Librarian's Choice: Navigating the Stars
Author: Witi Ihimaera
This beautifully rendered, oral history retelling, weaves together the history of New Zealand, as known in Maaori traditional narratives. Witi Ihimaera, a well-known writer of fiction, branches out into non-fiction with a gorgeous and well researched presentation of New Zealand oral history. He explores the rich oral traditions of Maaori storytelling, by placing them into historical context with each other and with the places in Aotearoa they represent. His writing style, at once entertaining and engaging, is also intricately researched and the author grounds each story in historic facts, linking areas of special Maaori significance with relevant and researched historical evidence. An excellent book, encompassing vital elements of Maaori oral tradition in context by using the engaging storytelling that Witi has become famous for.
Future readers will enjoy the narrative and engaging style with which Witi Ihimaera retells and explains the wealth of Maaori traditional narratives. Famous and lesser-known Maaori figures alike come to life and dance to the beat of the forces of nature that shape New Zealand’s volcanic islands. Readers who enjoy learning about culture and history as told through myth and legend will warm to the affable style with which this author retells their epic conquests. The book is informative in tone, but also relaxed, often relating well-known stories with humour and zest. On the other hand, those readers needing to conduct research into anthropomorphic identity and Maaori history, especially oral traditions and the importance of them in Maaori culture, will find a reliable source of information, with some excellent sources to refer to listed at the end. The book also has a very useful set of coloured pictures, photographs and diagrams which feature throughout and a comprehensive index of Maaori mythological characters’ names in the back. A must for any reader engaged in Maaori Studies, especially oral histories.