Author(s): Elsdon Best
Originally published: Wellington, N.Z. : Dominion Museum, 1929. Includes bibliographical references and index. An account of the cosmogony, anthropogeny, religious beliefs and rites, magic and folk lore of the Maori folk of New Zealand First published 1924; this reprint with alterations 2005. Elsdon Best was a prolific recorder of pre-European Maori social life and material culture. His work established him as New Zealand's foremost ethnographer of Maori society. Best based is research on rare first-hand knowledge, wide reading, informed study and discussion with Maori. His was a lifelong project underpinned by a belief that Maori were a people under threat of extinction, yet by the time of his death in 1931 Best's work had assumed new importance as it informed a Maori cultural renaissance. Today, the Elsdon Best books are accepted as classic studies. They remain a uniquely valuable record of traditional Maori culture, social customs and beliefs.