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Mahoe Leaves; Being a Selection of Sketches of New Zealand and Its Inhabitants, and Other Matters Concerning Them


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In presenting the following series of sketches to the reader, it may be appropriate to say a few words by way of introduction, in order that the purpose for which they have been written may be clearly indicate at the outset.

First, then, it has been attempted, let the experienced colonist say with what measure of success, to give a faithful delineation of Maori life and character, not in the form of dry didactic essays, but rather in that of separate descriptive narratives where fictitious characters, forming types of classes, are introduced, whose acts and words serve the purpose of illustrating the author’s meaning. “Jeremiah,” “Malachi,” and “Parnapa,” are all thus far creations of the imagination; yet, at the same time every incident, every characteristic, every expression of Maori opinion, is closely and faithfully given, either as it actually occurred, or fell from the lips of the Maori. Hence it is the truthfulness of these sketches that constitutes their chief merit.

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What dweller in these lands, that has for years mingled amidst native scenes, and seen the Maori as he is, but will bear testimony to the fidelity of the picture here drawn? If the artist has succeeded in his task, if he has “held the mirror up to nature,” if he has placed on the canvass a real creation, instead of an ideal outline, then one of his chief objects has been attained.

The articles he has devoted to the questions of education and religious instruction, as well as his allusions to the general means adopted for the civilization of this race, may serve to throw some light on a few dark places, dispel some erroneous opinions, and expose the shams and abuses of a bad system. Perhaps never before has any writer, except in the columns of colonial journals, attempted to do this; and it is the highly flattering reception which those sketches have already met with, when published in that form, that has induced him to put them forth in this little volume. Originally expressly written for the “Wellington Independent,” they have been copied into nearly every leading journal of the colony, and their reception has been most gratifying in those settlements which are almost in the heart of Native territory. It is to be hoped that the favorable augury of future success thus afforded, may not be falsified in the present undertaking.