Series 2 - Letters written to Donald McLean (in Māori)

This series comprises almost 3,000 letters written to McLean by Māori from throughout New Zealand. It is the largest surviving group of 19th-century letters in Māori.

The earlier letters are mainly from Māori in those areas in which McLean was most active as a sub-protector, magistrate and Government land purchase commissioner. There are many letters in these years relating to Taranaki land issues, and about land purchase negotiations with Ngati Kahungunu hapu in Hawke's Bay and Wairarapa.

Later letter writers cover topics including the fighting against Te Kooti on the East Coast. There are letters from Māori leaders from all over the country, particularly in the later years, when McLean was Minister in charge of Native Affairs.

The letters have research value for studying Māori attitudes to land and land sales, inter-hapū politics, the social history of Māori communities, the wider history of interaction between Māori and Pakeha, and for the study of how te reo Māori developed as a written language.

The original letters have been arranged in folders in chronological order, except for several folders of undated letters (folders 0702A-0702I) and a separate batch of letters and documents acquired from the estate at a later time (folders 1010-1019), which remain in the order they were received. The letters can be searched in various ways. Most have had date, name of writer, their iwi or hapu affiliation, and place of writing or residence identified, which allows searching by those particular terms.

E Mā: Nga Tuhituhinga ki a Makarini is a project to translate these letters. The project members are Dr Ngapare Hopa, Te Kohu Douglas and Dr Jane McRae, and their work has been funded by Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga The National Institute of Research Excellence for Māori Development and Advancement.

Most of the earlier letters have now been transcribed and translated as part of the E Mā project, while others have been translated by other scholars. As many of these translations and transcriptions as possible have been included with the digitised letters and are fully searchable. The Turnbull Library will continue working with the E Mā team as they transcribe and translate these letters.

There are 3,148 items in this series, of which 491 have been transcribed and 474 translated.

Te Hapuku, ca 1863-1866; Rapata Wahawaha, 1871.

Among McLean's many Māori correspondents were the Ngati Kahungunu chief, Te Hapuku (left) a supporter of McLean's early land purchases in Hawke's Bay, and Rapata Wahawaha of Ngati Porou, who took a leading part in the fighting against Te Kooti in the 1860s.

Te Hapuku, ca 1863-1866. PA2-1726
Photographic Archive
Alexander Turnbull Library

Rapata Wahawaha, 1871.
Photographer: Samuel Carnell. 1/4-022027-G
Photographic Archive
Alexander Turnbull Library