Monday, January 4, 2010

More Collectible Maori Books

I added to my collection of old Maori books again a few days ago. There’s nothing I like better than poking about in second-hand bookstores, leafing through old pages, noting the gathered histories of old pen marks, owners’ names and a note or two. I was very pleased with my latest three. Top of the list is a thin little book – a leaflet almost – called The Birds of Maoriland, by A.W. Reed, illustrated by P.Newman and published by A.H & A.W Reed, NZ – no date but it looks to be about 1940s and is part of the Raupo Series of School Readers. It features little tales about various birds – “the tales Maori tell of the birds of the forest and lake and coast.” Much older is “Our Maoris,” by Lady Martin, a facsimile edition (Wilson & Horton), “Published under the direction of the Committee of General Literature and Education, Appointed by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. 1884. It’s a frail copy with foxed-brown pages. I’m intrigued by Lady Martin’s ‘first encounter with Maoris’ in 1842 but I’m almost too afraid to read it for fear of damaging the copy. A much more sturdy volume is The Maori People in the Nineteen-Sixties,” a symposium edited by Erik Schwimmer and first published in 1968 by Longman Paul, NZ. It has some fabulous photographs from the sixties including a good number of now-leading Maori artists in their youth – people like Ralph Hotere, Fred Graham, Para Matchitt, Cliff Whiting, Arnold Wilson and Selwyn Muru. Lovely to see.

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