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Auckland University Press

The Treaty of Waitangi – in Māori, te Tiriti o Waitangi – has in New Zealand, during the past forty years, acquired a degree of significance in relations between the state and iwi and hapū (tribal groups). A permanent commission of inquiry, the Waitangi Tribunal, is empowered to report on claims by Māori that acts or omissions of the state have been or are contrary to the principles of the Treaty and have had prejudicial consequences.

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To begin at the beginning. ‘When the first Pakeha ship came,’ Te Horeta told the explorer Charles Heaphy, ‘I was a lad … [about twelve years old].’ Watching the ‘white people’ row ashore, ‘paddling with their backs to the way they were going’, the boy and his companions ‘thought they must have eyes behind their heads’. ... (read more)

Colin McCahon was a prominent late-modernist New Zealand painter who temporarily disappeared while visiting the Sydney Botanic Gardens on 11 and 12 April 1984. As Martin Edmond relates, ‘Colin went off to the toilet but didn’t return’, and subsequently ‘spent 28 hours lost on the streets of Sydney’. When discovered, ‘he could not say who he was, carried no identification and seemed disoriented’. This largely speechless disorientation persisted until McCahon’s death.

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C.K. Stead’s new collection of non-fictional prose confirms his reputation as New Zealand’s grand old man of letters, still swimming, aged seventy-six, against the tide. The author of fourteen books of poetry, as many novels, and several critical works which followed from his highly influential The New Poetic in 1964, Stead continues to be under-read and under-appreciated outside his own country, despite his outward-looking vision, the cross-national themes of his writing and the translation of his work into several European languages. The parochialism of ‘mainstream’ literary critical culture is nicely illustrated by an approving British review of his novel My Name Was Judas (2006), which Stead quotes in one of the journal entries included in this anthology. The reviewer ‘praises’ Stead as ‘an elderly and obscure New Zealand author who ... must surely be a prime candidate for the Nobel Prize’. Well might the Nobel bridesmaid remark, ‘How’s that for even-handed!’.

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Girolamo Nerli, Michael Dunn writes in Nerli: An Italian Painter in the South Pacific, was ‘an uneven painter who ranged from the good to the downright bad’. It says much about the difficult development of the visual arts in Australia and New Zealand that someone with such apparently modest abilities should be worthy of such a lavishly illustrated and comprehensive study – especially in these days of constraint in art-historical publishing. Nerli has generally been depicted as a flamboyant Continental whose European heritage and thick Italian accent imbued him with an authority that made local artists and philistines alike listen receptively to his views. As a foreigner, he was permitted to be ‘irreverent, avant-garde and daring’, in ways denied local artists. Nerli’s place in Australian art history is assured by his association with the Heidelberg School artists, while his brief but influential role as Frances Hodgkin’s teacher secures his place in New Zealand’s art history. In this, the first published extended study of Nerli’s time in Australia and New Zealand (including a foray to Samoa), Dunn seeks a ‘fresh appraisal of the man and his achievements’.

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The Cruise of the Janet Nichol among the South Sea Islands edited by Roslyn Jolly & Robert Louis Stevenson edited by Roger Robinson

April 2004, no. 260

Whether it’s fate or mere coincidence, the life stories of the two most celebrated writers of the Pacific – Robert Louis Stevenson and Albert Wendt – dovetail together on the small tropical island of Upolu in Western Samoa. In 1889, when Stevenson concluded his third Pacific cruise on the Janet Nichol, he told his readers in Europe and America that: ‘Few men who come to the islands leave them; they grow grey where they alighted; the palm trees and trade-wind fan them till they die.’ In hindsight, this reads as a premonition, but, after years of ill-health Stevenson was seduced and invigorated by sweet air and unexpected interests, describing his time during the Pacific voyages as ‘passing like days in fairyland’.

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