Finding classic ethnography in second-hand bookstores or charity shops is one of my great pleasures. This weekend I rumbled a copy of Te Rangi Hiroa Sir Peter Buck’s “The Coming of the Maori” for the bargain sum of £2.50.

CotM-Buck
It’s a bit mildew-spotted on the outside but in great condition inside.

 

 

dedication
I wonder who Barbara was to get such a scholarly and interesting present from her Dad in 1958? (That’s my bookstamp there, yes, isn’t it great? I like ferns. A gift from my ever-thoughtful sweetheart.)

 

 

kete
One of the plates at that back: a collection of woven flax kits (kete). I remember trying to do even the most basic weaving as a kid and being astonished at the fine detail that skilled weavers can produce. The middle-left is particularly lovely.

Te Rangi Hiroa was an amazing man – an anthropologist, politician, doctor, health campaigner, and served in the armed forces – and all this at a time when discrimination against Māori people in public life was routine in New Zealand. The article linked here mentions the epilogue from “Vikings of the Sunrise” where Te Rangi Hiroa considers the passing of a traditional Polynesian way of life:

“The old net is full of holes, its meshes have rotted, and it has been laid aside.

What new net goes afishing?”

I had not realised before that this was where Witi Ihimaera took the title of his book of short stories “The New Net Goes Fishing”. Those stories were classic high-school reading when I was growing up, and I can see how the stories resonated with Te Rangi Hiroa’s theme.

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