Dr Ray Harlow was Professor of Linguistics at the University of Waikato and a foundation member of Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori, The Māori Language Commission. He has taught Māori grammar at undergraduate and master's levels and has had over forty years' study of the Māori language, focusing on the structure, relationship to other Polynesian languages, and language maintenance and development issues.
Learn a little more about Dr Harlow ...
If you could ask one author one question, what would you ask and to who?
Herodotus, ‘what moved you to explore in such breadth and depth the peoples and background of the Persian Wars?’
What’s the most unusual item in/on your desk?
A CD-container shaped like a hamburger.
Why did you write A Māori Reference Grammar?
While I was a member of Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori (1987-93), such a project was often discussed with Tīmoti Kāretu, who encouraged me to write it. The original idea had been to produce it in both English and Māori editions, a project which is in abeyance at the moment, but would be a useful companion to Te Pātaka Kupu, the monolingual Māori dictionary.
Do you have a book that you always go back to?
In the context of writing this grammar, I have found Hēmi Pōtatau’s He Hokinga Mahara (among others) a valuable source of examples and triggers for further research on the language.
In general, the Bible.
Which writers inspire you?
Again, in this context, Bruce Biggs, Winifred Bauer, Patu Hōhepa, Tāmati Reedy.
In general, Plato, Cicero, Dickens, Goethe.
What was the hardest thing about writing A Māori Reference Grammar?
Keeping in mind the target audience and ensuring that the level of explanation and use of technical terminology was appropriate to that audience, neither too simple nor unnecessarily obscure.
What book do you wish you could have written?
A book of the Māori prose literature which has survived from the 19th century. This is a very diverse literature, from cosmogonical texts to historical, mythological, narrative, official, legal,...... documents. I cannot avoid the impression that many people are unaware of the extent and nature of this corpus.