Potiki Essay

This essay has a total of 984 words and 6 pages.

Potiki



HISTORY 202
Critical Review









Potiki
Laura Tongi
1006674






June 16, 1999
Professor Inglis
Brigham Young University -Hawaii Campus



Potiki

Land, to many of us, is a place of growth and development. When the Pakeha, or
white man, saw the fertile land of New Zealand, he saw opportunity and investment to
make more money. But did the Pakeha really know what land is to those who live as though
their land is everything they had? Of course, they must have known that land is precious to
them, but did they realize just how precious land was to the Maori’s? Land was life to the
Maori people, and if it was destroyed, it meant that the land needed to be renewed with new
life. The land and life was sacred and immortal.

The novel, Potiki, explained in different points of view what the land meant to the
Maori people. Roimata made it clear that, “...the land does not belong to people, but that
people belong to the land” (110). She viewed the land as a sacred means of life renewal. She
even said that everything in time was a “now-time”. The past and the present were only
named for convenience, but when all was one, and all had an influence on each other (39).
Toko said that his father, Hemi, explained that, “the land and sea was our whole life, the
mans by which we survived and stayed together. Our whanau is the land and the sea.
Destroy the land and sea, we destroy ourselves” (98).

Immortality is an exemption from death, or everlasting life. In the Maori’s world,
nothing ever died. This was exemplified through the carvings of the wharekai, or meeting
house. When a person from the whanau, or family of the land, died, they were remembered
in the carvings of the wharekai. A good example of this is Toko, who was a crippled boy
that died inside the wharekai. His statue was one with an eye to the land and an eye to the
sky. The fish that was near him was another example of immortality in itself. When Toko
had caught the fish, after it was cleaned, the remains were buried under the passion fruit tree
whose vines grew enormously over the years afterwards. This symbolizes that the death of
the fish was not really a death, but a renewal of the life of the vine, and giving life to the
people whom would eat and share the gracious sea offering.

The Pakeha insistently bribed, then tried to destroy their competitor’s land and scare
them off. They thought it was a good opportunity for the Maori people. Of course, to the
Pakeha, the Maori’s were still just savages trying to make a living out of nothing. The
problem with the Maori people is that they were just too stubborn to share a part of their
land for the growth and development of a new facility that could make the people that own
that land a very large profit. What the Maori people did not understand was that land is
money, and to let that land go to waste is a waste on humanity. After all, the Pakeha were
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