Story: Libraries

Page 6. Library services to Māori

All images & media in this story

Focus on Māori

Before 1960 Māori readers received little attention, despite Country Library Service efforts. In 1962 the Māori library services committee of the New Zealand Library Association worked with the Māori Education Foundation at the Department of Māori Affairs to encourage Māori to use public libraries and become librarians.

A pamphlet called The public library is for everyone in the community was published in 1965 and demand among Māori communities was huge. That year a bursary for Māori students to study at university and attend the New Zealand Library School was announced.

Treaty research

The establishment of the Waitangi Tribunal in 1975 and, from 1985, the hearing of retrospective claims back to 1840, led to a huge increase in the researching of historical records held by libraries. Professional researchers and iwi members flocked to libraries and many reports based on library holdings were produced.


In 1988 students of the Victoria University of Wellington’s Department of Librarianship said that the course did not take account of Māori perspectives. In 1997 the department’s masters programme offered a course in Māori information studies.

Catalogues and indexes

In 1995, Māori Language Year, Māori OPAC – New Zealand’s first Māori-language online public access catalogue – was launched at Kerikeri library. Another project was the indexing of the niupepa, Māori newspapers, held at the Alexander Turnbull Library.

Māori students, genealogists and researchers discussed the development of nationally recognised, standardised Māori catalogue subject headings. In 1997 a Māori thesaurus was published and used by indexers.

The Iwi Hapu Names List was developed and first appeared on the National Library website in 2004. Three years later Ngā Ūpoko Tukutuku, a new bilingual Māori subject heading thesaurus, was promoted in libraries. This was the first collection of indigenous subject headings recognised internationally by the US Library of Congress.

How to cite this page:

Julia Millen, 'Libraries - Library services to Māori', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 15 July 2024)

Story by Julia Millen, published 22 Oct 2014