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Māori naming in transition : how Māori have named from earliest times, through colonisation and missionisation, to the present day : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Religious Studies at Massey University
Both the type of personal names carried by Māori, and the ceremonies attached to their bestowal, have undergone some momentous changes since contact. This study attempts to trace the customary concepts that surrounded naming when Māori alone inhabited these islands. It does so by examining the oral traditions from earliest times: through the mythologies, the whakapapa, the moteatea and other now-recorded literary forms. Establishing the nature of names and naming in 'the beginning' makes for more accurate observation of the changes that have since occurred. That colonisation by another culture, accompanied by the evangelising activities of Christian missionaries had the consequence of virtually overturning the centuries-old naming practices of the Māori people, is the theory that has fuelled this study. Establishing what was this other culture's background in naming its members, and what was the religious perception of naming held by those Christian missionaries, adds to an understanding of why Māori naming has been so affected by missionising activities. The processes themselves which brought about changes in Māori naming are examined. Lastly, turning to how Māori themselves have continued to name innovatively despite these changes to what were traditional practices, observations of what appears to have been retained are made. What might have been lost is suggested, and what is now being retrieved is applauded.