The Rural Reader: Kawai. Review by Dr Patrick Aldwell.

In this Rural Reader, Dr Patrick Aldwell reviews Kawai. A book by Monty Soutar, 2022

When an old friend suggested I read this book, I wasn’t too sure about it. First, it is a novel, and second, it is the first of a trilogy; neither of these is my strong suit in terms of reading. 

When a second friend recommended it to me, I took the bait, and I am pleased I did. Monty (affiliated with Ngati Porou, Ngati Awa, Ngai Tai ki Tamaki and Ngati Kahungunu) is an accomplished historian with knowledge steeped in military history. These two attributes are fundamental to the character growth and leadership development of the main protagonists and antagonists in this novel. 

While this is not a comfortable or “nice” read, it is, in my opinion, helpful in terms of understanding aspects of te ao Māori prior to the arrival of Europeans – and even how some of that world plays out today. In particular, it is an introduction to the power of lineage (Kawai) and the responsibilities, consequences, and leadership associated with that lineage. 

With considerable curiosity,  I look forward to the next book in the trilogy.

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