Go to National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa Go to Te Ao Hou homepage
No. 57 (December 1966)
– 61 –



E hoa e Eric,

Tena koe me to hoa rangatira e noho mai na i tawahi. Kaati.

I have just finished your book. Don't start stuttering or stammering, I am not going to attack it. Mind you I must confess that was my original intention. Anyway, it wouldn't be me if I hadn't thought about it. For the life of me, I don't know how you did it. You have covered a fantastic field. If you had made serious omissions, I would have forgiven you, because I well remember 10 years ago, when you stayed with me and my family in Auckland. Remember, on the third night of your stay you didn't turn up until the next evening because you had forgotten our address and I suspect you had even forgotten my name.

The publication of your book is timely, like the pipiwharauroa from across the oceans, the harbinger of spring heralding the season of warmth and plenty. It's easy to read. Your technique in using short snappy and to the point chapters, has to be read to be believed. They are informative and factual, and your facility for compressing your material into a succinct statement is truly magnificent. Other writers would have written tomes whereas you cover the subject in one page. Fantastic. It is the kind of book that once you start reading you don't want to put down. I go so far as to say that even if your mokopunas or relatives arrived on your front doorstep, you would be, to put it mildly, a little annoyed at the interruption. Your introduction, in my opinion, is an understatement.

Obviously, in your travels you have come across the proverb 1 ‘e kore te kumara e ki te mangaro ia’. However, e hoa, don't be whakama, let me sing your praises now, not when it is too late.

I consider this book to be the best of its kind that has yet been published. It is not only good for the Maori in having a better understanding of himself, but it is also good for the Pakeha to enable him to understand his fellow New Zealander. For me personally, it has helped to fill in the gaps and to have a clearer view of myself.

The chapters on Kinship, Learning to be a Maori, Modern Maori, Maori Revival, and the Conclusion are gems. Mind you this is an unfair statement—I should have said all the chapters were gems. You have made the quest for identity much easier, by covering the past in the way you have, and stressing Maori thought and philosophy of life. The present can be better understood and the future made more coherent.

Your book, or should I say our book, is a ‘must’ for all people who work with and live alongside Maori people, more especially social workers, teachers, employers and students.

Reading the book, it is obvious that you are steeped in things Maori. You are truly a tohunga. The book is perfect but like the master of old, you have purposely made an error and that is at page 143, where you talk about the challenge (wero) and you added an ‘h’ making it whero. This will make many of our friends up the Coast chuckle with glee. I have a faint suspicion that you are having some fun at someone's expense. It must be your Maori sense of humour. It struck me as rather incongruous that Chapter 10 on Law and Order, has a full page reproduction captioned ‘Warrior Chieftains of New Zealand 1846. What you didn't do was to name the chieftains. Possibly you didn't want to show any favouritism but, in case you didn't know I will name them for you, and point out that they were not all chieftains, one was a chieftainess. They are from left to right—Hariata daughter of Hongi Hika (of musket fame) and wife of Hone Heke, Hone Heke (of flagstaff fame) and Kawiti of Ngatihine.

I recall when I was at primary school many years ago the teachers referred to them as ‘rebels’ much to my annoyance, because they are my ‘bones’.

Well, Eric, I should have followed your example by being brief and the review would have read as follows:

2 ‘Ae marika mahi tika ana.’

Let not this be the first nor the last book, but the forerunner of many more.

Ma te rungarawa korua e manaki.

He oi ano
Nu to hoa.

1 The kumara never says it is sweet.

2Tis indeed a magnificent job.

– 62 –


This attractive booklet of thirty pages is a second edition of a work published in 1940 by the grand old man of New Zealand ethnology, Dr H. D. Skinner. In this edition an additional part has been supplied by D. R. Simmons of the Otago Museum. There are 40 illustrations of tiki, eight of them in colour on the eye-catching covers of the booklet. All those, Maori and Pakeha, who are interested in Maori art should have this work.

A study of the illustrations and the descriptions will show how inaccurate are most of the pictures of tiki that we see nowadays. There are two main types of tiki, one with both hands on the hips, the other with one hand on the chest and one on the hip. The second type is quite often suspended by the arm instead of the head. The two types have distinct characteristics in the shape of the head and other features. One thing to be observed is that the tongue of a tiki very seldom protrudes over the lower jaw and that it is never painted red. The tongue is a narrow strip, sometimes forked, and occasionally extending over the side of the jaw.

Skinner deals with the often repeated myth that a tiki is a fertility charm shaped like an embryo and worn only by women. As he states, there is abundant evidence from the earliest Europeans to visit New Zealand that men wore tiki in olden times. I agree with his view that a tiki acquired much of its mana by virtue of its having been worn by great people. Through such associations it is quite likely that some tiki would gain a reputation as powerful charms. This booklet is recommended to those interested in Maori art.


Unfortunately, I can find nothing to praise in A. H. and A. W. Reed's recently-published series of three Fairy Tales in Maori by John Stinchcombe, excepting perhaps the author's

– 63 –

enthusiasm and industry. These little books are translations, or rather adaptations, of the traditional fairy tales, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Little Red Riding-Hood and Jack and the Beanstalk.

There is undoubtedly a need for supplementary reading material in Maori for children, but translated material can never take the place of good, original writing by a native speaker, even when the translator is a master of Maori idiom. English traditional fairy tales would be better left to their proper function of opening the doors to English literature for our children.

The author has achieved a fair competence in Maori, but has a long way to go and a great deal yet to learn before he is ready for the task he has undertaken in this series. The Maori he writes is, for native speakers, ludicrous and for learners, dangerous. There are too many serious errors in construction—misuse of verb tenses, words used in quite the wrong sense, too many obsolete words and expressions, and all the other evidence of a too superficial knowledge of a language too quickly gained. Perhaps Mr Stinchcombe's undoubted scholastic ability has been his downfall here.

The major disaster area, however, is in the field of idiom, particularly the unfortunate attempts to translate English idiom directly into Maori, with such results as ‘… ka kanikani tana ngakau i te koa.’ … his heart danced for joy.

The Maori titles given to the stories are Hine-Urukehu (Goldilocks), Ko Potae-Whero raua ko te Wuruhi (Little Red Riding-Hood) and Ko Tamahae me te Rakau Pini (Jack and the Beanstalk). I must confess to feeling rather incensed at the author's temerity in taking the name ‘Tamahae’ for ‘Jack’, in the Beanstalk story.

From, I imagine, a misguided belief that because the stories were being translated into Maori, they should have some Maori flavouring added, the author has given us some incongruous

additions to the originals. Goldilocks picks kowhai blossoms in the pine forest, Red Riding-Hood's grandma is a moko'd kuia and Jack's giant lives above the clouds in a palisaded pa complete with Maori food stores, kits and calabashes.

The illustrations are in keeping with the text.

I hope that both author and publishers will think twice before adding to the series; I hope also that among those reading this review there will be some who have the ability to write original stories in Maori but have not yet done so, who will be prodded into making the effort.