Selected works by Pei te Hurinui Jones
Background information on Pei te Hurinui Jones

Pei te Hurinui Jones (1898–1976): Ngāti Maniapoto leader, adviser, interpreter, land officer, scholar, writer, translator, genealogist, husband, father, grandfather1

N.B. Permission to reproduce the following short bibliography has been gratefully granted from the Authors (Whaanga & Hedley, 2006) and the publishers of He Puna Kōrero: Journal of Maori and Pacific Development

Dr. Pei te Hurinui Jones JP, DHons, OBE was a prominent figure in the revival and retention of the Māori language and of Māori cultural knowledge and heritage in the 20th century. Born at Harataunga (Kennedy’s Bay) on the eastern coast of the Coromandel Peninsula on the 9th of September 1898, Pei te Hurinui was the son of Daniel Lewis, a European storekeeper, and Pare Te Kōrae (born ca.1878), daughter of Poutama II and Paretuaroa of Ngāti Maniapoto. Daniel Lewis, with his brothers Samuel and Hyman, operated a store at the site of the Poro-o-tarao tunnel in the King Country during the construction of the main trunk railway line. It was here that Pare Te Kōrae’s eldest son, Michael Rotohiko was born in 1895. Pare Te Kōrae also bore two daughters, Julia and Lena, and a second son Pehi (Pei) to Daniel Lewis. The marriage was a brief one for Daniel left Aotearoa with his brothers to enlist for service in the Boer War and he later settled in Australia and never returned (Hurst, 1996, pp. 6-7). Pare Te Kōrae later married David Jones, a farmer, of Ngāpuhi descent, and they bore five children. Pare Te Kōrae’s elder children to Daniel Lewis, including Pei, took their stepfather’s surname.

During his early years, Pei lived at Te Kawa Kawa (now called Ongarue), a small township on the banks of the Ongarue River; approximately 16 miles north of Taumarunui. Pei was adopted in his infancy by his mother’s grand-uncle, Te Hurinui Te Wano, and the years spent with this koroua (grand uncle) had a profound effect on him. It was during this time that he was initiated into the lore and traditions of his people. Biggs (2005) notes the following of Pei’s childhood: “A sickly child, troubled by dreams that came to be considered portents of death in the tribe, Pei underwent ancient rituals. Besides putting an end to the troublesome dreams, these confirmed a commitment to his traditional Maori heritage”. He added that Pei “was present at many tribal gatherings, conferences of elders and functions in many parts of the country” (¶1). Pei would later recall the influence of his koroua (Jones, 1982, pp. 10-11):

My granduncle often would recall me from my youthful games and set me to work on his manuscript books. These books contained genealogical tables, tribal traditions, ancient songs, and ritual. The task I was first set to do was to copy pages of manuscript into new books. He flattered and encouraged me in this work by words of admiration for my handwriting.

At times I found the task irksome, and it was hard to put up with the shouting and laughter of my companions in their play. The temptation was strong to rush off and leave my granduncle’s books behind. In time, however, I became very interested in the subject matter of my writing.

When I started to question my granduncle about some of the rather obscure passages in the stories or the songs, a look of deep contentment came over his smiling face before he would answer me. From those early years I became absorbed in the study of ancient ritual, tribal traditions, and the esoteric lore of our people that it became a passion with me.

It was in this way, at a comparatively early age, that my grandfather implanted in me and I acquired an abiding love for the ancient lore of our Maori people.

Although Pei attended Ongarue Primary School from the age of seven, his formal schooling was irregular. Following the death of Te Hurinui Te Wano in 1911, Pei (with his older brother Michael) enrolled at Wesley Training College in Auckland (now Wesley College) in 1913. After leaving Wesley, Pei would have no further formal education (Biggs, 2005; Hurst, 1996, p. 8).

Pei occupied many pivotal roles during his extremely busy life. He initially worked as an interpreter at the Native Department in Wanganui in the early 1920s. From 1928, he was in charge of the consolidation of Māori lands in the King Country, a position he held until 1940 (Biggs, 2005; Hurst, 1996). Pei made a considerable impression on Sir Apirana Ngata during a meeting at Te Kuiti to discuss a rating dispute that had arisen between Ngāti Maniapoto and a local body. Ngata noted with approval that some younger members of Ngāti Maniapoto were prepared to “break down the conservatism of the elders” (Ngata, Buck, & Sorrenson, 1986, p. 86). In a letter, later written to his close friend Te Rangihiroa (Sir Peter Buck) on the 6th of May 1928, he wrote of his impression of Pei (Ngata, Buck, & Sorrenson, 1986, p. 87):

The torch-bearer will I think be Pei Jones – a good man, with plenty of vision, a first-rate Maori scholar, steeped in West Coast folk lore & c. [culture] and a very competent master of English. His translation of the Merchant of Venice would do credit to the best of us. And he has the fire that kindles hearts.

When Pei’s older brother, Michael Rotohiko Jones, was appointed private secretary to the native minister in 1940, Pei took over his business as a licensed interpreter and consultant in Hawera. In 1945, he moved to Taumarunui and was involved in setting up the Puketapu Incorporation to log and mill timber on a block of 17,620 acres between Taumarunui and Tokaanu. He became the managing secretary. By 1960, the business had made profits of £736,000 and returned more than £480,000 to its Māori shareholders. During that time, it had also developed a 1,600-acre sheep farm. The sawmills, timber factories and logging rights were sold to the Kauri Timber Company for £1,135,000 in 1960 (Biggs, 2005).

Pei ran unsuccessfully for parliament seven times. He first stood as an independent candidate in 1930. However, “[initial] assurances of the support of the Ratana movement were not fulfilled when Haami Tokouru Ratana also stood. His intervention split the vote and led to Te Taite Te Tomo winning the seat”. Pei also “stood unsuccessfully in 1938 and 1943, and was defeated by Matiu Ratana in a by-election in 1945. He stood as a New Zealand National Party candidate in 1957, 1960 and 1963” (Biggs, 2005, ¶5).

Despite his slight scholarly appearance in later years, Pei was a prominent sportsman in his youth, representing Wanganui, King Country, Auckland and Waikato at tennis and Wanganui and King Country at rugby. He was the reigning New Zealand Māori Tennis Champion from 1924 to 1928 (Hurst, 1996, p. 8).

Pei te Hurinui was widely accepted as a Māori leader. He was the first chairman of the Tainui Māori Trust Board, the President of the New Zealand Māori Council in 1970, the Chairman of the Māori Dictionary Revision Committee for the 7th Edition of William’s Māori Dictionary, a member of the New Zealand Geographic Board, a member of the Maniapoto District Māori Council and a member of the Taumarunui Borough Council. He also played leading roles at young Māori leaders’ conferences in 1939 and 1959. He was awarded an OBE in 1961. In 1968, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Literature from the University of Waikato in recognition of his outstanding contribution to New Zealand literature (Biggs, 2005; Hurst, 1996).

Pei’s primary interest and passion was in the recording of Tainui genealogies and tradition, an interest that began in his youth. His main involvement would be with the King movement, a role which would occupy the majority of his life. As early as 1922, Pei had observed the efforts of his cousin, Te Puea Hērangi, to improve the Kingtanga’s fortunes. By the 1930s, both Pei and his older brother, Michael Rotohiko, had become two of Te Puea’s most influential advisors and spokesmen. Pei would organise functions, prepare publications and press releases and act as spokesman for the King movement. He later became an adviser to King Korokī, and to King Korokī’s daughter and successor, Te Arikinui Te Ātairangikaahu. Hurst (1996, p. 8) describes Pei as ‘the quiet man’ “who stood at the side of Te Puea and King Koriki, and later beside Queen Te Ata-i-rangi-kaahu at all functions on the Turangawaewae marae”, noting that he became a renowned orator “welcoming Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh on behalf of the Maori race during their visits in 1953 and 1970; and writing and delivering funeral orations for many prominent Maori figures”.

Biggs (2005) observes that despite Pei’s modest education he became a prolific writer in Māori and English. Biggs, a highly respected Māori scholar, regarded the Ngā Mōteatea series (Ngata, 1961, 1980; Ngata, Jones, & Polynesian Society, 1945), a definitive collection of traditional Māori song with translations and commentaries, as Pei’s most valuable contribution to Māori literature. After Ngata’s death in 1950, Pei carried on the editing and translating of the song collection: “Ngata had translated just 20 of the 300 songs into English. Pei completed the task of translating and re-editing new editions of all three volumes. In general, his translations are less literal than those of Ngata” (Biggs, 2005, ¶9).

King Potatau (Jones & Polynesian Society, 1959), an account of the life of the first Māori King (King Pōtatau Te Wherowhero), is viewed by Biggs as Pei’s most ambitious work in English. He noted that this work “should perhaps be regarded as a historical novel rather than a biography”, adding that “similar blending of factual research and what must be regarded as fancy is evident in his other English biographical pieces on Mahinarangi [(Jones, 1945b)] and on the poetess Puhiwahine [(Jones, 1961b)]” (Biggs, 2005, ¶10).

Wanting to share Shakespeare’s unique and poetic language with Māori, Pei te Hurinui translated a number of his works into Māori, including Huria Hiha (Julius Caesar) (Shakespeare & Jones, 1942), Owhiro (Othello) (Shakespeare & Jones, 1944), and Tangata Whai Rawa o Weniti (The Merchant of Venice) (Shakespeare & Jones, 1945). Tangata Whai Rawa o Weniti was later adapted for theatre and then screenplay by the prominent Māori actor, producer and director in stage, television and film, Don Selwyn (2001). This work was the first full-length feature film ever made in the Māori language and the first Shakespeare film produced in New Zealand.

Ngā Iwi o Tainui (Jones, Biggs, & Tainui Maori Trust Board, 1995), a Māori-language version of the history of the Tainui tribes, published posthumously in 1995, and He Tuhi Marei-kura (Jones, 1945a, 1946), an unpublished manuscript on the Māori account of the creation based on priestly lore of the Tainui people, were the outcome of many years of research on Tainui tradition, genealogies and customs. Biggs (2005, ¶12) notes that Pei had written an English language version of much of the material for Nga Iwi o Tainui by about 1936 and that Pei had “lent the manuscript to Leslie Kelly, who had offered to make a typewritten copy, and was very distressed when Kelly incorporated it in his book, Tainui, published in 1949 [(Kelly, 1949)]”.

Pei also translated into Māori Edward Fitzgerald’s translation of Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam (Ngā Rūpai’ana a Ōmā Kai’ama) (Fitzgerald & Jones, 1942), a collection of poems (of which there are about a thousand) attributed to the Persian mathematician and astronomer Omar Khayyám (1048-1123).

Pei contributed numerous articles and reviews on a range of topics to Te Ao Hou (Jones, 1955, 1956a, 1956b, 1960a, 1960b, 1960c, 1960d, 1960e, 1961a, 1961c; Jones & Polynesian Society, 1959), a bilingual quarterly published by the Māori Affairs Department from 1952-1976, the Journal of the Polynesian Society (Ngata, Jones, & Polynesian Society (N.Z.), 1958), various symposia (Jones, 1968), societies (Jones, 1964, 1971) and other publications (Jones, 1982), in addition to writing many booklets to commemorate the opening of meeting houses in the Tainui and Ngāti Tūwharetoa areas.

Pei te Hurinui Jones married twice. His first wife was a widow, Hepina Te Miha (formerly Teri) from Ngāti Tūwharetoa, whom he married on 16 October 1943 at Hawera. They had no offspring of their own but legally adopted two genetically related sons, Robert Te Au and Brian Hauāuru Jones, and brought up four others from their extended family. Hepina died in 1956, and on 6 January 1958 Pei married a divorcee, Kate Huia Apatari (formerly Rangiheuea) at Palmerston North. She had children from a previous marriage. Pei died at Taumarunui on 7 May 1976, survived by his wife. He is buried beside Te Hurinui Te Wano in the cemetery at Te Tokanga-nui-a-noho marae in Te Kuiti (Biggs, 2005).

1. The primary sources for this brief bibliographical section on Pei te Hurinui Jones were Baksh, 1991; Baksh & Hedley, 2003; Biggs, 2005; Hurst, 1996; Jones, 1982; Jones, Biggs, & Tainui Maori Trust Board, 2004.

Baksh, S. (1991). Index of Pei te Hurinui Jones papers 1849 - 1975. Hamilton: University of Waikato Library Archives.
Baksh, S., & Hedley, R. (2003). Index of Pei te Hurinui Jones papers 1849 - 1975. Hamilton: University of Waikato Library Archives.
Biggs, B. (2005). ‘Jones, Pei Te Hurinui 1898 – 1976’. Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Retrieved 12 January, 2006, from
Fitzgerald, E., & Jones, P. T. H. (1942). Ngā Rūpai'ana a Ōmā Kai'ama (P. T. H. Jones, Trans.). Unpublished manuscript.
Hurst, M. R. (1996). Dr Pei Te Hurinui Jones - An outstanding New Zealander. In Footprints of History (Vol. 17, pp. 6-11). Te Awamutu: Te Awamutu, Otorohanga and Te Kuiti Historical Societies and the Waitomo Caves Museum Society.
Jones, P. T. H. (1945a). He tuhi marei-kura: Ngā kōrero a te Māori mō te hanganga mai o te Ao nō ngā whare wānanga o Tainui. Unpublished manuscript.
Jones, P. T. H. (1945b). Mahinarangi (the moon-glow of the heavens): A Tainui saga. Hawera N.Z.: Printed by J.C. Ekdahl.
Jones, P. T. H. (1946). He tuhi marei-kura (A treasury of sacred writing): A Maori account of the creation based on priestly lore of the Tainui people. Unpublished manuscript.
Jones, P. T. H. (1955). Omar Khayyam translated. Te Ao Hou, 55, 22-25.
Jones, P. T. H. (1956a). A valedictory message: Te Rangiatahua Royal. Te Ao Hou, 14, 12-14.
Jones, P. T. H. (1956b). Judea meeting house in retrospect. Te Ao Hou, 16, 23-26.
Jones, P. T. H. (1960a). Huria Hiha. Te Ao Hou, 33, 40.
Jones, P. T. H. (1960b). Puhiwahine - Maori poetess: Fifth instalment: Gotty, man of mystery. Te Ao Hou, 32, 12-14.
Jones, P. T. H. (1960c). Puhiwahine - Maori poetess: Fourth instalment: Grandmother to be. Te Ao Hou, 31, 17-20, 64.
Jones, P. T. H. (1960d). Puhiwahine - Maori poetess: Sixth instalment: The last days of Puhiwahine. Te Ao Hou, 33, 18-19.
Jones, P. T. H. (1960e). Puhiwahine - Maori poetess: Third instalment. Te Ao Hou, 30, 10-13.
Jones, P. T. H. (1961a). Puhiwahine - Maori poetess: Epilogue. Te Ao Hou, 34, 12-13, 15-16.
Jones, P. T. H. (1961b). Puhiwāhine: Māori poetess. Christchurch, N.Z.: Pegasus Press.
Jones, P. T. H. (1961c). The whakapapa of Puhiwahine. Te Ao Hou, 34, 14-18.
Jones, P. T. H. (1964). Whakapapa of Ahumai Te Paerata. Historical Review: Whakatane and District Historical Society, 12(2), 79.
Jones, P. T. H. (1968). Maori Kings. In E. Schwimmer (Ed.), The Maori people in the nineteen-sixties: A symposium (pp. 132–173). Auckland: Blackwood & Janet Paul.
Jones, P. T. H. (1971). Hawaiki, the original home of the Maori. Proceedings of the Royal Society of New Zealand, 89, 99-113.
Jones, P. T. H. (1982). Te Hurinui. In W. T. Ihimaera & D. S. Long (Eds.), Into the world of light: An anthology of Maori writing (pp. 8-12). Auckland, N.Z.: Heinemann.
Jones, P. T. H., & Polynesian Society. (1959). King Pōtatau: An account of the life of Potatau Te Wherowhero, the first Maori King. Wellington, N.Z.: Polynesian Society.
Jones, P. T. H., Biggs, B., & Tainui Maori Trust Board. (1995). Nga iwi o Tainui: The traditional history of the Tainui people: Nga koorero tuku iho a nga tupuna. Auckland, N.Z.: Auckland University Press.
Kelly, L. G. (1949). Tainui: The story of Hoturoa and his descendants. Wellington, N.Z.: Polynesian Society.
Ngata, A. (1961). Ngā mōteatea: Part 2 (P. T. Hurinui, Trans.). Wellington: A. H. & A. W. Reed.
Ngata, A. (1980). Ngā mōteatea: Part 3 (P. T. Hurinui, Trans.). Wellington: The Polynesian Society.
Ngata, A., Buck, P. H., & Sorrenson, M. P. K. (1986). Na to hoa aroha: From your dear friend: The correspondence between Sir Apirana Ngata and Sir Peter Buck, 1925-50 (Vol. One). Auckland: Auckland University Press in association with the Alexander Turnbull Library Endowment Trust and the Maori Purposes Fund Board.
Ngata, A., Jones, P. T. H., & Polynesian Society. (1945). Ngā mōteatea: Part 1. Wellington, N.Z.: Polynesian Society.
Ngata, A., Jones, P. T. H., & Polynesian Society. (1958). Ngā mōteatea. Wellington, N.Z.: Polynesian Society.
Selwyn, D. (Writer) (2001). Te tangata whai rawa o Wēniti [Motion Picture]. Aotearoa: He Taonga Films.
Shakespeare, W., & Jones, P. T. H. (1942). Huria Hiha (P. T. H. Jones, Trans.). Unpublished Manuscript.
Shakespeare, W., & Jones, P. T. H. (1944). Owhiro (P. T. H. Jones, Trans.). Unpublished Manuscript
Shakespeare, W., & Jones, P. T. H. (1945). Tangata whai rawa o Weniti (P. T. H. Jones, Trans.): Unpublished manuscript.
Whaanga, H., & Hedley, R. (2006). The display and conservation of taonga Māori – establishing culturally appropriate display and conservation facilities: Mahi Māreikura – a work in progress. Journal of Maori and Pacific Development, 7(2), 3-39.