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No. 23 (July 1958)
– 54 –

BOOKS

THE ORIGINS OF THE MAORI WARS

I have had the privilege of attending a great many Maori functions on a good many maraes. over a long period of years, and I have found that the Maori wars, and especially the Taranaki and Waikato wars, are not “old far-off forgotten things” by any means. They have played a very real and important part in Maori thinking during past generations and they still influence Maori thinking today. And pakeha thinking too, for that matter.

Wars and their consequences of land-confiscation and their heritage of bitterness and misunder-standing are important things. Nobody wants to see the bitterness and misunderstanding continue. The best way to get rid of them is to know the facts about them and that is where Dr Sinclair's book on the origins of the Maori wars is so important. Dr Sinclair deals with facts as facts, where so many of our historians have dealt with the interpretation of those facts to prove something or other. And I do not mean just the professional historians either.

Dr Keith Sinclair is Senior Lecturer in History at Auckland University. His training has given him two things. The knowledge of how to go about getting the facts and the ability to see them as facts, and not as arguments for or against a point of view. That is why his book is not only interesting but very important to both Maori and European.

He has spent years in filling up the gaps n known history. When the gaps had been filled to the best of his ability he has re-examined existing knowledge and opinion in the light of the fresh facts he has brought to light. Consequently, anyone who reads his book cannot fail to get a new insight into the conditions and the forces which caused the Maori wars to be fought.

During my lifetime I have heard a lot of discussion, by Maoris among Maoris, by pakehas among pakehas, and by the two peoples together. Frankly, there were often times when I felt they did not really know what they were talking about. How should they, and unless they devoted years and years to painstaking fact finding, how could they? There are not many of us, of either race, who have had the time, or the opportunities, or the facilties to make a thorough, detached study of the subject.

Dr Sinclair has had all these things. He has gathered all the obtainable facts. Having gathered them he has assembled them and presented them in a form which any thinking person can absorb. We cannot get away from the fact that these things happened, because their consequences still affect us in some way or another. There has long been a need for someone to find out why they happened and how they happened, and to assemble all the information possible. Dr Sinclair has not only found out these things, but he has made the information available to any one who can read with his mind as well as with his eyes.

Even if you do not really go in for this sort of reading. I think you will be interested in at least dipping into this book. Once you have gone that far, then I think you will go the rest of the way and read the book from cover to cover with interest and enjoyment. Then if you find yourself talking about the Maori wars and their causes you will know what you are talking about.

Leo Fowler.

THE MAORI AS AN ARTIST

It is time Maori art came out of the museum, out of the meeting house, into our homes and our lives. “The Maori as an Artist” is a fine book of lithographs that could well grace any bookshelf.

My only wish was that it were a loose-leaf folder, so that the better pictures such as “Small female figure”, “tekoteko”, “poupou” or “detail of the interior of a meeting house” could go on my wall. It would be a shame to cut such an expensive book, but I found some of these lithographs much better than others.

Many are clear-cut, accurate copies of carvings and artifacts from the Dominion Museum, but several only suggest the original without the same simplicity of scope and complexity of detail.

It is unfortunate that more is not being done, either through photographs or lithographs such as these to preserve Maori carving, an art that has suffered much with the passing of time.

I am sorry that Renzo Padovan's talent aligned only on objects already preserved in the Dominion Museum (all except one), when there are so many little-known or unknown carvings out in the wind and the weather, carvings that will one day be lost to us, unless we realise, as Renzo Padovan does, the value and the workmanship that is all too often concealed or neglected as at Tama pahore or at Whakatohea.

The finest tribute we can pay to the mana of the carvers of the past is to preserve their tapu their mana, their thoughts, all that remain of them in the wood that will not endure without our care. A book like “The Maori as an Artist” is valuable, in that it helps the New Zealander, both Maori and Pakeha, to care for this distinctively New Zealand art.

Tini Whetu Te Aute