Alex: Matauranga Maori

July 28, 2011

I checked out books from the library for the first time today.

I’m largely caught up on my homework, and in addition to looking for something to fill my time I was looking to start my research in earnest. I explained my project to my Anthro tutor (which is what they call TAs) who is also an American, and the rest of my Anthro tutorial this morning. I get more and more excited every time I mention it, and since it is the reason I spent all this money to fly half way around the world, I felt like I should get to work. Also, I have yet to hear from a single tattoo artist, so the approach that I had intended to take to this project has yet to bear fruit and I needed to feel like I was doing something.

So I was at the library this afternoon, struggling to find the books I was looking for, when I saw one of the books was marked in the system as being in the Matauranga Maori section. I had no idea what matauranga meant (it means education, knowledge). So I wandered around the first floor of the library when I noticed it: half of the floor set back and labeled with a large sign beckoning from the drop ceiling “Marautanga Maori.”

I walked into this section, and understanding crept up on me slowly and warmly. It started in my toes and by the time I had found my section the feeling was near my eyeballs and I had to use all my considerable force of will to restrain an actually giggle of delight. There is an entire section of this library dedicated to Maori topics. Minnesota has one of the largest archives in the country, and Maori topics is a sub-division of a sub-division. Like a kid in a candy store, I wanted to pull everything from the shelves and gorge myself until I was sick. I resisted, but only just.

I ended up only taking two books on ta moko home with me. Voracious as I am, I know myself and I know that if I could only have them for a month, I may accidentally skip homework in favor of pouring myself into these books. Upon arriving at home I had to once again restrain myself from tearing open my backpack like a child on Christmas morning. I dutifully did my homework, and then sat down and devoured an entire book just this evening. My hunger was so great I totally forgot myself, I had no conception of the passing time. As it turns out, my hunger was actually so great because I had forgotten to eat anything.

This project is going to go oh so very well.

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