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Come On Shore and We Will Kill and Eat You All: A New Zealand Story

3.54  ·  Rating Details  ·  490 Ratings  ·  140 Reviews
An extraordinary love story between a Maori man and an American woman, that inspires a graceful, revelatory search for understanding about the centuries-old collision of two wildly different cultures.

Come on Shore and We Will Kill and Eat You All is the story of the cultural collision between Westerners and the Maoris of New Zealand, told partly as a history of the complex
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published July 22nd 2008 by Bloomsbury USA (first published 2008)
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This is a book that doesn't seem to know what it wants to be. Christina Thompson has a PhD in Pacific Literature and the book definitely has a literary style, but the topic is more historical/anthropological. Certainly it's part memoir also, but I think the majority of page space is taken up by her history of the Maori people. Then at the end she throws in a history of her own white American relatives and the white settlers' obliteration of the Native American tribes. I understand we're meant to ...more
Jan 08, 2010 Michelle rated it really liked it
The fact that it took me forever to read this book should in no way be regarded as criticism of it. Life got away from me for a while. It's an excellent book.

The blurb explaining how it's a memoir of a cross cultural marriage can not even begin to contain all that's in this book. The author is an American woman with a PhD married to a working class Maori New Zealander. While it does explore what it means to have a marriage between people of such divergent backgrounds it's so much more than that
Nov 06, 2014 Bruce rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Christina Thompson teaches writing at Harvard and is the editor of the Harvard Review. Her book Come On Shore… is a work that explores aspects of New Zealand and the indigenous Maori people, and it defies being categorized within one particular genre. Married to a Maori man, Thompson uses their relationship as a lens through which to view her topic.

In part the book is history. Not detailed history by any means, but Thompson does review in broad outlines the interactions between the Maori and Eur
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I read this as part of my New Zealand November 2015 project, only, um, I read it in December. I hadn't gotten to it in November and after trying the first 50 pages decided it was worthwhile to go ahead and finish it.

This is part memoir, part history. The author writes of her graduate school years when she took a break from her dissertation writing and graduate school in Australia and visited New Zealand for the first time. While at a bar she met her future husband, a Maori man who happened to be
This book resonated with me on so many levels: I come from a mixed racial & cultural background; grew up in a household of academics; lived in many places as a child (including Hawaii & Australia) and have parents from different socio-economic backgrounds. Rarely have I found a book so intelligently and perceptively written that tackles the many ways in which our personal and national histories, cultural conditioning, and class expectations create unexpected challenges as we go out into ...more
Oct 06, 2009 Pamela rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
I love this book. I love the mix of history intertwined with a story of love and family. This is a memoir of the quest of discovering who we are and who our love is. How love spans the test of time through history...past, present and future. That love is not confined to boundaries like culture and societal expectations. Beautifully written and well-researched....a wonderful peek at the world and how we all fit in it.
It has been about a month since I finished this book and I a
Dec 20, 2010 Leslie rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Polynesian history buffs
Come on Shore and We Will Kill and Eat You All is two books mixed in one, with possibly the word's most unfortunate choice for a title. It's partly the history of the Maoris of New Zealand in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, and partly
of the author's marriage to a Maori man she met in a bar while vacationing in New Zealand.
I found the history of the Europeans' first contact with the Maori to be interesting and the troubled realtions between the two vastly different cultures
Rebecca Huston
I both liked and detested this book. A narrative that mixes the author's meeting her Maori husband and the life they built together in Boston and Australia, with too-brief snippets about the Maori encounters with Europeans. Parts of this book did work, but by the end, I was left with very mixed feelings. Only three stars and only somewhat recommended.

For the longer review, please go here:
Sep 13, 2008 Alohatiki rated it liked it
I was really into this book about an American woman who marries a Maori. And then she spent the last few chapters covering her families American history, snooze. I guess she just ran out of stuff to talk about. I like the history of Polynesian Islands since i read all that stuff normally. So really 4 stars until the American history part.
May 13, 2010 Katie rated it it was amazing
Kelly, thank you for loaning me this book, you knew I'd love it!! How do you not love a story that starts with a hatpin through Boston to the other side of the globe, includes a love story that begins with a bar fight between a Maori and a Pakeha, and ultimately is an entertaining and quirky commentary on the long-term effects of colonization (or "civilizing" uncharted land as our adventurous European ancestors liked to think of it).
One of my favorite lines in this book is on p. 87 and starts: "
Sep 13, 2009 Mollie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Mollie by: Giveaways
I received Come on Shore and We Will Kill and Eat You All as part of the Goodreads giveaway program and was pleasantly surprised. What I expected to be a rather fluffy love story (and I enjoy a prince charming as much as the next person) in a great setting was instead a very readable overview of New Zealand history embedded in one woman's story. The writing exceeded my expectations, the research was substantive (supported by her professional academic work on the topic) and the story was reflecti ...more
The title of this book derives from Maori threats that were made to early explorers, many of whom discovered very quickly that they certainly were not empty threats! The history of the Maorri in recent times is a tragic one with in fighting between tribes following their acquisition of guns from the white settlers combined with western illnesses leading to a near catastrophic collapse of the race. Christina Thompson, a Bostonian, became fascinated with the history of the Pacific peoples during a ...more
Caroline Woodward
Apr 23, 2014 Caroline Woodward rated it it was amazing
The thing that struck me most about this book, with the wonderful title, subtitled: A New Zealand Story, is that the author, an academic, wears her credentials lightly and writes beautifully. Her synthesis of South Seas colonial history and her personal journey to fulfill a PhD, marrying and raising a family with a Maori man, and finally, with a perfectly paced whammo, her own ancestor's pivotal role in the US West is so skillfully done that the book reads like a historical novel in two parts.
May 31, 2015 Shomeret rated it really liked it
I think that this author's awareness of racism does her a great deal of credit. I particularly liked the fact that she uncovered the racism in her own family's history and didn't shy away from presenting it. I won this book from Goodreads First Reads and this is my honest review.

It occurred to me that the history of Maori domination by the English is a re-capitulation of what had already occurred in Scotland, Ireland and Wales. England began by suppressing their neighbors on the British Isles be
Donna Davis
For years I searched for history books that gave either the past history, or current culture, of the Pacific Islands. The population I taught had large numbers of Islander kids in it, and they would be the first to tell you, their culture and history is NOTHING like that of people called "Asian", i.e., China, Japan, Korea...maybe a teensy bit more like Cambodia.

This fabulous book, listed under "anthropology" (a part of the book store I never go! Good thing I saw it reviewed and went looking for
Mar 16, 2011 Brian rated it it was ok
Wish she'd decide what she wanted the book to be about, and delve deeper

I'm trying to remember where I got the suggestion to read this. I'm leaning toward the Economist, but that would make me a little sad, as it would be the first non-fiction bad rec I've gotten from them (the first bad rec of all was Ultimatum, which I still have yet to rate and review cause I'm just at a loss).

In any case, I was a little disappointed. Part personal history, part brief survey of the history of the Polynesian p
Jan 17, 2013 Trisha rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction, oceania
Half memoir, half historical account. While Thompson does a good job of uncovering Maori history and there is much to learn from the fruits of her extensive research, her personal story is unfortunately very impersonal. I prefer memoirs to convey at least occasional emotion and this book lacks any. If the author didn't explicitly state her relationships with the other characters, one would have no grounds on which to assume that relationships existed at all. This style made me wonder if the auth ...more
Elise Cohen
"Christina Thompson is a lyrical, thoughtful writer with a background in English literature. The pity is, she has nothing compelling to say. This memoir of her life to date discusses her marriage to a Maori New Zealand native and her family's moves through the mainland US, Hawai'i, Australia, and New Zealand, but never really offers more than that. She gives a bit of European New Zealand discovery history, discusses her own feelings about it, and rarely truly delves into the Maori experience. In ...more
Mar 27, 2014 christy rated it it was ok
Such promise in this half history/half memoir premise. The saving aspect is the NZ history, which is handled less deftly than I'd hoped. {If NZ history interests you, head for Keith Sinclair's book}. Superficial, clinical statements are offered up as memoir here. There is little depth or warmth to Thompson's personal writing, and readers are given no indication she loves, or even cares about, the man she married, and he is featured prominently. Her descriptions of him are consistently framed aga ...more
Feb 03, 2013 Jenny rated it really liked it
Not really a review; more of a personal reflection.

Thompson, on her first trip to New Zealand: "Something about the place and the people... made me feel as though I had discovered something new and marvelous, as though I had arrived at wherever I was meant to be. At first, I just sat and wondered what, if anything, I should do. I knew that if I did nothing, the power of these impressions would inevitably fade. But I couldn't stand the prospect of just letting everything go back to the way it had
Jan 23, 2016 s_cozo rated it liked it
This book was interesting in that Thompson connected historical accounts to her reasoning, experience, and just life in general, trying to make sense of the world by seeing it through the lens of the past.

I enjoyed how there were references of Hawaii in it and how the Maori language is pretty similar to that of olelo Hawaii.
Nov 13, 2008 Kyla rated it really liked it
I raced through this book, pulled along in part by the familiarity of a North American encountering New Zealand and Maori culture for the first time. The other part that pulled me along was the sheer audacity of a scholar extrapolating her personal relationship (her marriage to a Marori man)and extend it to the history of colonization of New Zealand. It breaks all the rules - and I love it. Social scientists, historians and anthropologists may spin in their tenured chairs - but it works and deli ...more
Oct 27, 2009 David rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A very interesting book, by one of my former professors. It's literary and literate without being dry, personal, which I really enjoyed, but with enough context to provide the events of the people in the book's lives with some real context. I felt reading this book the same way I felt reading Common Ground, or learning about my family's history, or learning about my friends -- it's the process of becoming aware of oneself in a way that allows us to see some of the patterns that form the fabric o ...more
Mar 18, 2009 Joyce rated it really liked it
The only book title that has enticed me more in recent memory is "When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops?".

The title quotes Darwin quoting the Maori at the time of first contact with Europeans. Thompson's theme is this contact through history -- in New Zealand and in her own family (She married a Maori while a grad student in Australia.)

More a meomoir than a history of the Maori people. Enjoyed it.
Sep 14, 2014 Lesley rated it really liked it
Other reviews here on Goodreads will tell you much more about this book's subject matter. Those reviews also run the gamut of one to five stars. Yes, the book does combine the history if the Maori and Polynesia with the writer's personal story of intermarriage. And yes, it sometimes reads as a doctoral thesis and at other times like a memoir. But I found that just reading along, absorbing the information and ignoring the format made the book much more interesting. Unlike some other readers, I fo ...more
Nov 21, 2008 Gretchen rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: No one
Very unsatisfying. I picked this up from the library hoping for a history of New Zealand colonization, but instead it was a rambling memoir of the author's trips to Australia and New Zealand, mixed briefly with history only as it related to her personal experiences, which were not in any kind of order. Disappointing, stopped reading it after fifty or so pages.
This is a tough book to categorize. It goes back and forth between the authors personal story of meeting, marrying, and living with her Maori husband, and a history of the Maori people with excursions into the effects of the first contact between two very different cultures. It was interesting since I really didnt know much about the Maori people, but I was disappointed in the memoir aspect of it. It seemed to just be a listing of the places they lived and a bit about peoples attitudes (includin ...more
Dec 04, 2015 Bex rated it really liked it
I really liked this book, but it did have some slow points. First, I didn't know much about New Zealand or the Maori, so I really, really loved the way in which Thompson described that. For the most part, she told history the fun way, you know, only highlighting the interesting, cool bits. Especially about the early explorers, who I've always had an interest in. I will say that I feel like Thompson could be a little haranguing at some points, inserting her views over the facts. Which is fine, I ...more
Michelle Boyer
Dec 14, 2015 Michelle Boyer rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: Nobody
Are you kidding me?

I have to preface this review by stating that I am currently a Ph.D. student that is working with Maori literature--but I also read this for a Travel Narratives course. Let me just say, I have no idea where you would shelve this book in a physical book store (and that's only the start of my problems with this book).

This is often discussed as "travel writing" but there is very little actual travel talked about in the book that the author actually did. Most of the "travel" is
Oct 20, 2009 Adrienne rated it really liked it
This taught me a lot about a part of a the world I very knew little of. Very engaging.
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