In Waiata our forebears spoke their hearts in grief and celebration. For many hundreds of years this great oral tradition of song flourished in Aotearoa. During the second half of the last century, in times of rapid change, Maori scholars recorded for the future the words of thousands of waiata. Their manuscripts were preserved by Pakeha of foresight and commitment, and along with a vast body of other Maori writing they are now accessible in libraries throughout the country. Margaret Orbell worked with these manuscripts for 25 years. During this time she came to occupy a special place in Maori scholarship, having brought to light and translated many ancient texts. In this anthology she places waiata of the nineteenth century in their social and political setting, conveying the poets' responses to their people's trauma.