Ghosts of Parihaka by David Hair, Harper Collins NZ
This is the fifth book in the Aotearoa series, and in an Author’s Note we are told that there will be one more. Like most long-running series, it’s more enjoyable if you’ve read the previous titles and have some idea what’s going on. In a densely-woven story the author re-introduces us to the main situation - the action takes place in two worlds, current-day New Zealand plus a semi-historic supernatural version called Aotearoa. Tohunga, both good and bad, can travel between the worlds and manipulate what goes on.
The main character is a 17-year old part-Maori tohunga called Matt. As in the other books, Matt and his friends end up travelling into Aotearoa to defeat an evil magician and his cronies - this one is called John Bryce, and he wants to control the whole country. The author confesses that his John Bryce is a lot different to the real one - but the real one did lead a violent and shameful government- approved invasion of the Maori pacifist village at Parihaka in 1881, and this theme runs strongly through the story. There’s the usual mix of non-stop action, high suspense, exciting supernatural events, Maori mythology, and historical overtones - but Matt is now interested in girls, so this theme is getting stronger. He’s being coerced by a Maori goddess, no less, who’s determined to have her wicked way with him... Intriguing stuff, but we have to wait for the last book to find out what happens.
ISBN 978 1 86950 932 3 RRP $24.99 Pb
Reviewed by Lorraine Orman
Teaching Notes (keep scrolling down until you find it for this book)