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The Autobiography of a Maori


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It is a saying of the Ngati-Porou Tribe, "He ahiahi whatiwhati kaheru," literally, "It's evening that breaks the spade." Workers in the field, on the approach of evening, put on a spurt, in order to finish the work before dark. It occurs to me that the saying is an apt description of my efforts to write books on the approach of the evening of my life. In truth, it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.

I have lived a long and varied life, consequently this volume is also long and varied in its contents. In The Story of a Maori Chief, I describe the life of a chief who emerged from savagery to occupy a seat in the Legislative Council; in the following pages, I describe the life of a Maori boy, ignorant of the outside world, to become, as a young man, an undergraduate in the university, and, later in life, to live his old age in a very isolated spot, there to divide his time between gardening and writing.

I express regret that owing to restrictions the Autobiography is not a full record of my life; for instance although I have been a member of a local body for over thirty years, there is no reference to that phase of my life. After reading the proofs, I find that in writing an autobiography, one may lay oneself open to a charge of egotism. Be that as it may, my main purpose is to show my people that one can live a happy life under the most adverse circumstances and if the telling of my story is not couched in happy terms, the fault is that I have not learned the art of simulation.


Rangiata, East Cape.
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