WITH ANTHONY TROLLOPE IN NEW ZEALAND
reviewed by E. E. Bush
A two-month visit in 1872 by the famous English novelist, Anthony Trollope, resulted in the publication in 1873 of his impressions, together with much background of both the history and the geography of New Zealand. The book has proved a valuable source of New Zealand history; much of it was in the making.
Mr Reed has edited this work, trimming it of much of the detail that is known, and leaving the author's impressions. In addition, Mr Reed has reversed the process; he has included impressions of Trollope gained by people. Personal and newspaper writings have been mulled over by the editor to extract ‘the impression left upon the people of these islands a century ago by this great Victorian writer’.
Readers of this Journal will be particularly interested to read Trollope's description of his visit to the thermal district, via Tauranga and Maketu. His guide was none other than Captain Gilbert Mair. With his experiences in the pursuit of Te Kooti so recent, Mair must have been an entertaining guide, and no doubt much history was re-lived as Mair pointed out spots that held incident for him.
Trollope's description of the Pink and White Terraces, included in this volume, reads like a scene from one of his novels, and reveals him as a craftsman of the pen.
Mr Reed has done a service both to the reader of literature and to the student of history to ‘re-create’ Trollope's book, so that it would be, as the title suggests, ‘With Anthony Trollope in New Zealand’; and it was a stroke of genuis to reverse the process, and include impressions left by the great man.
MAORI WOOD SCULPTURE
A H. & A. W. Reed, $9.50
reviewed by J. M. McEwen
This is a beautifully produced book with a fine range of illustrations, both in colour and black and white. It is the most ambitious work on Maori carving since Hamilton's Maori Art was published at the end of last century. In a letter to me, the author says, “As a book I intended it as a selection of good carvings presented with documentation placed conveniently close to plates to help and sponsor Maori carving. It is not a book to compete with any that has appeared in the past although I hope it will help books of the future.” With that background, the book is an excellent publication. It is by no means the last word on the subject. We still need an authoritative work which covers the whole field of Maori carving including such aspects as the analysis of design, the story of the individual carvers and their characteristics, the derivation of Maori designs, and so on. Some work on these topics has been done by Sir Gilbert Archey and Dr H. D. Skinner, but a great deal more remains to be done.
Inevitably in a work of this nature, there is a certain amount of theorising and Dr Barrow is one of those who believes the manaia to be a bird-headed creature of some symbolic importance. There is in fact no authoritative Maori evidence that I am aware of which supports this view. On the other hand, one cannot but be impressed by Archey's evidence that the manaia is simply a human figure shown in profile. Manaia is a widespread word in Polynesia which basically means ‘decoration’ or ‘embellishment’. There seems little doubt that many of the smaller manaia figures seen in carvings serve as embellishment. They are frequently used, for example, in all sorts of distorted shapes to fill in odd corners on a carved slab.
When I read the book, I had the impression that Dr Barrow thought little of the carving done in the last century and that he could see little future for it in a world where it had no social importance. I put this suggestion to the author and it is as well to quote his reply: “I am distressed
that you have the impression that I am unaware of the place of carving in modern Maori life or its meaning to modern Maoris. To tell you the truth the meaning of this book to me, whether I say it or not in the text, is just that it will be of service to furthering appreciation of Maori woodsculpture and of Maori culture in general.”
Anyone who is interested in Maori carving should buy this book. As I have said above, I do not think it is the last word on the subject but it is a work that interested people cannot afford to be without.
Thames and Hudson, $3.50
reviewed by G. M. Lawson
This very readable book is one of a series ‘New nations and peoples library’ produced by the publishers. As such it is compact, brisk in its style, and factual, while at the same time it very confidently reflects the opinions of its compilers, Jackson and Harré.
The book opens with a resume of New Zealand's physical character including notes on its geological history, flora, and fauna. This section is scientific but still comprehensible and understandable to the layman. Next, and perhaps of special interest to the readers of ‘Te Ao Hou’ is a chapter on the Polynesian settlement of New Zealand. The chapter outlines the stories of Maui and Kupe and then outlines past and present theories of Polynesian migration, the canoe tradition, and the probable route of the first settlers from Havaiki.
Up to this point the book is objective and factual with no evidence of any ideas of their own which the authors might have entertained. This state of affairs changes in the third chapter, ‘The European Impact’. Here for the first time the book's historical commentary is enriched with interpretive comment. In a tale which by no means whitewashes the early settlers, present day pest controllers, or other users of natural resources, the reader is informed of the broad changes which the arrival of the Pakeha has impacted on the land, its people, and its animal and vegetable life.
I think the average New Zealander would really start to sit up and take notice by the time he reached the next chapter ‘Where pragmatism is king’. Dealing with the development of New Zealand's own feeling of identity and New Zealanders' growing sense of nationhood the authors comment, among other assertions,… it is the postwar generation that is providing the first real nationalism. This generation sees New Zealand in a new perspective. Britain, far from being ‘home’ as it was to earlier generations, is now a friendly foreign nation restricting their entry and selfishly pursuing its own interests. They see New Zealand in its Pacific setting, manoeuvring awkwardly between the power of the United States on one side, and the enormous problems and potentialities of Asia on the other. All no doubt true enough but food for thought nevertheless, and do we really see ourselves as ‘manoeuvring awkwardly’?
The chapter traces the development of New Zealand's nationhood and the emergence of the welfare state, and attributes these developments to a sense of egalitarianism amongst New Zealanders at different times. At first this stemmed from a rejection of the values of the ‘home’ country, and later from a constructive neo-colonial arrogance. In discussing the maturing of our political ideology, if there is such a thing, the interesting comment is made that the lack of socialist leanings in New Zealand in the late nineteenth century was attributable to the presence of the same problems as those which confronted Europe, but being solved in different ways, i.e. by social reforms within a modified capitalistic system. The inference to me is, that but for good luck rather than good management, New Zealand could have become the world's first truly socialist state, and without a revolution to boot. The intrusion of these hypotheses, although interesting, lends little to the credibility of the book as a whole.
And so the story unfolds, touching on our ‘Politics of mediocrity’, social welfare provisions, ties with Britain, racial and ethnic ingredients, immigration (both Polynesian and other), and a chapter called ‘Tangata whenua’ whose content is clear from the title.
I enjoyed reading the book and often found myself entertained despite myself. The scholarship is a little skimpy in places but remember that here two men, one of them an Englishman, have set themselves the task of recounting the entire history of
New Zealand people, and New Zealand thought in less than 300 pages. Considering the very wide ranging subject matter of the book, they have done a creditable job.
One could suspect the motives of the writers. What is this book for? I think it is obviously supposed to do what it appears, i.e. form part of a series on modern societies, to be read by people other than those who live in them. But much of the tongue-in-cheek comment of ‘New Zealand would be lost on non New Zealanders, e.g. “While ballroom dancing has a small but enthusiastic following, the ballet creates wide, if relatively uninformed, interest in New Zealand. As a participant pastime it is confined to the very young…. In many cases ‘the competitions’ provide a rather pathetic opportunity for enthusiastic mothers to indulge in a vicarious form of exhibitionism…” Again, all true enough, but does this state of affairs throw sufficient light on the New Zealand character to warrant special attention for the benefit of the foreign reader? I think not, which leaves only the alternative, that the message is at least partly intended for New Zealanders and that we are being got at.
After reading the book a second time, I have been convinced that we deserve to be got at, and at least Messrs Jackson and Harré have done it in a well-informed, readable, and amusing manner. I recommend the book to those who have a knowledge of New Zealand and who would like to see how it looks to a team who can boast the intimate knowledge of a local and the penetrating analysis of a detached observer.
The photographs are representative and technically good, there is a good glossary, and an adequate index.
POLITICS OF THE NEW ZEALAND MAORI
Protest and Co-operation, 1891–1909
by John A. Williams
Published for the University of Auckland by the Oxford University Press, $7.75
reviewed by Professor Angus Ross
In the outside world New Zealand is best known for three things: first, its wonderful green grass and in consequence its pastoral and agricultural products; secondly, its social welfare legislation, especially in the days when New Zealand was something of a social laboratory; thirdly, its reasonably good record in the matter of race relations. The fact that visiting scholars seek to study this last subject is proof of its interest and importance, even if they have caused embarrassment both by the facts they have uncovered or by the opinions they have expressed. Sometimes, too, they have anticipated publication by New Zealanders who could have said so much more so much better. Harrison M. Wright and David P. Ausubel are Americans who qualify for special mention in this connection. Another American scholar, John A. Williams, associate professor of History at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, can now have his name added to the growing list of visiting writers whose books on race relations in New Zealand warrant serious attention.
In his introduction to this study of Maori politics in the short but important period between 1891 and 1909, Professor Williams explains his purpose: after joining most authorities in claiming that the Maori has been much more successful than the American Indian or the Australian Aborigine in adapting to a European-dominated situation, he raises the question of how success is to be defined or measured and asks “what were the Maori goals, and how successful were the Maoris in achieving them?” Conscious that the interests of Maori and settler conflicted at very many points and that the Maoris had to use various techniques to solve the problem of improving their position in the new society that was emerging in the late 19th century, Williams says, “An aim of this study is to focus more than previously on Maori protest, while avoiding, if possible, an overcorrection by which the important role of co-operation would be overlooked”. His concern for balance has led him to reiterate, “The aim of this study is to correct the previous overemphasis on co-operation and harmony in Maori-settler relations, but not in order to show that these relations were therefore bad.” The carrying-out of these intentions may not quite measure up to the clarity with which Professor Williams has defined his aims, but nevertheless he has in this scholarly and well documented study broken new ground and given his readers much food for thought.
While its examination of the period up to 1890 is necessarily limited, this book proceeds to dismiss the theory that a Maori renaissance took place in and after that year, since the Maori protests which the Young Maori party took up were also the concern of the Maori King Movement and of the Great Council (Kauhanganui) which it established. Maori opposition to laws made and administered by Pakeha in the interests of Pakeha took various forms: the 1892 agreement to form a Kotahitanga, or union, was early associated with the decision to form a separate Maori parliament and the publication of such Maori news papers as Huia Tangata Kotahi at Hastings, Te Puke ki Hikurangi, which lasted from 1897 till 1913, and The Jubilee (Te Tiupiri) at Wanganui, all of which provided eloquent evidence of the literary and political abilities of their promoters. The author touches, if sometimes too lightly, on the divisions in the Maori ranks and the degree to which those who wanted a state within a state had to give way to those who favoured a pro-governmental line as a means to an end towards which well-intentioned Europeans were also lobbying and pressing. Just as, at an early stage, he raised the important question whether James Carroll was “primarily the spokesman of the Maoris in the government or merely the spokesman of the government to the Maoris”, he could have followed this line of enquiry much further in respect to Sir Apirana Ngata and other leaders who emerged in the period under study. Such questions are more easily raised than answered. Certainly, mixed motives inspired those who helped Seddon to secure the passage of the Maori Lands Administration Bill and the Maori Councils Bill of 1900, two important acts which failed to give anything like complete satisfaction to the Maori people. At best, the Maori councils then established were only partially successful as agencies of Maori self-government. Similarly Maori land problems remained unsolved. In the period up to 1909 progress was made and the peace was maintained, but neither co-operation nor protest, singly or together, had produced entirely satisfactory answers.
Politics of the New Zealand Maori is something like the protests with which it deals: it raises questions without providing full or satisfactory answers. It reveals how limited is our knowledge of certain people and movements. How far, for example, was Rua a reformer who deserved to get more support outside the Urewera country than he in fact received? Were Tana Taingakawa and T. T. Rawhiti justified in splitting from the king movement and claiming they could unite the Maori people under the Treaty of Waitangi? Has not Professor Williams himself been too glib in his discussion of European standards of justice and sympathy for the Maori and in his generalizations about the importance of the interplay between Maori protest and Maori co-operation? In general, the answer must be that he has written a pioneer survey of questions raised in the late 19th century which continue to have their importance in the present day and, in so doing, he has placed both Pakeha and Maori in his debt. His book should be essential reading for all with a concern for the promotion of the best interests of the Maori even where differences arise as to what are the best interests and as to how they can be realised. It should certainly be studied carefully by the young men of Nga Tamatoa and those who have been strongly impressed by the patterns of development in African and Asian countries where Europeans constitute a minority. Much work remains to be done in New Zealand both in historical research and in planning for the future. Professor Williams has pointed out several topics on which New Zealand and visiting scholars can and should do further and fuller research and writing.