Book Review: The Two Worlds of Maggie Papakura (2005) by David Andrews


Maggie Papakura, probably taken in her house at Whakarewarewa. Photograph taken by William Henry Thomas Partington [ca 1910], courtesy of

 Margaret Pattison Thom, who was later widely known as Makereti (or Maggie) Papakura, (1873 – 1930) is a fascinating New Zealand historical figure, because her story spans two contrasting worlds and times. She was born to an English father and Maori mother and grew up in a traditional Maori way—living in a whare, sleeping on the floor, and cooking over a hangi. She became one of Rotorua’s most famous tour guides and hosted thousands of visitors, including the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York. Her natural charm and storytelling ability lead to international exhibition opportunities in Sydney and London, and the press of the time report her as being comparable to the most charming English woman.

She eventually married an English country squire and lived the kind of life unimaginable to her as a girl. All the while she is focussed on preserving and promoting traditional Maori culture, using this as her thesis topic for anthropology studies at Oxford University in 1926, although she died in 1930 before it was published (it was published eight years later by a friend).


A different world: Maggie Papakura, 21 July 1913, taken in a London studio, courtesy of

No wonder David Andrews was (clearly) fascinated by his subject. I am grateful to him for researching, collating and preserving Papakura’s story for future generations. He travelled far and wide and spent a lot of money piecing together her life. However, the writing often rambles and is repetitive, and the entire book is in need of a thorough edit. Don’t get me started on the random spaces before commas and other layout issues! Continue reading

Translating Impossible Beauty into Words: Nederlands Dans Theater

Nederlands Dans Theater at The Civic Theatre, Auckland, New Zealand, 29 July 2016

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Safe as Houses (Choreography by Sol Leon and Paul Lightfoot)

Safe as Houses

Darkness and light
Shadow and illumination
Clock-ticking wall-chasing
Incogitable strength cranes limbs
A life in the hinge of an ankle
The vanishing ballet.


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Woke up Blind (Choreography by Marco Goecke, Music by Jeff Buckley)

Woke up Blind

An entire dance to one haunting, lingering Jeff Buckley note
“Burning holes with eyes of liquid brown”
Pulling and pushing
Wanting, hating
Hissing angry copulating frenzied love
Trapped inside the mind
Breakdown in communication
Together again. Alone.


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The Statement (Choreography by Crystal Pite)

The Statement

He’s here from upstairs.
Dancers slide and drip over the
boardroom table
Moral molasses.
The ability to proliferate conflict
light years away, from the
safety of the boardroom table.
Desperate quandary
Traitorous switched roles
Rapture and torment
Upstairs, and beneath a table.
A decision made?

Continue reading