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Potiki

3.65  ·  Rating Details ·  671 Ratings  ·  53 Reviews
A Maori community on the coast of New Zealand is threatened by a land developer who wants to purchase the community property, move the community meeting hall, and construct many new buildings, including an "underwater zoo." The story is told in several chapters that switch narrators. Sometimes, it is Hemi, a man who was laid off from his job and realizes that this ...more
Paperback, Talanoa : Contemporary Pacific Literature, 192 pages
Published June 1st 1995 by Univ of Hawaii Pr (first published October 7th 1986)
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Jenny (Reading Envy)
Nov 28, 2015 Jenny (Reading Envy) rated it really liked it
Recommended to Jenny (Reading Envy) by: Zanna
I read this book as part of my self-proclaimed New Zealand November in 2015. While I've read several books with feet heavily in Maori culture, this had the feeling of being most recent. It illuminates the struggles native New Zealanders have had in holding on to their land through the eyes of one community, particularly three members of a family.
"The developers were angry at our constant refusals but that was because they did not understand that our choice was between poverty and self-destructi
...more
Lisa
Sep 09, 2014 Lisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Potiki is such an interesting book, it would make a great choice for book groups.

It is the story of a Maori community’s struggle to regain control of their ancestral lands. Having had their land acquired to build an airfield during WWI, these landholders were dispersed into rental accommodation so that it became almost impossible to sustain their culture and traditions. But as is so often the case in land rights matters, a dispirited and apparently ‘broken’ people were rejuvenated by a charismat
...more
Katie
Beautifully written - a novel whose heartache and hope stay with me long after I've closed the pages.
Mariana
Dec 24, 2009 Mariana rated it it was amazing
Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa

This is a magical book. Toko-i-te-Marama has the gift of knowing and story telling. May he rule my heart.
Damon
Feb 15, 2016 Damon rated it liked it
In this New Zealand story, colonialism is not dead, but has evolved and is championed by land developers.
Nathaniel
Jan 29, 2013 Nathaniel rated it liked it
Speaking as a white American, I had a lot of difficulty following this book. In true Pacific Islander fashion, the author uses a lot of native terminology with the obvious attitude that "you either know it or you don't, and if you don't, you're not one of us, so we're not going to explain it". Grace also tells the story entirely from POV characters using their own language, so it's not always entirely clear what is happening - especially on the last 20 pages or so. For these reasons, I probably ...more
Emma
Mar 04, 2012 Emma rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nz-literature
This is a book I've been meaning to read since it was an assigned reading for some of my friends in other English classes in high school. Once I started reading, I realised I had read the beginning before, though I don't remember when.

It is written beautifully, with poetry woven intricately throughout. It makes great use of New Zealand as a character, and the symbols, traditions and natural surroundings that can be found in our small country. Many people feel, and sometimes I am among them, tha
...more
Roya Eve
May 30, 2016 Roya Eve rated it liked it
This is another book I have to read for uni. It was well-developed and gave me a better understanding of Maori culture. The story is an important one. But I didn't like how it was divided into three parts and I didn't like how it was told from so many points of view as it made me feel disconnected from the characters (although maybe that's how I was supposed to feel? An outsider?) I'm looking forward to analysing it more closely later as I'm sure that will change my mind.
Jade Adams
Nov 04, 2014 Jade Adams rated it really liked it
Surprisingly accessible, easy to read, and emotionally compelling despite the constantly shifting narrative style. The book tells the story of a community, not isolated, but connected to the earth and growing to include others who hope to protect traditions, cultures, and the environment. The simple and honest prose style draws you in quickly.
Lucy
Jan 29, 2012 Lucy rated it liked it
Shelves: 2006
i'm not sure how to describe this one for some reason, even though it should be simple enough. it's about a maori clan, mainly their struggles to hold onto their land and keep their traditions going, focussing particularly on one nuclear family. reading it was like listening to a storyteller, which i'm sure was intentional, since storytelling is an important part of the story. i liked it a lot.
Zeapeao
Feb 03, 2015 Zeapeao rated it it was amazing
Amazing. I wish I had read this years ago- but more like, I wish I'd been ready to read this years ago. Intense and so deep, so powerful yet so real, and you just fall right into the story.
Heartbreaking but a beautiful story of whanaungatanga and survival
Ashley
Sep 03, 2012 Ashley rated it really liked it
Opens with a lyrical passage that inspired me to write. Distinctive voice and masterful plot weaving. Dialogue rings true-to-life, giving insight into relationships and the difficult--and beautiful--realities of Maori heritage.
David Kealii
Mar 09, 2009 David Kealii rated it really liked it
One of the best books about Polynesian struggles for community, culture and land.
Scott
Dec 09, 2016 Scott rated it liked it
Employing Māori themes and language with the you either know it or don't attitude is quite bold, and it's not out of place here. Māori are after all New Zealanders and part of New Zealand culture and history, with te reo Māori also having become an official language of New Zealand one year after Pōtiki's publication. A glossary would've been welcomed by many though, I'm sure, especially for the international reader. When Patricia Grace even highlights in the story a communication breakdown from ...more
Katie
Feb 20, 2010 Katie rated it liked it
A very interesting novel, but one that never quite came together for me.

The book is loosely structured, with different chapters told from the perspectives of different characters, and lots of switching between first and third person. The main plot concerns a conflict over land use between a Maori tribe and a group of developers who want to build a resort, but this plot actually takes up relatively little space in the book; Grace spends a lot of time on the backstories of her characters, and the
...more
Alex Lee
Nov 23, 2015 Alex Lee rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015, fiction
Here we get a story about a Maori's family struggle to maintain a traditional life style in the face of real estate developer's greed. The sense of subject is obscured by what Deleuze calls "fourth person singular", indirect voices speaking for many persons as a kind of community awareness and coming together. There is no final resolution, only a continual struggle in which a development of a house (given a suspicious fire) is rebuilt and a sense of traditional continuity is maintained. Here, ...more
Michelle Boyer
"Kids were different these days. They wanted knowledge of their own things, their own things first. They were proud and didn't hide their culture, and no one could bullshit them either" (p65).

A wonderful example of Maori storytelling. The story follows several different individuals, all connected via place and identity, as they struggle to fight against investment builders that would like to strip away sections of Maori homelands in order to build shopping malls and resorts.

There are many upl
...more
Clare
Sep 10, 2016 Clare rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
This book takes a look at traditional culture butting heads with commercial ventures. The native people want to maintain the way of life (albeit with a few modern amenities) they have known for centuries, closely tied into the respect of nature. When some developers offer a fantastic amount of money for their land they still refuse to budge. The dollarmen, as the natives call them, resort to nasty schemes to get their way, the original people of the land take matters into their own hands when ...more
itpdx
Jan 17, 2016 itpdx rated it liked it
I will be visiting New Zealand soon and picked this book as one recommended by several sources as a good reading to understand the country. It is a story set in a Maori village that faces a developer that wants to develop the hills behind their village. This village has been working to be self sustaining and has maintained some of their culture. They have a common hall and a spiritual building.
It is a challenging book to read because many Maori words are used without definition and it was not a
...more
Stephen
Sep 11, 2011 Stephen rated it liked it
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 ...more
Arshin
May 08, 2011 Arshin rated it it was ok
I'm being forced to read this for school (Year 13). At first, I hated it. I disliked all the Maori words confusing me, all the Maori references I knew nothing about (I'm new to NZ) and it was just one huge complex mess. I still don't really like it, but now that we're discussing it in class, I see the depth and the meaning behind everything, and the parallels with Maori myths, and it isn't that bad.
I still gotta finish it though. I've been reading every other book in the world instead of this on
...more
Beckie
Dec 22, 2013 Beckie rated it liked it
Shelves: 2006
i'm not sure how to describe this one for some reason, even though it should be simple enough. it's about a maori clan, mainly their struggles to hold onto their land and keep their traditions going, focussing particularly on one nuclear family. reading it was like listening to a storyteller, which i'm sure was intentional, since storytelling is an important part of the story. i liked it a lot.
Thomas
Feb 21, 2016 Thomas rated it liked it
A post colonial studies book that might go under without the benefit of intense studies. Not an easy read, it does provide a fascinating and, with a little effort, accessible entry point to the storytelling structures and traditions of a completely different culture. A very good literary translation of oral tradition. 6
Eliora
Aug 06, 2013 Eliora rated it liked it
A good look into the lives of those native to New Zealand, and the clash when Europeans attempts to infiltrate and absorb. The tone is reminiscent of "The Pearl". However, at times it becomes difficult to read without having to pause and stare at a blank wall for a while before continuing; not in contemplation, but rather as a breather.
Jakey Gee
Dec 24, 2014 Jakey Gee rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014
Excellent. As has been endlessly said, a superb balance of Maori cosmology, here-and-then social injustice and some fine, lyrical writing. Knocks the socks off the deeply flawed (but still pretty loveable and loopy) Keri Hulme.

The Capuchin edition has an intro by Kirsty Gunn (another Kiwi heavy hitter), who's right to have been pleased it finally made its way to a UK publisher.
Tim Prasil
Oct 15, 2012 Tim Prasil rated it really liked it
Patricia Grace's novel about the Māori, the folks who lived in New Zealand before the Europeans arrived. Neat novel about the efforts to turn sacred lands into a tourist attraction. Grace doesn't complicate the matter: it's a bad thing to do. But the characters are well-drawn, unexpected, and engaging.
Jacob
Feb 09, 2014 Jacob rated it liked it
Patricia Grace is a beautiful writer, and can through reading her words i can paint a picture and the image in my head. There were times that I became lost since my knowledge of Maori vocabulary and customs are minimal.
Aimee Lowe
Oct 11, 2014 Aimee Lowe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reads like you've sat down with a family and they're telling you their story, which makes this feel kind of special.
Most of the Maori language used throughout the book will be familiar with New Zealanders but otherwise maybe look for a copy with a glossary.
Bronwyn
May 17, 2013 Bronwyn rated it it was amazing
I'm a huge fan of Patricia Grace, and have read this one more than once.
Because her books are so rooted in New Zealand, other readers might miss the intent of some cultural references but they'll be rewarded so richly by reading her. An exquisite writer not be missed!
Rachael C
Nov 23, 2013 Rachael C rated it really liked it
This was a very sad book, and also a confusing one, although I liked the ideas behind it. It brought me a perspective that I had never really acknowledged or known about before, provided a firsthand account of the conquering of a people.
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Patricia Grace is a major New Zealand novelist, short story writer and children’s writer, of Ngati Toa, Ngati Raukawa and Te Ati Awa descent, and is affiliated to Ngati Porou by marriage. Grace began writing early, while teaching and raising her family of seven children, and has since won many national and international awards, including the Kiriyama Pacific Rim Book Prize for fiction, the Deutz ...more
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