Covid ‘race’ brings cultural treasures

Wednesday 14 April 2021 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Culture, National

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Covid ‘race’ brings cultural treasures
Dr Jon Tikivanotau Jonassen at the book launch on Monday that was attended by Prime Minister Mark Brown, Queen’s Representative Sir Tom Marsters and Lady Tuaine Marsters. 21041301.

The latest volumes of Peu Maori books bring to light some of the legends of Cook Islands history and culture.

Dr Jon Tikivanotau Jonassen fittingly chanted a pe’e at the intimate launching of his fourth volume of Peu Maori (Maori culture) books on Monday night at The Islander Hotel.

His journey into peu Maori began when he was part of the tumu korero exchange with the Kaumatua in New Zealand some years ago, and engaging with tumu korero such as Ina Teiotu, Ngapare and Mapu Taia.

“I was like a sponge at the time, I’m glad I collected all that material and wrote while I still remember it,” Dr Jonassen said.

He said he cannot write alone, “the information that I’m trying to get out is not mine, the information that I have is a collection of many people that I’ve met over the years”.

Twelve of his books have been released since November 2020, an amazing feat, emboldened by Covid-19.

“I’m having a race with Covid-19, in case you’re wondering what’s driving me”, he said, “and I want to get all that out before…”

Prime Minister Mark Brown has a collection of the books that he reads through, looking for chants to suit particular occasions.

“It really is a source of inspiration for people like myself to go back and have a look through, to use this information to project our message in a much stronger way than we normally do… and I’m sure these will be much appreciated by our wider population,” Brown said.

“It is vitally important that our tumu korero do record and write down their knowledge and original compositions as a treasure for future generations to learn and remember.”

The Prime Minister acknowledged Dr Jonassen’s impressive amount of work in the past two years in documenting his personal database of peu Maori. 

“I support and encourage you in making sure that what you do have is recorded for future generations. These are things that will be used and treasured by other people as well,” Brown said.

The books are distributed by Mana Heritage Publishing. Speaking on behalf of the publishing company Dr Jonassen’s son Tamatoa said he is happy to have been part of the journey.

“The real effort has been the amazing, talented, knowledgeable, living legend Dr Jon Jonassen. With the great support from Raro Printing and amazing support from the Ministry of Culture, a big thank you for making this dream a reality,” Tamatoa Jonassen said.

Launched at the Islander Hotel, the books are: Vaiata Songs Volume 3, which includes songs such as Kinaki Taro and other favourites; while Cook Islands Legends Vol 2 seeks to bring to light some of the legends of our rich history and culture.

Pe’e Tupuna Volume 3 continues with chants related to titles and expands to chants relating to declaring and removing tapu and gives examples of supporting or objecting investitures.

Drum Beats is the first of a three-volume series on drums that includes the orchestration of drum beats, stage set up, and more.

More information on the books is available on Mana Heritage Publishing’s Facebook.