Auckland, June 1886.
Ngati Wai chief Paratene Te Manu spends long sessions, over three long days, having his portrait painted by the Bohemian painter Gottfried Lindauer. Hearing of Lindauer’s planned trip to England reminds him of his own journey there, twenty years earlier, with a party of northern rangatira. As he sits for Lindauer, Paratene retreats deeper and deeper into the past, from the triumphs in London and their meetings with royalty to the disintegration of the visit into poverty, mistrust, and humiliation.
Morris’ research is both thorough and thoughtful . . . With its light, often wry tone, much of the story-telling is amusing, albeit desperately poignant.’
About the Author
Paula Morris is of Ngati Wai and English descent. Her first novel, Queen of Beauty (2002), won the NZSA Hubert Church Best First Book of Fiction at the 2003 Montana book Awards. She graduated in 2004 from the Iowa writers’ Workshop, where she was the Glenn Schaeffer New Zealand Fellow. She has also published three other novels, Hibiscus Coast (2005), Trendy But Casual (2007) and Rangatira (2011), and the short-story collection Forbidden Cities (2008). She edited The Penguin Book of Contemporary New Zealand Short Stories (2009) and has published two young adult novels in the United States.
Paula has worked in London and New York, first as a publicist and marketing executive in the record business, and later as a branding consultant and advertising copywriter. Since 2003 she’s taught creative writing at universities – most recently as a Teaching Fellow at Iowa State University, at Tulane University in New Orleans, and at the University of Stirling in Scotland, where she’s currently based.
Rangatira is a splendidly wry and mature novel which makes us re-examine our perceptions of New Zealand history and think harder about the motives and backgrounds of earlier historians and their audiences, what they simply got wrong and what they wilfully distorted.