WHERE THE REKOHU BONE SINGS
by Tina Makereti
Co-editor of the wonderful recent collection of Oceanic writing Black Marks on the White Page, Tina Makereti's beautifully plotted and observed 2014 novel Where the Rekohu Bone Sings explores the idea of belonging and the complexities of identity with Moriori, Māori and Pākehā heritage.
Gliding between the Chatham Islands (Rēkohu) and London, and from 1835 to contemporary times the narrative deals with the effects after Māori arrived in New Zealand and massacred the Moriori. Mere and her family slave Iraia grow up together in the Queen Charlotte Sound. Despite their differing social status, the two grow close and run away together to Wellington.
A parallel story sees twins Lulu and Bigs born with an extremely rare occurrence: Lulu is completely white and Bigs is brown. Under the watchful eye of the spirit figure of the bone of Rēkohu, the mythical is fluidly weaved into this stunning story of dislocation, family secrets and engaging with cultural heritage.
STRUGGLE WITHOUT END: KA WHAWHAI TONU MATOU
by Ranginui Walker
A strong advocate of Māoridom and a staunch champion of Te Reo Māori, trailblazer Ranginui Walker's work led it to being recognised as an official language in New Zealand. This groundbreaking bestseller outlines the history of Aotearoa from a Māori perspective and was writer, academic and educator Walker's magnum opus.
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Originally published in 1990 and revised and updated in 2004, Walker's vigorous and important text outlines Māori life before the arrival of European explorers on our shores, the quest for political and economic autonomy and equality, the long-standing fallout of colonialism, and the developments in post-colonial New Zealand.
by Apirana Taylor
Apirana Taylor has had a long and prolific career in writing and theatre. This gripping novel is gritty social realism at its finest and delves into the murky alcohol-soaked, weed-smoke haze of the criminal underbelly with emotional truth and humour. Mack is an enigmatic street philosopher and Puti is an ex gang member.
The duo scrape by on the margins of New Zealand society but crave a better life beyond the highs and lows of addiction and poverty. While this novel doesn't shy away from the harsh realities of the hard edges of life for marginalised working-class Māori, mental health and addiction, it is a beautifully realised and hopeful story of friendship and the act of discovering solace and redemption through connecting with ancestral roots.
by Patricia Grace
One of the grande dames of New Zealand literature, Patricia Grace was the first Māori woman in New Zealand to publish a book, with her 1975 collection of short stories Wairiki. Potiki (which means last-born child) from 1986 is a true classic and an important novel which remains politically prescient. Set in a small coastal marae town in New Zealand, a tight knit community is rattled as townie developers move in with flashy development plans that will devastate the land and community.
The novel, which won the New Zealand Book Award for Fiction in 1987 is superbly crafted and politically charged. Following the lives of Hemi, his adopted son prophet child Tokowaru and wife Roimata as the effects of colonialism continue to cast a shadow, the multi-voiced narrative explores abuse of power, exploitation, land politics, gentrification and the everyday effects these things have on the ordinary people in a community.