During the 1890s, as many Pākehā came to believe that Māori were a ‘dying race’, a group of men who had close association with Māori believed it was important that the history and oral recollections of Māori were captured before it was too late. They established the Polynesian Society in 1892 and began to write up Māori history and traditions, often in the society’s journal. Arguably these men were the country’s first oral historians. One of those involved in this enterprise was Elsdon Best. He was employed by the Dominion Museum, which published many of his writings. Best had worked in the Urewera, and he gave special attention to recording the history and memories of Ngāi Tūhoe who lived in that area. Here he is seen talking to Tūhoe elders at Ruatāhuna in 1919.
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