Potiki by Patricia Grace

Potiki By Patricia Grace

New Zealand fiction

I had hope to get to this over weekend but I m a day late for the lovely Lisa of Anzlitloves Indigenous week .I choose a book from the Well known New Zealand writer Patricia Grace .She is probably the best known Maori writer ,she has written novels ,short stories and children’s books .She has published seven novels ,this Potiki is the best known and won the New Zealand fiction prize .

Well Potiki what is it about .Well in some ways it may be called a classic indigenous novel as it talks the clash of indigenous Maori’s in a small coastal community as the face the fact they might have to move from the tribal home to a new settlement .So we enter the village and I love the way Patricia took use through the villagers as  the families as they wrestle with the idea of moving .The Tamihanas have lived there for years and are tied to the land The parents children a disable relative and the kids all tell the story ,as each chapter is a different point of view as the story of the family struggles to keep the place they call home from the hands of the developer .The are talked to by a man the call dollarman a mr Dolman who struggles to grasp why they want to stay .He wants to turn this place into a soulless place for fun ,where as the Tamihana’s want to keep it alive with the souls from the past years .

There is something else to do with my five-year old story and the story of my big fish .It is to do with passionfruit vine  .”vine ” and “brine ” were both new words to me then .and these words quickly recall that for me whenever I hear them .

My mother Roimata had taken a passion fruit cutting from Granny Tamihana’s vine .At the time when I caught my first big fish the cutting was dry and without life ,that’s what I’ve been told .

Toko talks about his family and you see the traditions .

This book is the classic in the “past versus the future” argument  modern society against ancient traditions .The book does descend into fighting at the end .As the two sides dig their trenches .I’d had this book on my shelves for a few years after buying it to be a book from New Zealand for the challenge that first started  Winston dads journey it then sat on my shelves. So many thanks Lisa for making me read it. The book has a clever structure to it , like the traditional feel of  story telling with each of the chapters in a way is  like being round a fire and each member of this Maori community adding their bit to the story . I did struggle with the frequent use of Maori words but check them on-line when I felt I need to but ,this also added to the book it is a Maori story at the end of the day and there words add to the prose .It’s nice to see a writer keeping he traditional language alive in such a way .

They do not clearly hear the footfalls ,some of them their own .They cannot see the shadowless forms ,forms of which they themselves may be shadows ,taking up and shouldering the sun-bleached wood

From the last page

So if you want a book that gives you a small insight into the Maori world I think this may be a good start .I seen films like when we were warriors and whale rider and this book has given me a wish to seek so more out .I can finally cross New Zealand of the list .

Have you read this book ?

June 2023


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