Monday, December 14, 2009

A Small Book Collection

I recently began collecting old books on New Zealand Maori – mostly small books (since I have a thing about small books in general); and odd little pamphlet-style booklets. It all began with a book I found called “The Maori Builds” by Alan Taylor and W.A Taylor. It’s a small volume that considers ‘Life Art and Architecture from Moahunter Days” and was published in 1966. I loved its black and white illustrations of early architecture and I knew I had to have it. Since then I’ve combed second-hand book shops, always on the lookout for early books and especially those from the 1950s and 1960s, and have acquired fifteen great little titles – everything from “Te Maori,” to illustrated guides on Maori art, guides to protocol and customs, assorted Maori dictionaries and leaflets on the Ngai Tahu Treaty Settlement. The three pictured above are my latest acquisitions – the tiny little “Korero Maori,” an early book on te Reo and “easy Maori conversations,” produced in Wanganui (no date); “Kuma is a Maori Girl,” a very quirky 1961 children’s book that provides a terrific glimpse into early sixties life in New Zealand; and a good old Weet-Bix card album called “The Maori Way of Life,” complete with all the collectible cards that came in boxes of our favourite breakfast cereal. That in itself is such a statement of the times and it reminds me of my own childhood and fighting with my brothers over who would get the cards (or the plastic figures) out of the next new box of cereal. It was always a challenge to get enough cards to fill the booklets they were designed for – perhaps that’s why I was so excited about finding this booklet in its entirety.

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