This book is a discussion of Māori songs, the dance form which, from modest beginnings in the early decades of the twentieth century, has developed into what is effectively the national dance of New Zealand.
Through many hundreds of compositions, the action song has become an important medium of communication for many Māori people. A number of the earliest action songs are remembered and performed as classics up to 60 years later. They include simple love ditties and notably the songs of proud farewell and the joyous sad welcomes to soldiers returning from both World Wars.
Recent developments have taken the action song away from the simplicity of its earliest form with borrowed European melodies, to more sophisticated compositions including dramatic effects with interpolated haka rhythms. New gestures are devised to express a widening range of themes and ideas, and these are worked into the style which has become conventionalised.
It is this process—the instinctive moulding of innovated movement into the aesthetically acceptable dance style—which makes absorbing study.