A Hawke's Bay man was able to use historic Maori newspaper collections brought online this year in his research for the upcoming 150th commemoration of the Omarunui battle.

Ngti Paarau historian Mat Mullany used the newspaper collections, which have been digitised by the National Library's Papers Past team, for the Niupepa Maori Project.

The Papers Past team processed more than 18,000 pages from 25 historical newspapers and periodicals, adding them to the Papers Past website. The collection was based on images supplied by the New Zealand Digital Library Project at the Department of Computer Science, University of Waikato and includes the Hawke's Bay title Te Waka Maori which Mullany used for his research.

He said the service had been a great resource.


"It provides insight into my tipuna's thinking leading up to the battle," Mullany said.

"My tipuna (Tareha Te Moananui) had a vision of Maori and Pkeh working together for the common good. For various reasons, not all Maori had the same vision. To read Te Waka Maori helped me to understand Tareha's foresight to establish Napier."

Niupepa Maori has made valuable resources more available for researchers who are interested in whakapapa.

It offers a unique source of Maori language text as well as unique historical records of New Zealand from a Maori perspective. National Library online manager Sam Minchin said the glimpse into the past was significant and works towards preserving and growing the language.

"It's part of our commitment to get more material in te reo online and it's encouraging to see researchers like Mat using it to discover our history," Mr Minchin said.

He said the Papers Past team was excited that new audiences were discovering this resource and the team was looking forward to seeing how else the niupepa will be used and what other insights can be gained from them.

The Papers Past updated site has been re-launched and is now live. It brings together digitised newspapers, letters, diaries, magazines and parliamentary papers in a digital environment.

The latest additions on the site include the Hawke's Bay Times (1869-1874) and the Woodville Examiner (1883-1920). Visit: https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz