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Developing Māori collections

Spencer Lilley (Massey University, Palmerston North Campus, New Zealand)

Collection and Curation

ISSN: 2514-9326

Article publication date: 7 January 2019

Issue publication date: 7 January 2019




This paper aims to provide an introduction to Māori, the indigenous people of New Zealand, briefly describing their origin, population structure, language and knowledge structures. There is also a description of the process by which Māori knowledge systems were transformed into a written structure from predominantly oral and visual forms. In the latter part of the paper, there is a discussion about how the growing demand by Māori clients changed the delivery of resources and services in New Zealand libraries and led to the development of Māori collections in libraries.


Using a case study approach this paper outlines the impact that literacy and publishing had on Māori traditional knowledge transfer methods. The implication of these developments and their importance to libraries is considered as part of the Treaty of Waitangi reconciliation process and the growing consciousness of the need to be fulfilling the information needs of Māori clients.


The development of Māori collection has been successful and plays a critical role in meeting the cultural, linguistic, research and recreational information needs of Māori clients.

Research limitations/implications

This case study provides a model for the development of indigenous collections in other countries.


This paper makes a contribution to an area that has not had a significant amount of literature published on it.



Lilley, S. (2019), "Developing Māori collections", Collection and Curation, Vol. 38 No. 1, pp. 15-18.



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