Scoop Review of Books

Archive for October, 2017

Rā Maumahara: Moetū

This is the second of several posts at Scoop Review of Books to help mark Aotearoa New Zealand’s first official Rā Maumahara (28 October) to remember the New Zealand Land Wars. The first was a Q&A with Tom Roa (Ngāti Apakura) about Vincent O’Malley’s book The Great War for New Zealand: Waikato 1800 – 2000; which Vaughan Rapatahan reviews here.


He Arotakenga
Sleeps Standing Moetu nā Witi Ihimaera ki Hemi Kelly (Vintage, 2017, $35)
He arotakenga nā Vaughan Rapatahana

moetu_cover_webKia ora ki ngā kaituhi o tēnei pukapuka nui. Kia ora ki ngā uri o Rongowhakaata rāua ko Maniapoto mō tēnei pukapuka e tika ana.

Ōrākau. E kāore e wareware tēnei pakanga i te rohe o Waikato i te tau o 1864. E riti tēnei pukapuka kia ako i te pono.

E whakanui tēnei pakanga aku tonu atu. Ko te wa tēnei.

Ka huri ahau ki te reo Ingarihi ināianei mō ngā tāngata e kāore mōhio te reo tuatahi o tēnei whenua.

Thank you for this book, Witi Ihimaera and Hēmi Kelly. The people of this nation should know and learn about one of the most important battles in this nation’s history. It took place here in this land, not in some faraway overseas clime. It intricately involved your ancestors, our ancestors. Indeed, the Waikato campaign involved Māori on both sides, for there were kūpapa siding with the British — although as Ron Crosby points not at Ōrākau. And very probably Pākehā siding with Māori, for as Trevor Bentley has noted with regard to Ōrākau, ‘Dr Hooper…was reliably reported to have ‘taken to the blanket’ and was living with Māori at Ōrākau’.

Ōrākau was one of the defining battles of the entire Waikato campaign. A campaign as instigated essentially by the then Governor George Grey to push back the tribes of Waikato — most especially those who were seen to support Kīngitanga or the Māori King movement — because the ‘Kingites’ were perceived to be a threat to Pākehā dominion.

However, the real and not so hidden rationale for this planned thrust deep into the Waikato was for Pākehā to nab the prime lands of the Waikato Māori. I will not write more here except to direct interested readers to the harbinger works of James Belich and more contemporarily to Vincent O’Malley’s excellent Great War for New Zealand Waikato 1800-2000. (Editor’s note: a review by Vaughan Rapatahana is forthcoming here). British-led usurpation of indigenous people in Aotearoa New Zealand was symptomatic of a far wider and all-too-often violent colonisation process, as so well evidenced in books such as The Blood Never Dried by John Newsinger. This particular battle followed the same tropes – white man domination, denigration, decimation of the brown man.

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Rā Maumahara: Q&A Tom Roa

Rā Maumahara: Q&A Tom Roa

This is the first of several posts at Scoop Review of Books to help mark Aotearoa New Zealand’s first official Rā Maumahara (28 October) to remember the New Zealand Land Wars. In the second, Vaughan Rapatahana reviews Sleeps Standing/Moetū, by Witi Ihimaera with Hēmi Kelly, a novel about the battle at Ōrākau, and, finally, he also reviews Vincent O’Malley’s Great War for New Zealand.


In May of this year, a talk and panel discussion with author Vincent O’Malley about his book The Great War for New Zealand: Waikato 1800 – 2000 was held in Te Awamutu, the Waikato town that sits amid several battle sites of the New Zealand Wars. One of the panelists, Tom Roa (Ngāti Apakura) spoke with Alison McCulloch in te Reo Māori and English after the event about O’Malley’s book:

Q. He aha ngā kōrero i puta mai ai ngā iwi o Waikato, (o Ngāti Maniapoto) mō te pukapuka nei?

A. Mīharo. Kei te nui te mihi ki a Vincent te take nā te arotau o ana rangahau i puta mai ai te pono, te tika o ngā kōrero a ngā tūpuna, ngā kōrero i tuku iho ki a mātou, engari kāore i te kōrerotia, kāore i te wānangatia e te ao Pākehā. Nā reira kei te nui te mihi ki tēnei Pākehā e whai nei i te pono i te tika o ngā kōrero i tuku iho.

From left, historian and author Vincent O’Malley; Tom Roa (Ngāti Apakura); local historian Alan Hall and Waipa District Councillor Susan O’Regan, taking part in a panel discussion in Te Awamutu in May this year about O’Malley’s book, The Great War for New Zealand: Waikato 1800 – 2000. (Photo: Alison McCulloch)

From left, historian and author Vincent O’Malley; Tom Roa (Ngāti Apakura); local historian Alan Hall and Waipa District Councillor Susan O’Regan, taking part in a panel discussion in Te Awamutu in May this year about O’Malley’s book, The Great War for New Zealand: Waikato 1800 – 2000. (Photo: Alison McCulloch)

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Release: New Landfall Editor

New editor appointed for Landfall journal
Emma Neale. Photo by Abe Baillie

Emma Neale. Photo by Abe Baillie

Emma Neale has been appointed as the new editor of Landfall, published by Otago University Press.

Neale, who lives in Dunedin, has published six novels and five poetry collections, and edited several anthologies.

She is a former Robert Burns fellow (2012) and has received numerous awards and grants for her writing including the Janet Frame/NZSA Memorial Prize for Literature (2008), the University of Otago/Sir James Wallace Pah Residency (2014), and she was Philip and Diane Beatson/NZSA Writing Fellow in 2015.

Neale was awarded the Kathleen Grattan Award for 2011 for her poetry collection The Truth Garden, and was a finalist for the Acorn Foundation Fiction Prize at the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards 2017 for her novel Billy Bird. She has extensive experience as a literary editor and reviewer, and holds a PhD in New Zealand Literature from University College London (UK). In making the announcement, Otago University Press publisher Rachel Scott says the role of Landfall editor is one that is at the heart of New Zealand arts and literature. “Otago University Press is pleased to entrust this position to a writer and editor of such distinction and talent.”

Landfall is New Zealand’s foremost and longest-running arts and literary journal. Published biannually, it showcases new fiction and poetry, as well as biographical and critical essays, cultural commentary and visual arts. Landfall was founded in 1947 by the Dunedin writer, critic and arts patron Charles Brasch.

Retiring editor David Eggleton was editor between 2009 and 2017 (from issues 218 to 234), one of the longest tenures of any Landfall editor. An award-winning poet and critic, Eggleton was recently awarded a Fulbright-Creative New Zealand Pacific Writers’ Residency.

Glorious High Country

Book Review
John and Charles Enys: Castle Hill Runholders, 1864-1891, by Jenny Abrahamson, featuring watercolours by Charles Enys and contemporary photographs by John O’Malley (Wily Publications, Christchurch. 239 Pages. $50)
Reviewed by Simon Nathan

enys-cover_webThe area was first farmed as a high-country sheep run between 1864-1891 by Charles and John Enys, younger sons of a prominent and prosperous Cornish family. These two young adventurers made the long voyage to the other side of the world, hoping to make their fortune in the distant colony of New Zealand. Jenny Abrahamson tells the story of the brothers, based on surviving diaries and letters, supplemented by her wide-ranging research. Although the brothers were backed by family money, they were always working farmers, struggling to make a living in difficult country, and dependent on overseas wool prices. Castle Hill station is thought to be both the highest and coldest farm homestead in the South Island. As neither brother married and they lived in relatively humble accommodation with few possessions, their personal expenses were relatively modest, which undoubtedly helped them survive the long depression in the 1880s.

Sheep farming is characterised by periods of intense activity, such as lambing, mustering and shearing, interspersed by quiet periods while the sheep graze and wool grows. The brothers both had time to develop other interests. John became involved in local body affairs as well as scientific collecting of plants, butterflies and fossils. Charles was a talented watercolourist, sending back paintings of the Castle Hill landscape and other places he visited to his family. Once the farm started to make money, the brothers alternated in taking trips back to Cornwall and further afield every few years.

The story of how the Enys brothers made a living at Castle Hill has considerable local interest as a case-study of 19th century sheep farming. The feature that makes the book appeal to a wider audience is the wonderful selection of illustrations which is a powerful reminder of the natural beauty of the area.

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Old Racism, New Racism

Book Review | BWB Texts
Old Asian, New Asian, by K. Emma Ng (BWB Texts, paper $14.99; e-book $4.99)
Reviewed by Judith Morrell Nathan

oldasian-001This book, written by a young second-generation Chinese New Zealander, gives many examples of the racism that Asian New Zealanders experience. Ng defines racism as both prejudice (attitudes) and discrimination (acts). She points out she uses the terms “Asian” and “Chinese” more or less interchangeably but in fact most of her material is about Chinese. The statement on the cover conveys her hope that: “Perhaps at some point we will no longer be asked to justify our presence or prove our worth.”

Ng gives a brief historical overview, noting that the Chinese were invited here as long ago as the 1860s to the Otago Goldfields. Once they were here, anti-Chinese sentiment quickly developed and spread. She points out that Paul Spoonley and Richard Bedford commented on the similarities with regard to Pasifika — invited to fill labour shortages but subsequently discriminated against. For Chinese, there were some 55 acts and amendments that singled them out, for example levying a poll tax on entry (for many years 100 pounds) and preventing them from becoming citizens or receiving welfare benefits. Police could search Chinese dwellings without warrants. Chinese women were not allowed to immigrate here until the rules were loosened after the Japanese invaded Manchuria in the 1930s. As recently as 1961, even New Zealand-born Chinese had to get a permit to re-enter the country if they left it. She also considers the barriers to acceptance — most obviously appearance — but the 1960s to 1980s saw a decline in discrimination and apparent acceptance at last. Chinese New Zealanders were largely invisible and strove not to draw attention to themselves.

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