: This article examines the perception and treatment of the blind (kāpo) in traditional Māori society. It seeks to decipher the literature predominantly written by non-Māori missionaries, historians, artists, travelers and ethnographers who were often culturally biased when writing about Māori customs and lifestyles. The literature shows that while a blind person was often regarded very highly in pre-contact times, perceptions changed to the more recent belief that a person’s blindness brought shame to the whānau or was the result of some social or spiritual transgression. Such changes are explored in this paper.

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