A journey around Kendrick Smithyman’s Atua Wera
Originally published in Landfall 194 (Spring 1997): 306-21, as winning
entry of inaugural Landfall essay competition. Included in a forthcoming
collection of Gregory O'Brien's essays from Victoria University Press in 2002.
1 state of the art
The wheel in front of me moves of its own accord as we steer a course away from the Dargaville foreshore. I am strapped inside one pontoon of a tunnel-hulled speedboat. Each hull bears a six-cylinder, two-hundred-and-something horsepower outboard motor. The brown waters of the Northern Wairoa River are drawn noisily up into the cooling systems of these engines then discharged behind us, the trickle becoming a white veil of spray as we increase speed. (I have to strain my neck to observe this as my full-face helmet restricts peripheral vision.) The driver in the other pontoon spins his steering wheel—which is identical to the wheel in front of me—then he presses the accelerator.
The vessel (which the driver told me earlier was a ‘state of the art’ racer) labours for a moment as it lifts up out of the water, the cavity between the two pontoons becoming a tunnel of air on which we accelerate, turning southwards down the river.
Within minutes, a small town is passing to the right of us, with its school, a church or two, the white walls and gleaming roofs of a few streets’ houses. At this moment, we are travelling at just under one hundred miles per hour and I am staring sideways past the proﬁle of the other helmeted head, transﬁxed by the motionless township of Te Kopuru, where the poet Kendrick Smithyman was born in 1922 and where, during the Depression, he was brought up in a rest home run by his mother.
2 a view of the Northern Wairoa from Wellington
From my present vantage point—a winter afternoon in Wellington with volumes of Smithyman’s poems arrayed around me on the ﬂoor—the roar of the two outboard motors is stirring up the Northern Wairoa River and the landscape which runs like two parallel rails on either side of the expanse of brown water. The noise is unsettling the town, interrupting the quiet upbringing of the poet ...
Directly behind us, in the distance now, the wake of our boat has just touched both sides of the river. The surface of the Northern Wairoa River, observed from a vessel travelling at this speed, is made of velvet: a buzzing, vibrating material, a warm glow emanating from its depths. Or it is a light table on which transparent images might be shone up into our eyes.
3 a true story
There was a story Kendrick Smithyman related on a number of occasions concerning his mother’s retirement home in Te Kopuru. Two of the elderly residents had fought on opposing sides during the American Civil War and, whenever they passed each other in the corridor, they would attempt to strike one another with their walking sticks.
4 arrival and departure
I have two means at my disposal with which to begin thinking about the poetry of Kendrick Smithyman. The ﬁrst is a powerboat slicing in half the Northern Wairoa River. The second we will come to.
Smithyman’s last, greatest book was published early in 1997—two years after the death of its author. Atua Wera is a momentous, extraordinary book-length poem, rich in characters, details and the faintly modulated voices of history as ﬁltered through the very particular sensibility of the poet.
Atua Wera (the ﬁery god) is the story of Papahurihia, a nineteenth century Maori leader and tohunga, who lived in the Hokianga area, about seventy miles north of Smithyman’s birthplace.
Smithyman knows the territory of the poem. More than that, he is of it. Since he was a child, he has felt the ‘cold breeze over the gumﬁelds / where trees bled, died, fell, became swamp’, and the perambulations of colonial history. Beneath the swarm of historical details, we discern an obsessive attachment to, and curiosity about, the small twists and turns in the natural history and human affairs of the North:
Makoare Taonui went to war,
went with him his brother Te Huru
who was killed, went with him his son
Daniel and his son Abraham.
“I have a maul and wedge,” said
Macquarrie, “that will split Heke”
but his own were split ﬁrst,
Te Huru, then Abraham. They never took
the bullet out of him ...
Kendrick Smithyman knows the patterns small vessels leave behind them in the shallow water of a harbour, the puzzling movements of estuary tides; theirs is an enigmatic music or language not unlike the music / language of his poems. The poet’s business is to deploy words so as to convey the mental, as well as natural, patterning of such phenomena; to invent a language that carries these associations in its very fabric.
Like the waters of the Kaipara or Hokianga Harbours, Smithyman’s poems have always been sites for all manner of indirection, anachronism, convolution and what at times appears to be awkwardness. In the end, however, they offer a coherent if perplexing experience, one true to both the order and the chaos of the natural world and its processes.
5 ending with clarity
For the most part, the verse in Atua Wera is clearer and crisper than you might expect of Smithyman—the epic scale of the poem means the poet isn’t trying to achieve his usual fanatical compression and constant turning around of phrases and meanings to realign or reconﬁgure them. (He still makes such manoeuvres but the relaxed, unfolding manner of the story being related, the characters being sketched in and the demands of their voices keeps the poem from becoming too embroiled.)
While phrases from source materials—historical documents, oral histories, the Bible and so on—enter the poem relatively untouched, such pre-existent materials are positioned within the bulk of the poem to achieve a carefully manipulated linguistic surface. The 261-page poem is aligned with recent historical ‘documentary’ poems by Evan S. Connell, Ernesto Cardenal and Laurie Duggan, although the closest poetic work I have read to Atua Wera is Thomas Merton’s 1968 sequence The Geography of Lograire, which similarly blends ethnographic and historical sources to enter into the life of various ethnic communities, most pertinently a tribe from Papua New Guinea. Like Merton, Smithyman is able to inhabit the spaces of superstition, measuring the distance between cultures and tracing the links and disjunctions.
Also, like Merton’s poem, Atua Wera tracks the progress of an assured voice entering unstable territory and attempting to inscribe some kind of order on that state of chaos (or, more correctly, that yet to be understood order). Both books arrive at similar conclusions: that the fabrications of history (which are supposedly ﬁxed and factual) and religion / superstition (supposedly ﬂuid and imagined) are of the same order.
6 a structure to fall apart in
There’s a paradoxical sense in Smithyman that the more structured the writing the less clear the meaning. In Atua Wera he allows the structures to relax, to unwind, to ﬂow and blend—hence, a greater clarity when compared with the rest of his oeuvre. The poetry is relaxed enough to become at times prosaic, but it also maintains a forward momentum Smithyman’s short poems often lack (or, more correctly I suspect, don’t want). Perhaps this stems from the origins of the poem in oral records and transcriptions—it is less written.
This book casts a long illuminating shadow back over all of Kendrick Smithyman’s work. Time will tell, but I suspect this complex, majestic poem will be a key to unlocking the historical, literary and ethnographic materials Smithyman’s other poems carry within their apparently inscrutable bulk. Leaving behind a huge piece of work like Atua Wera will certainly come to be seen as a key event in the life of this poet. Smithyman knew exactly what he was doing.
7 Northern Wairoa vista
When I moved to Dargaville in late 1978, aged seventeen, I was aware that at least two New Zealand writers had been associated with that township nestled alongside the Northern Wairoa River. The ﬁrst, Jane Mander, had—or so I was told—been a reporter on the Northland Times, the newspaper on which I was about to become employed. The second was Kendrick Smithyman, whose birth in Te Kopuru was sufﬁcient impetus to set me reading his poetry. Not surprisingly, I was soon experiencing difﬁculties with the verse which even my youthful enthusiasm couldn’t alleviate. I was ﬂummoxed by the dense surface of the poetry, its wide, often arcane sphere of reference, its unusual (to my ear) musicality, the profound (it would seem) murkiness of its thought and the unpredictable directions in which that thought was directed.
My experience of ﬁrst reading Smithyman is indistinguishable from my experience of living in Dargaville and, as part of my reporting job, travelling to Te Kopuru, Glink’s Gully and environs. It was a region that (in keeping with Smithyman’s poetry) didn’t offer up its meanings, pleasures or beauties all that readily.
Probably the closest poet to Smithyman I was aware of at the time was Dylan Thomas—although the Welsh poet’s soaring intonation and mystical attachment to nature made Smithyman seem, by comparison, fettered and earthbound, or else lost somewhere in the library. While Smithyman offered washes of imagery mediated through an obsessive eye and an alluring intelligence, his poetic voice—as I then experienced it—was the crusty intonation of a man struggling with very difﬁcult materials and making us share in that struggle.
I spent over a year living in the vicinity of the Northern Wairoa River—known variously as the Upside-Down River or the Gravy River, on account of its slow-moving, heavily silted bulk—during which time I made little progress with Smithyman’s verse. By 1980 I had decided to transplant back to the city and study art history and English at Auckland University where, coincidentally, Kendrick Smithyman was a lecturer in the English Department.
8 point of origin
Soon after leaving Dargaville I saw Francis Ford Coppola’s ﬁlm Apocalypse Now. That now famous Conrad-esque gunboat journey up a Vietnamese river took me back to the experience of speeding down the Northern Wairoa River with which I began these reﬂections. If there is anything I hunt out in Kendrick Smithyman’s poetry, it is those strange, dislocating instances when Northland touches the rest of the world, when the muddy Northern Wairoa River ﬂows off across other territories, just as, in James Joyce’s imagination, the River Liffey ﬂowed beyond the borders of Ireland and through other countries.
It’s not that Smithyman’s poetry keeps returning to the ‘point of origin’—to the Te Kopuru rest home and environs—rather that the location has somehow moulded or informed the writing.
It is a point from which the poet operates, is orientated.
He may well owe something to the isolation of the Northern Wairoa district and the area’s curious mingling of cultural elements—Maori, Pakeha, Dalmatian and other. Without detracting from the singularity of his approach, Smithyman has a kindred spirit in the abstract artist Milan Mrkusich (born 1926), who also hails from the Northern Wairoa district. Like the poet, he took a similarly personal set of creative objectives and devoted his life to the realisation of them. Like Smithyman, Mrkusich has been accused of being deliberately arcane or oblique. Both have been involved in a struggle to ﬁnd or construct new kinds of sense, to evolve a language alert to the nuances and buried meanings of life in this country this century.
9 a short history / epistemology / cosmology
Papahurihia had taught that the missionaries would be burned in the ﬁre of Satan, and his followers would enter an afterlife in a land of happiness. The Catholic missionary Louis Catherin Servant said that this would be a land in which there was neither cold, nor hunger or thirst: ‘you enjoy unending light. Everything is found in plenty, ﬂour, sugar, guns, ships; there too murder and sensual pleasure reign’. The afterlife became a world of earthly delights, much better than the Protestant heaven, which Papahurihia had described as little better than hell, because its inhabitants had ‘nothing but books to eat’.
(Judith Binney, from The Dictionary of New Zealand Biography)
Imagine the entire contents of the Oxford dictionary, not to mention the King James Bible, tipped onto a Northland beach early in the nineteenth century and, from there, swiftly covering the province with a new layer of meanings and signiﬁcances, disrupting, mutating and merging with the systems of belief and sign that already covered the landscape.
And what else does the language do when it arrives here? It immediately starts recording—in journals, sermons, letters, legal documents and newspapers. Atua Wera is a re-enactment—from both Maori and Pakeha perspectives—of this spread of written and spoken language, with its attendant matrix of knowledge and belief. The poem’s widely-ﬂung verbal net captures details from daily life, material and verbal exchanges, military campaigns and violent altercations as well as moments of prayer, prophecy and judgement.
Besides the structures of belief and knowledge, the materials and objects of daily life at that time were also changing. Now there were books, documents and the ‘ﬂour, sugar, guns, ships’ the Catholic missionary observed. As was the case with the Cargo Cults of Melanesia, these objects became the new talismans. They complicated and changed the existing cosmology. The written (or painted) word attained considerable status, particularly in its capacity to record names and genealogies. Words were soon appearing on the hallowed walls of meeting houses and the ability to read and write were, it follows, greatly valued.
Smithyman’s voluminous book contains much evidence of this spread of language. This is recounted through the voice of the geographer, the Old Testament preacher, the historian, the believer, the sceptic and, importantly, the poet in the late twentieth century. The poem is attuned to the movements in belief and knowledge—the ‘shifting shapes’—and also the confusion that arose in a region that for a time juggled such varying and often conﬂicting belief systems. Atua Wera witnesses the already complex Maori culture becoming even more complex.
In imposing a purely poetic order on its materials, the poem skirts around the structures and demands of ‘historical’ writing, to include within its fabric all the inconclusiveness, fanaticism, half-ﬁnished arguments, enigmas and contradictions of history. Smithyman recovers many telling fragments:
‘As it was, matters were well managed,
several were slightly wounded, and all were
arrested, but none were killed
and, after all, a little blood letting and hard labour
does a Maori no harm.’
Colonel Gudgeon, 1905
Besides such ‘ﬁrst-hand’ accounts, there are fragments of children’s songs, inventories of place-names and trees, roll calls of ancestors, and oracular utterances. Out of these disparate forms and their various voices, the poem’s truth emerges:
“He wanted to settle things—you know,
like having things peaceful.
He and Aperahama went down south to talk
to Te Kooti. They took him an important gift.”
What the gift was is not known/remembered.
Only, it was precious, prestigious.
This is fact. Fact credits believing.
Believing authenticates fact.
In an age intent on examining the past to understand the present, Atua Wera establishes in both its form and content the impenetrability and sheer mystery of much human history. While New Zealand’s past contains much injustice and exploitation, the country was also shaped by accidents, superstition, erratic behaviour and both good and bad luck. In acknowledging these variables, and by delving into the mythical and fantastic as well as the ‘real’, Atua Wera could well be described as a ‘magic realist’ epic.
10 the trip down the Northern Wairoa continued
It was near the end of the Pouto Peninsula that one of the propellers of the speedboat on which I was travelling hit something. Fortunately, we had slowed considerably at the time. The driver later told me it was probably a sheep carcass, ﬂoating invisibly just beneath the surface of the river.
My assignment as a journalist was to write about how it felt to travel at nearly one hundred miles per hour up and down the brown river. Instead I found myself writing about the slow, choppy journey back up the Northern Wairoa, nursing one busted motor.
11 a great bag of them
Back at Te Kopuru, some movement in the town can now be discerned. A truck drives up the middle of one road, stopping adjacent to each letterbox; someone is polishing something; a bicycle skids across a lawn ... Twenty minutes later we reach the southern end of Dargaville with its two steaming takeaway bars and ancient dairy factory. Waves lap against the rusted car bodies that form a breakwater on the river’s edge. Somewhere a game of netball is in progress; a policeman delivers a bootful of conﬁscated toheroa to the town hospital where the best seafood chowder in the world is served (but only to patients). Out of the very corner of my eye, a Maori man has driven a mile or two out of his way to deposit a hitch-hiker at his doorstep, then he offers him a sack of unusual shaped kumara from the back of his utility.
The driver says that these most beautiful tasting vegetables, on account of their unconventional form, are unsaleable. The young man, a journalist, is speechless with gratitude.
‘They are yours,’ the Maori man says, lumping a great bag of them onto the porch.
12 root crop
The huge sack of kumara the farmer from Ruawai gave me stands or, more correctly, leans against the wall in the kitchen where, particularly in the evenings, it has the presence of a human being. Often in the late afternoons the entire house smells of the most excellent Ruawai soil. When I ﬁnally leave Dargaville, the sack of misshapen vegetables is still a quarter full.
That sack of kumara is a useful metaphor for Smithyman’s poetry: a collection of unorthodox, dark, elusive shapes that probably won’t ever be swallowed up or embraced by the marketplace. Yet these unorthodox, irregular poetic forms and constructions are, as Atua Wera attests, extremely well attuned to the oblique, enigmatic forms of human history.
In Smithyman’s poetry, luminous details are extracted from the general darkness, but even in the broad light of day these details remain mysterious and elusive. As does the poet himself. Smithyman, like the central protagonist of Atua Wera, Papahurihia, is ‘a shifting shape in a fog./ He was, is, metaphor. And mystery.’
In Atua Wera, the poet offers us a dark, mysterious bag of kumara, an anthology of personages and events dug from difﬁcult ground. These shapes and sounds are a gift, then. As the Maori farmer said to the young writer, ‘they are yours.’
13 a notable Australian surrealist
A few years after my Dargaville adventure I was living in Sydney and acquainting myself with the journal Angry Penguins, which was published out of Melbourne during and after World War Two. The magazine seemed to be the only convincing manifestation of Surrealism in the antipodes I had come across, apart from the work of Len Lye. (Angry Penguins became famous in 1944 for publishing the ‘Ern Malley’ poems, which precipitated a major international literary scandal.) It was in a 1945 issue of Angry Penguins that I came across three poems by Kendrick Smithyman. What struck me reading these poems was that the voice which had eluded me a few years earlier now made at least some sense in the context of Angry Penguins. Lines of Smithyman’s like, ‘And the singular gull climbed / across channels drifting to lost islands ...’ sat comfortably in the context of a journal that had published the Ern Malley poems with their memorably over-the-top imagery: ‘... I am still
/ The black swan of trespass on alien waters’ and ‘the swung torch scatters seeds
/ In the umbelliferous dark’.
Smithyman, as far as I was concerned, had become rather quickly a Notable Australian Surrealist—which made me think about the radical, highly-strung metropolitan reality of the Australian literary avant-garde and the dour isolation of the west coast of Northland. It was out of these two diametrically opposed realities I began to discern in Smithyman a surprisingly potent mixture of internationalist and intensely regionalist concerns and sensibilities. His Northland experience was, I suspect, a deﬁning one for him and one that, funnily enough, found a context out there in the broad world beyond New Zealand.
14 a true story
The only lecture by Kendrick Smithyman I ever attended concerned the novels of Aldous Huxley. On that occasion, he told us a true story—although I am not sure the story I remember from that day is in fact the story he told us:
It was back in the early 1950s, Smithyman was travelling around the south of France with Aldous Huxley and one of the novelist’s wives. They were towing a caravan severely laden down with books which they intended reading during the trip .
The only other image that remains from the story is of the young Smithyman lying on a rug in front of the parked caravan, books scattered all around him like chickens surrounding a bucket of grain. The weather is impeccable and Aldous Huxley is popping in and out of the caravan on some business or other. I remember the caravan in the story as being orange with a wide green stripe, which probably wasn’t the colouring at all. Someone once told me I had a great memory for colours. Except that I remembered the wrong colours. Hence, for the record, doubt must be cast upon the entire story.
15 point of contact
The point at which the propeller of the million dollar speedboat hits the sheep carcass is the point which ignites the Smithyman poem—where the imported, sophisticated apparatus of western culture stirs up the gravy brown waters of the local, bumps into the particular.
The great works of art created in New Zealand this century embody to some extent this collision between the imported and the indigenous. (Often the regional element seems to have the last word and, as the speedboat of international modernism limps back to the boatramp, the river ﬂows, eddies and swirls onwards, exactly as usual.)
16 content of a river
If the apparent murkiness and impenetrability of Smithyman’s diction, ideas and allusions have built barriers between some readers and the meanings or experiences at the core of the poetry, I suspect the poet would counter by asserting that all experience is mediated—by language, history and memory. To look for simple answers in the poetry is as unrealistic as looking for them in past and present experience.
Like the Northern Wairoa River, the writing is necessarily murky and weighted down with details from the poet’s life and the uncoverings of his inspired and far-ranging researches. (Importantly, Smithyman’s oeuvre asserts that literature, music and history are as intrinsic to life as the supposedly less constructed experiences of the individual—they are not simply intermediaries or secondary sources.)
In Atua Wera the words are ruminative and at times even prayerful, respectful of the past and of that immense wealth that is cultural inheritance. In this, his last poem, Smithyman sifts through the stuff of history both intellectually and emotionally, creating a very individual map which, as well as locating some remarkable characters, also outlines the concerns that dominated his career as a poet: the primacy of language in all human thought and endeavour, the signiﬁcance of geography, culture and knowledge, and the possibility of (and struggle towards) a state of equilibrium in human affairs.
At the book’s conclusion, the last line of the 296th poem, what we are left with isn’t so much silence as a sense that the voices of the preceding pages will continue talking. The arguments, oracular utterances, the tender and difﬁcult voices will continue to play on this Northland landscape, this expanse of New Zealand literature, for all time.
17 the opposite of television
It would be hard to imagine anything more at odds with the mass-market entertainment business than Kendrick Smithyman’s poetry. Like the English critic Herbert Read, Smithyman must have abhorred the ‘collectivist, cybernetic’ mass culture which, to this day, seems intent on reducing artists to entertainers and art itself to simple-minded escapism. Read could see the position of the artist at risk as far back as the 1960s, when he wrote:
It is not a cheerful prospect for the arts, though there will be more and more artists in the sense of the word used by the entertainment industry. It will be a gay world. There will be lights everywhere except in the mind of man and the fall of the last civilization will not be heard above the incessant din.
When Auto/Biographies, Smithyman’s penultimate book, was shortlisted for the New Zealand Book Awards in 1993, I was working on a television ‘arts’ programme entitled The Edge. The day the collection arrived in the ofﬁce, a member of the production team happened to ask me which New Zealand writers might make good, accessible fodder for our television audience. She picked up Smithyman’s book and asked me what it was like.
The only reply I could think of was: the opposite of television.
18 a world or two
Between the disparate poles of mid-century, bohemian Melbourne, with its Angry Penguins, and the Northern Wairoa district with its ﬂoating sheep carcasses, I locate the ﬁgure of Kendrick Smithyman. The experience we are offered in Atua Wera—and in much of Smithyman’s output elsewhere—is that of losing oneself amidst the co-ordinates of an exceptionally broad map and of being immersed in a complex choreography involving numerous characters moving into and out of a land- or city-scape. As Peter Simpson has observed: ‘Through his exploration of place and locality in particular, Smithyman has become a kind of archaeologist of consciousness at local, national and global levels.’ What we are given is a poetry with the breadth and generosity to embrace a number of times, a number of places, a number of worlds.
While Smithyman’s poems are certainly capable of transcending the intense privacy in which they were fashioned, that privacy is something the writing never completely leaves behind. For all their richly experienced and evoked references to the natural world, they remain very much the property of the mind and ear of the poet. Accordingly, they offer much insight into Smithyman’s personality. One section of Atua Wera could conveniently be read as a self-portrait of the poet:
Manoao is pakeha Barrier pine.
You don’t see it except
north of Auckland.
Most pakeha wouldn’t know
if they saw it,
not a common tree.
Kin are well known,
rimu much talked about.
got to be one, different,
a bit of a loner.
Even in company.
In both their vividness and obliqueness, the poems detail the inner life of an individual thinking and feeling his way through life, right up until the time of his death:
Darkness along crests of the ranges
not end of day darkening, a something which spread up
out of the sea all over early afternoon.
Lightnings played from ridge to ridge,
then thunder, more thunder.
Everyone knew, somebody important was going to die.
19 the business
Isn’t this the purpose of real poetry: to perplex and bother whatever individual consciousness it encounters out there in the cybernetic, collectivist mass? To revive old, unresolved discussions and arguments? To present personal and social histories in their inﬁnite complexity and inconclusiveness? To celebrate how the mind and the world work? By whatever means, and no matter how circumspectly, to lift the reader/listener out of the present moment and dislodge or at least challenge their presuppositions? Smithyman made no concessions when it came to the business of being a poet: these were the questions he asked, and then he would take to task the questions themselves and his own capacity to ask them.
20 Kendrick returns to the northern beaches
After all the geographical and cultural globetrotting of the earlier poetry, Atua Wera represents a homecoming of sorts, a slow return. It is also a resting place, where the persona of the poet allows itself to fade into the general detail, where his characteristic voice blends with all the voices the poem and its sources have to offer. Smithyman explores the beliefs and actions of Papahurihia with the same attentiveness and exhaustiveness he usually devoted to his own. It’s not hard to sense a feeling of kinship between the two polymaths: Smithyman’s and Papahurihia’s inﬂuences and purposes are about as wide-ranging and mysterious as each other. They are both interpreters of dreams and perceptions. Both are profoundly attached to the Far North. As is the case with the Maori prophet, the meaning of Smithyman’s life’s work is bound to both reward and perturb people for many years to come.
21 back to the river
While the murky waters of the Northern Wairoa might reﬂect both the opaque surface and the depths of Kendrick Smithyman’s poetry—the slow-moving, ponderous bulk of it as well as the wealth contained there—at the same time, and perhaps even because of this murkiness, when the time of day is right, these waters are capable of reﬂecting the most majestic scene. As if the muddy river has become one with the indescribably beautiful sky.
1 Coincidentally, The Geography of Lograire and Atua Wera were both the last literary excursions of their respective authors, and both were published posthumously.
2 Like Allen Curnow in his Hokianga-based sequence, ‘An Abominable Temper’, Smithyman is able to introduce a 20th-century sensibility into a poem that is immersed in the 19th century without disrupting its fabric of thoughts and words.
3 Another Northlander with similar objectives, Ralph Hotere (born at Mitimiti, 1931), might well enter the conversation at this point, as could photographer Peter Peryer (born 1941), who spent his childhood in the Far North, living for a time at Ohaeawai, the site of a major defeat for the British army during the Northland War and a location cited in Smithyman’s long poem.
4 See Roger Neich’s Painted Histories: Early Maori Figurative Painting (Auckland University Press, 1993). Jonathan Mane-Wheoki pointed out in a talk at the City Gallery, Wellington (1997) that levels of literacy amongst Maori in the nineteenth century may well have been higher than those among the settler population.
5 The same issue also included poems by Louis Johnson and short stories by Frank Sargeson and Greville Texidor.