Here I share the history and ancient lore of the Pacific peoples and recent archaeological research. Placing the latest scientific studies alongside the histories of the ancestors is an exciting experience. Here I attempt to answer some of the questions that others pursue.

When the elders asked me to bring the ancient lore of the Maori/Polynesian people into the world, I had no idea that might mean. It brought an astounding library of over 3,000 chants into play in a powerful way. Some lasted for hours and some for days. They encapsulated an ethos for a life lived in a good way, philosophies and principles based on a remarkable understanding of people and the world we live in.

Few understand that the Pacific World knew peace for over 2,500 years. The old histories that cover those years speak of the days without conflict, say to take the life of another is to destroy your own. Archaeological excavations find no weapons of war in the sites of those times. Warfare in the Pacific is a tragic development born of natural devastating events that tore apart their world soon after 1200 AD.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Polynesian World Calling

 ‘With compassion and courage we have the power to heal the pain of the nations and the planet. While we cannot change the past we can heal the past, and heal it now. That is the challenge and the path of hope.’
                                                                                      Barry Brailsford

Journeying into the sacred knowledge of Indigenous Nations

The Power of Place

My love of the land and the mystery of the past is my birthright. I was born in Cobden near the lagoon named Te Ake Ake o Poutini, the ancient anchorage of the great navigator Poutini. Nurtured by the wild coastlines and forested mountains of Westland, I enjoyed a childhood where the spirit soared.

Maori and the Author

In 1988, Te Pani Manawatu, of the Rangitane people of the old Nation of Waitaha, Chief of the Tuahuriri Runanga of Ngai Tahu, asked me to tell the story of Waitaha to bring their ancient lore to the world.

This was the first time the sacred knowledge held in their Higher School of Learning was to shared beyond its walls. It remains a mystery why they asked a Pakeha, a white person, a teacher within the academic world, to become the custodian of their greatest treasure.

When setting forth the task in 1988, Te Pani Manawatu said…

‘You have been chosen to write the record of our ancestors and tell the story of Waitaha because of your skill and the awhi you gave the people of Ngai Tahu during the Tribunal hearings. This is not the easiest of tasks because of the things that have been hidden away from the majority of the people.

‘People will ridicule all the things you say and do in the name of Waitaha… it is a dangerous journey, it is a hard journey; you must walk it as a student…. Write what you learn and hear in peace and love…Carry your cross well for it is a heavy one that you bear.’

This decision to reveal the knowledge kept secret for so long was made possible by a unique alignment of the stars, an event foretold some four centuries ago. The decision was bound in prophecy. Those stars freed them to share all they held sacred and to announce to the world that it was time for the peoples of peace to stand tall.

In all a team of five was created for the journey. There were two Maori, a man and a woman to liaise with the elders, an art director to design the book and an administrator to assist with the work. The Nga Tapuwae Trust was established to formalize the task.

Opening the Ancient Peace Trail

In 1988 I was called to lead a party of 12 over the mountains to open the old trail used for moving Pounamu, their sacred stone. Known as Te Huarahi o Rongo-marae-roa, or the Peace Trail, it had been closed for over 130 years because blood had been spilt on it in anger by gold miners. Lifting the tapu on that trail, which crossed the high passes of the Southern Alps, was achieved in a long nine-day journey. Completing that task opened the way for the old lore to be written.

The gifting of Song of Waitaha

In 1990 the team of five was called to a meeting in Whangarei to sit with the representatives of 142 tribes gathered from the old Nation of Waitaha to discuss the release of their knowledge. After five days the representatives stood one by one to say... 'Tautoko... we support you to the death'. This meant — ‘we give you everything we have, our lives, our dreams, our prayers, all bound in the most sacred of treasures, the wisdom gifted by the ancestors.’

Thus followed four years of journeys and writing to bring the old wisdom to the modern world in Song of Waitaha: the Histories of a Nation.

                                    'SONG OF THE SACRED PROMISE'

That astonishing pool of knowledge grew deeper as Hawaiian lore and that of the Hopi of Arizona, the Haida of the North West Pacific and the Chumash of California was also placed in my basket. This incredible store of priceless indigenous wisdom has been my guide and my joy.

Tuti Aranui speaks of Barry’s work

"I speak as a Maori elder. And while these words are my own, they echo the thoughts of my children and many others who have discovered in his work a great re-awakening… a journey into the strength, power and spiritual wisdom of our peoples.

Barry’s stories help us unravel our beginnings, rediscover our ancestral past and travel familiar, yet unmapped ‘pathways’. Skillfully weaving together science, ancient lore and spirituality, he creates narratives so rich in human interest we cannot put them down.

Thus does he honour the precious knowledge placed in his hands by our Maori Elders. It is for all peoples for it is of a timeless realm where spirit knows no bounds. Every book Barry has written has its own magic."


 ‘We walk each step in humility.

Humility steps beyond smallness,
is a above pettiness and greed,
seeks only to be true to self,
serves without asking for attention or reward,
never dominates or stands over others
to shut out the light.

The gentleness of humility is our cloak.’

Song of the Circle

Barry graduated MA (Hons) from Canterbury University, was a member of the NZ Archaeology Association Council and a Principal Lecturer at the Christchurch College of Education. In 1990 he was awarded an MBE for his contribution to education and Maori scholarship.


  1. Kia ora Barry - my brother of the long trails - thank you so much for starting this process of sharing the knowledge - kia kaha e koro! ko te puna o te aniwaniwa - ko te puna o te aroha! - from Corn.

    1. Kia ora Corn. Great to hear from you. Hope we can do the great North American circle again after hip replacement done. Arohanui

  2. Great to see you here Barry, In full support, Aroha,