snapshot of New Zealanders at war.

New Zealand at The Front is held in the New Zealand Reference Stack Collection, and can be requested for viewing at the Second Floor Reference Desk, Central Library.

Nāku te rourou: Pūhā Pesto (And History) On Lazy Afternoons

There’s as many paths to cooking as there are cooks, I’m sure. But last weekend I found myself in the unusual position of starting a recipe because I’d been spending some time with our library rauemi on World War One.

Here at Te Matapihi ki te Ao Nui we’re gearing up, like the rest of the country, for the anniversary of WWI, the Great War as it was known. And we kaitiaki pukapuka who look after the Māori and New Zealand sections, well, we’re researching. Less famous than the 28th Māori Battalion, the “Native Contingent” of Māori men were sent in the Great War to Egypt, to Malta, to Gallipoli, to France and to Belgium. You can read more about this here at New Zealand History Online, or come in to browse our collections on the subject (start here).

Reading about all this got me thinking about the food the ope taua must have eaten on the move in the Mediterranean. I’ve heard stories before of soldiers finding pūhā ki tāwāhi, and a  quick search confirmed for me that pūhā, the sow thistle (and endemic New Zealand variety, sonchus kirkii), is found all over the world. It’s part of Italian peasant cuisine as “Minestra con Pollenta”, and is used as a salad herb in Malta and Greece, where it’s called zohos. Though I have no records, I can well imagine army rations being supplemented by sweet, fresh pūhā, or even combined with more traditional Mediterranean cuisine. And since I hankered for something new to spread on my rēwena bread, Sunday afternoon had me pulling out the blender to mix up an experimental batch of pūhā pesto.

Pesto is a mediterranean spread that can really have anything in it, but in its most common form, it’s a paste made from basil, pine nuts and parmean. Quantities are approximate, but make sure you have:

1 bunch of pūhā (when I was eating it in the rohe o Hauraki, pūhā was always what we called the sow thistle sonchus. I learned, talking to other people since, that watercress (wātakirihi) is sometimes called pūhā as well. But for this recipe I used the less bitter, spikier thistle pūhā)

50g parmesan cheese
50g pine nuts
Juice of ½ lemon
Oil (I used rice bran, but olive oil is standard, and goes with pūhā in Crete)
You’ll also need a blender, unless you want to be shredding leaves and pounding them up for a while.

I only used the tender leaves of the pūhā, and dicarded the stalks and spiky leaves, because I wasn’t about to cook them, which softens their sting. So I plucked off all the leaves and blended them up until finely shredded.

Then, because I wanted to keep a close eye on proportions and what I was doing, I transferred the shredded leaves out of the blender into a measuring jug before adding the pine nuts, grating in the parmesan and, because I don’t have a mortar and pestle anymore, smashing the three ingredients together with the end of a very solid rolling pin. Use your number eight wire ingenuity, and something in your kīhini will work.

Then I added the oil, a drizzle at a time, and mixed it in til it was a nice, spreadable consistency. When I tasted it, the flavours of the pūhā and pine nuts made a very nutty taste, so I squeezed in the juice of half a lemon to help counteract that – it worked nicely. Now is when you can adjust the ingredients as you see fit – more tīhi, more nuts, a little more lemon for the sour taste – I spent a while playing around with the taste. But in the end I had about half a jar of delicious pūhā pesto. The leaves worked really well and it tastes fresh – definitely my new favourite way to eat pūhā!

This I’m sure will go well with rēwena – but since my potato bug (which I’ve discovered is called a kōtero) was in recovery mode when I made the pesto, we had to be contented with crackers. They were both eaten very quickly – the only downside to mahi kai!  But if you’re on the lookout for inter-cultural recipes (or a good reason to make more food) while we commemorate Māori overseas, here’s a starter for you.


Nāku te rourou is a monthly food blog focussing on Māori food and recipes. Don’t think Julie and Julia. Think kīhini chaos, kānga pirau, and kai for the soul. Nau mai ki tāku kīhini… Welcome to my kitchen.

Māori words used in this blog entry:
rauemi – resources
Te Matapihi ki te Ao Nui – Wellington City Libraries
kaitiaki pukapuka – librarian
sope taua – troops
ki tāwāhi – overseas
rohe o Hauraki – region of Hauraki (the Hauraki plains and Thames Valley)
kīhini – kitchen
tīhi – cheese
mahi kai – cooking

Rauemi: Te Reo kei runga Pukamata/Te Reo on Facebook

We here at Te Matapihi ki te Ao Nui obviously love our pukapuka, and when you’re learning Te Reo, maybe for the first time, there’s no shortage of very helpful, carefully laid-out books that will take you through your kupu hou (new words), rerenga kōrero (phrases) and whakahua (pronunciation). We have a tidy collection of Reo textbooks and courses that you can look through here and here in our catalogue to get you started.

But to get really proficient in Te Reo or any language, there’s nothing like trying out your skills in te ao hurihuri – the real world! And in today’s world – March 2014 – a lot of our real-world kōrerorero happens online on te ipurangi, the wonderful world wide web. Forums where kaikōrero can talk together or see others use their reo in a relaxed way are easy places to get used to using reo, and that includes social media like Twitter and Facebook.

On Pukamata (Facebook) there are a couple of whārangi whakahirahira that aim to both provide a venue for using reo socially, and help kaikōrero build up their skills. The first of these, Normalising Te Reo Maori on Social Media, is just over a week old, but already has over 3000 members and they are sooo active. Almost daily the administrator posts a new kīwaha (saying) or aspect of Te Reo Māori idiom or grammar at a set level of difficulty, and often puts out a wero (challenge) to her readers to use the phrase themselves over the coming days – often working Pukamata or other technology into the challenge, such as asking learners to tag a friend with a cheeky kīwaha.

Whakatauki is a more in-depth, less community-oriented page (where Normalising Te Reo is a group, Whakatauki is a private page) that posts clear, detailed explanations and translations of idiom, songs and word origins. The page links to Youtube videos, posts video explanations of idiom, and writes about the explanations too below his videos or in separate posts.

“Liking” either wharangi will cause the posts and updates to appear in your Facebook feed, and they’re both a great way to fit a little practice and a little extra reo use into your day. Kia whaia te iti kahurangi – pursue that which is precious… even if in small amounts and squeezed into your Facebook feed! And, as always, if you need help finding more resources, the kaitiaki at te wharepukapuka are happy to point you at more taonga and learning material. Kia maia!

Māori words used in this post:

Te Matapihi ki te Ao Nui – Wellington City Libraries
pukapuka – book(s)
Te Reo (Māori language)
kupu hou – new words
rerenga kōrero – sentences
whakahua – pronunciation
te ao hurihuri – the world of today
kōrerorero – conversation
te ipurangi – the internet
kaikōrero – speakers
Pukamata – Facebook
wharangi whakahirahira – great pages
kiwaha – saying
wero – challenge
wharangi – page
Kia whaia te iti kahurangi – pursue that which is precious
kaitiaki – staff
whare pukapuka – library
taonga – treasures
Kia mia – be brave

Nāku te Rourou: He Rewena Reka / Delicious Rēwena Bread

Judging by my last adventures in mahi kai, a casual reader might have doubted my ability to turn out a rēwena bread. And to be honest, so did I. But dear readers, the fantastical has happened: we have achieved rēwena.
I loved rēwena when I was a pīpī manu. But I’ve never tried to make it myself until my attempt, a fortnight ago, to develop my own fermented potato starter and use it bake my own rēwena bread. Well, my potato bug, which I showed you in my last blog entry –

The Bug –  is no more. It fizzled into non-being. I followed the recipe faithfully (I think) and fed my bug regularly, but mea rawa ake, both mixes were flat as pancakes, and out they had to go. This was discouraging. But I’d promised rēwena in my next blog, nō reira, me whakawhiti te awa rā – this was a river that must be crossed. Luckily, Suezanne, who works with me at the whare pukapuka, has a rēwena bug that’s been passed down her whānau – for as many as 70 years. Kā mau te wehi! I gratefully accept her kind offer of a portion of this kaumatua bug, and on Monday afternoon, I am walking quickly home through a snap thunderstorm, cradling my newly-acquired bug. It’s active and is bubbling up to the top of the peanut butter jar I’m carrying it in. I clutch the bug closely to me and rub the jar to try to keep it warm. I look very strange.

Thursday night is baking night. I’m pretty nervous, and wondering if the bread will show it (yes, I do think baking happens by magic). When I open the jar, the pressure built up from the healthy bug bubbling makes a loud pop! and I almost scream. But to business.

Rēwena recipes tend to the simple, but there’s a multiplicity of them. As in China, where proverbially there are as many ways to make dumplings as there are dumpling cooks, I suspect each rēwena baker in Aotearoa has their own method. For tonight, I’m making “Nanny Hine’s Rēwena Bread” from Charles Royal’s cookbook, the same one I got my failed bug recipe from. I mix my dry ingredients and my bug together and, as instructed, knead them into a stiff dough. I interpret “stiff” to mean a long kneading time, and knead on a heavy wooden board set across my knees while I watch Being Human with the flatmates (excellent series – see here in our catalogue). Halfway through the episode, the dough is smooth and springy and I decide it’s had enough handling. First, I take a small handful of dough and set it aside to germinate the next bug. Then I roll the remaining dough into four equal rounds, press them together, and position them inside a buttered ceramic dish with a lid.

Usually, you’d make rēwena inside a camp oven – a heavy metal dish with a tight-fitting lid – but I don’t have one, and Suezanne assures me rēwena will cook fine in a casserole dish. But first, it has to rise in a warm place, and double its size. This is Aro Valley on a cold night, and I don’t have a hot water cupboard, but the bug and I are undaunted. I tuck it up for the night in its dish, covered with a tea towel, sitting on top of a hot water bottle inside the microwave.

“Sit there, grow well,” I tell it. “tipua, tīpuna”. Before I go to bed, I catch a flatmate opening up the microwave. She peers inside and says “goodnight, bug!”.

On Friday morning I wake up early to check the bug, before the sun’s reached over the lip of the valley. When I open the microwave there’s a pleasant surprise waiting for me. The bug knew its business, even if I didn’t , and the bread has easily doubled in size, risen beautifully to the top of the dish. The new bug, which I put next to it, has also bubbled healthily half-way up its jar.

I’ve pre-heated the oven to 180 degrees, and I slide the bug in its dish inside. It should cook for 2 ½  – 3 hours. I check it after one hour, and it looks on-track – the top turning golden nicely. The sun rises. I hang out the washing.

After 1 ¾ hours, I check again. The top of the bread is totally golden and developing a firm crust. There’s no way it should be ready yet, but I check the bread anyway by sliding a knife through the crisp crust. It comes out clean. I squeak a bit with excitement, and pull the dish out of the oven. There’s a crust right round the bread, and when I slide it out onto a board, it looks cooked already. I am almost as shocked as I am delighted.
The bread breaks apart easily into quarters, along the lines of the dough rounds. It has a nice, light texture inside and is evenly cooked. Yes!!

I take a few photos, then get right down to business. That is, a breadknife, lots of pata, and kiwifruit jam. I skipped adding sugar, so this rēwena isn’t a sweet bread, but I can confirm it is delicious, especially eaten outside in the sun.

I pack it up and take it round to my flatmate at work, and the others at the whare pukapuka. I give half away to my whāea kēkē, meeting her for lunch in Newtown. Before long…

Rewena bread

Kua pau.

It’s gone. With my food basket and your food basket, the family’s been fed, and rēwena’s on the menu to stay.

Nāku te rourouis a fortnightly food blog focussing on Māori food and recipes. Don’t think Julie and Julia. Think kihini chaos, kānga pirau, and kai for the soul. Nau mai ki tāku kihini… Welcome to my kitchen.

Māori words used in this blog post:
mahi kai – cooking
rēwena – fermented potato yeast bread
pīpī manu – baby bird, child
mea rawa ake – next minute
“nō reira, me whakawhiti te awa rā” – “so it’s a river that must be crossed”.
whare pukapuka – library
ka mau te wehi – amazing!
kaumatua – grandfather
“tipua, tīpuna” – grow, grandfather!
pata – butter
whaea kēkē – auntie
“kua pau” – “it’s gone/ used up”

Rauemi: Ko wai tō ingoa? / What’s your name?

Tēnā koutou! Nau mai, welcome to the first Rauemi blog post. This blog series looks at different resources, highlighting new, useful or unusual sources of Māori information.

A lot of people ask us at the wharepukapuka for help researching their family tree or their whakapapa. We have many nifty resources at the library; some stowed away at our information desks, some on the public shelves, and some available through our website. Here are just three rauemi (resources) that might help you in looking up names for your whakapapa – whether for places, people or objects.

An amazing rauemi available online is the Fletcher index of Māori names. This can be found through our Māori website Rauemi page, under the “History” header. The Fletcher Index is “from an unpublished manuscript compiled about 1925 by the missionary Rev. Henry James Fletcher (1868-1933). In its original form it was 987 pages long, a vast index of Māori names referred to in books and journals, including the names of boundaries, Māori individuals, canoes, trees, landmarks and geographical locations. It was Fletcher’s greatest piece of work, and one that merited improved access.” (from website). It has searchable, browsable access to a wide range of pre- and post-Pākehā names of people, places, and more, and provides the details of where those names are found in other sources. This makes it an excellent resource for finding a name’s provenance, or discovering new contexts and information about a name or place previously unknown.

A second rauemi available on the internet is this page of Pakeha (European) / Māori Transliterations. A common raru (problem) in trying to research whakapapa is that, particularly in older records, people could be known, recorded, and written about by more than one version of their name. This is where the Transileration page comes in. This page lists an amazing variety of Māori names with their reo Ingarihi (English) transliterations, and also English names and their Māori transliterations, and is searchable both ways. It also includes a huge number of Māori transliterations of Biblical names, which were very popular in early colonial times. For example, the Pākehā missionary William Colenso was known as “Colenso”, “Koroneho”, “Koreneho”, “Te Koreneho” and “Te Koroneho” formally, and “Neho” colloquially. Searching for just one of these names might bring up only a fraction of the material available for this person under his other names, and without knowing the transliteration, you might never find that data. Now, due to the handy magic of transliteration lists, your searching might become a little broader, and a little easier.

And finally, one from our shelves. If you’re looking for more information on Māori names for places, look no further than A. W. Reed’s dictionary of the same, Illustrated Māori Place Names, for a comprehensive etymology of places around Aotearoa.

Syndetics book coverIllustrated Maori place names / A.W. Reed

What’s in a name? It really all depends on the name – and I hope these rauemi might help you discover more about the names that mean something to your whakapapa or research.