Maori Boy: A Memoir of Childhood

Ihimaera, Witi

  20 Reviews

Once upon a time, a baby was born into a Mormon Maori family. This baby grew up to be none other than one of New Zealand's greatest storytellers - Witi Ihimaera. The childhood that followed became the foundation for much of his writing, reflecting his cultural heritage and unique perspective on life.

Rich with whakapapa and mythology, this enthralling memoir of his early years beautifully articulates the experience of growing up Maori in New Zealand.

Comments from Groups

Those who finished the book found Witi Ihimaera's memoir to be fascinating, sometimes comical, sometimes nostalgic and often longwinded (but well worth the read). Not all completed the whole narrative - but hopefully those who didn't read it were intrigued by the comments from those who did. Wanganui 005

Witi's writing style very much engaged the group, often it felt as if the reader was in conversation with him. Significant to our members was the detail about Gisborne, as we all live there. Some found the wanderings into the whakapapa challenging, with long descriptions of who's who - however others in our group loved this roaming amongst the present, the just passed, or distant past enthralling. Witi's regret on not being brought up by his grandmother was appreciated, however we agreed that, had he been, he may never have become the bridge between our two cultures that he is today! We were grateful for that. Gisborne 005

75% enjoyed it immensely - most found the Maori mythology and whakapapa difficult, but knew and recognised it was an integral part of Witi's story. Many interesting topics were discussed, and there was unanimous praise for the notes which assisted us to garner the intricacies of the story. High praise for his style and descriptions. A challenging autobiography, but looking forward to the next! Timaru 007

We found this book quite demanding because of its length, but well worth the effort. It gave some valuable insights into Maori history and culture, and caused quite a lot of discussion of Maori/Pakeha relations in the past i.e/ when members were young in the 1950s, and the present. Auckland 335

We all found the parts of the book that dealt with the whakapapa too long, and couldn't quite remember how the families all fitted together. The book was disappointing to most, and although our first choice from the catalogue, it obviously did not live up to expectation.However most enjoyed his descriptions of Gisborne, and what living there was like. Most of the group identified with this, as many of us grew up in provincial New Zealand.Wellington 142

This was such an interesting book with so many threads. All agreed we gained a greater understanding of Witi Ihimaera as a person. Great discussion had on the change in Maori/Pakeha relationships in our lifetime, and how the successful living together relies on 'bridge builders' like Ihimaera, who bridge both races to provide understanding. Putaruru 001



Enjoyed by all.
Those that managed to get through the first part found it interesting and thought it well-written. General consensus was that it was difficult to follow all the connections in the family, but an interesting read.
MILT 002
Book was generally enjoyed and created a lot of discussion. One member found it a walk down memory lane as she had lived a street away, and had friends mentioned in the book. Another commented that she had learnt a lot re N.I. Maori customs. Nobody liked the print or photo captions. May have been artistic but not easily read.
RAUM 001
He tells a good story. Some would have liked it to be shorter.
CHCH 086
Interesting issues, well-written and honest but somewhat confusing.
The novel was well-written and once one got through all the whakapapa it was very entertaining, and painted a picture of Gisborne as it was in the fifties. The Group felt, in the main, that the family tree was of more interest to his whanau than to his readers who found it heavy going, as it would be for any other's family history. The snippets of quirky humour throughout helped lighten the seriousness. We thought that the sexual abuse written about in the book and aired in public would have upset his family. We gave it a 4 star rating.
This was a big read! A lot found the first third hard going but worth the effort. Gave a good insight into a Maori lifestyle and perspective.
AUCK 314
I was fascinated by this book, by the stories of his upbringing in a Maori world. As Pakeha, I think we don't have enough of this understanding. Others liked the 'whakapapa' section the best, the full family history. Not everyone completed it and some didn't like the circular narrative.
AUCK 280
All group members enjoyed the book. Some enjoyed the mythology, some not, but all enjoyed and related to the stories of his school years. Well-written. Generally felt the font made it difficult to read.
TAUR 022
The majority of the group found this book "challenging". Two members thoroughly enjoyed it.
Not all members read the book. Some were overwhelmed by the detail and Maori history.
WGTN 024
Though many found it tedious it generated great discussion. Fabulous to have a N.Z. read.
Thoroughly enjoyed by all the group.
TAUR 015
Lovely, very readable N.Z. story. Everyone enjoyed it.
UPHU 002
Most of our group thoroughly enjoyed 'Maori Boy', and are planning on reading the sequel. Well-written story of Witi Ihimaera's early years, with many anecdotal stories of our era.
This was an enjoyable read. The group would be very keen to read his next one.
A long read and at times a bit hard going, some found his Whakapapa a bit difficult to comprehend. In spite of this we did find it an interesting glimpse into the life of a Maori family straddling the Maori/Pakeha divide of the post war 40s and 50s. The struggles they faced from both Maori and Pakeha alike. His story telling is engaging and painted a very realistic picture of the times and struggles they faced. Our discussion centred on what has changed for Maori, are the hardships just as poignant today as they were back then
Excellent book to read and discuss. Thanks.
WELL 117
The book was informative, entertaining and easy to read. All New Zealanders should read it to give us an insight into what is important to Maori, and why.
CHCH 001
Marks ranged from 5 to 10. All agreed it was not an 'easy' read for a variety of reasons. An extremely complex book that 'flowed' almost in a spiral with myths and legends, stories and events interwoven. It is a memoir not an autobiography.