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Potiki (1986)

by Patricia Grace

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
236681,515 (3.65)83
Patricia Grace's classic novel is a work of spellbinding power in which the myths of older times are inextricably woven into the political realities of today. In a small coastal community threatened by developers who would ravage their lands it is a time of fear and confusion - and growing anger. The prophet child Tokowaru-i-te-Marama shares his people's struggles against bulldozers and fast money talk. When dramatic events menace the marae, his grief threatens to burst beyond the confines of his twisted body. His all-seeing eye looks forward to a strange and terrible new dawn. Potiki won the New Zealand Book Awards in 1987.… (more)



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English (4)  Spanish (1)  French (1)  All languages (6)
Showing 4 of 4
Potiki is not only the story of one family, but it looks at the issue of Maori land ownership in the modern world. It is narrated through the eyes of individual family members and the reader gradually gains an appreciation and new perspective on the rural Maori lifestyle, their desire to live a simple life on the land conserving their natural resources. The book is divided into three parts. In the first section we look at the family, their land and the history. In the second the modern day dilemmas of what price progress and is it, in fact, progress, are presented and confronted. The third section brings resolution and conclusion with hope for the furure.
Hemi and Roimata and their children and extended family have worked hard to make a living from the land and sea but in tough times were forced to sell off portions. When a property development company approaches them to buy the rest of their land or at least access through their remaining property to create a tourist complex, their quiet lifestyle is threatened.
Patricia Grace weaves mythology throughout the tale and engenders a respect for the past and hope for the future. I think this is a very important piece of New Zealnd writing that deserves a wide audience.
One thing I feel is lacking is a glossary with the translation of the many Maori words to enhance the readers appreciation and knowledge. ( )
1 vote HelenBaker | Jul 16, 2012 |
See the very positive review on my blog http://awayofwriting.blogspot.com/2011/12/real-thing.html ( )
  michalsuz | Nov 30, 2011 |
Reading the large print version of this book, along with the childlike, repetitive prose style put me off this book initially. But I am glad I finished it. It's interesting to think this book was written 25 years ago now = at times the themes seem a bit obvious - the dichotomy of good and evil too obvious - but 25 years ago this was a really important, and until then, untold story. And, on second thoughts, that's probably still the case now; the story needs to be told even if it seems old to those who have already heard it. ( )
1 vote stevedore | Jan 23, 2011 |
This novel tells us of Hemi and Roimata and their children, members of a coastal Māori village in New Zealand. Though the book is filled with many tales, it forms a single story in three parts: introducing us to the family; showing their return toward traditional life following hardships, economic and otherwise, in the white world; finally telling of the conflict between this community and the developers, "Dollarmen", who wanted their land in order to build a resort.

For me, the value of this book lay in the fact that the surface story—the conflict between the indigenous people and those who would exploit them—didn't really form the theme of the book. Recounting that type of conflict has been done before, and often. Instead, I realized that this story was about connectedness in all its forms, about a world view that I found distinctly different and fascinating. Using the traditional carvings of ancestors that decorate the communal assembly hall as a thread that weaves through from the first pages to the last, Ms. Grace touched upon the villagers' feelings of connectedness with their ancestors; with their past history, both good and bad; with each other; with chance strangers who graced them with a visit; and with their land and dwellings.

The result was an interesting shift in perspective. Though the author's voice was politically clear in her beliefs, the result wasn't so much a negative definition, a rejection of the West, rather it was a positive affirmation of themselves—"we are what we have always been" rather than "we are not like you."

It was beautifully done. When the book was over, I felt I had obtained a real glimpse into another culture, and a little of the calm of the story had rubbed off. ( )
16 vote TadAD | Jul 8, 2009 |
Showing 4 of 4
added by michalsuz | editWriting anyway (Nov 30, 2011)

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