Anthropologist Dame Anne Salmond and the Auckland University Press have released a collection of 40 years of research called Knowledge is a Blessing on Your Mind.
The collection includes Hui: A Study of Māori Ceremonial Gatherings, Eruera: The Teachings of a Māori Elder, and more recently, writing about race and Te Tiriti. She also examined early encounters in works such as The Trial of the Cannibal Dog.
“The university press thought it might be interesting for people to be able to read articles and snippets that had never been published before over a long career, so I was very thrilled by that,” she says.
Salmond recalls when she first met Eruera and Āmīria Sterling about whom she wrote, and others, during her time in Māori studies, saying she has enjoyed learning about te ao Māori from then till now.
“I never understood why New Zealanders found [te ao Māori] a bit threatening. For me, it’s been a huge pleasure.”
Growing up in Gisborne in the 1940s and 1950s, it took a scholarship opportunity abroad in America when she was 17 to begin “enriching” herself in knowledge in te ao Māori when she first didn’t know much about Māori history.
‘I was just so very lucky’
Her journey would lead to much more writing about historical political moments in New Zealand. She would go on to be a professor of Māori studies at the University of Auckland in 2001.
Her mahi hasn’t been without challenge, especially in the 1970s and 1980, but growing up around te ao Māori in her earlier years, and being on the marae, she felt lucky to be brought up in it.
“When I first began Māori studies at the University of Auckland, I joined the Māori club at that point, had a lot of friends and at that time it was pre-political; we just had a wonderful time together.
“Then the 1970s rolled on and everything came. The land march, Bastion Point - all of these issues cropped up and I was already a junior lecturer in Māori studies by then. But I had Eruera and Āmīria Stirling as a cloak around my shoulders, I guess, I was just so very lucky.”
She says the making of the collection has been a wonderful trip down memory lane.
The book is available on the Auckland Univerisity Press Website.