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IN presenting the following series of sketches to the reader, it may be appropriate to say a few words by way of introduction, in order that the purpose for which they have been written may be clearly indicated at the outset.
First, then, it has been attempted, let the experienced colonist say with what measure of success, to give a faithful delineation of Maori life and character, not in the form of dry didactic essays, but rather in that of separate descriptive narratives where fictitious characters, forming types of classes, are introduced, whose acts and words serve the purpose of illustrating the author's meaning. "Jeremiah," "Malachi," and "Parnapa," are all thus far creations of the imagination; yet, at the same time, every incident, every characteristic, every expression of Maori opinion, is closely and faithfully given, either as it actually occurred, or fell from the lips of the Maori. Hence it is the truthfulness of these sketches that constitutes their chief merit.
What dweller in these lands, that has for years
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mingled amidst native scenes, and seen the Maori as he is, but will bear testimony to the fidelity of the picture here drawn? If the artist has succeeded in his task, if he has "held the mirror up to nature," if he has placed on the canvass a real creation, instead of an ideal outline, then one of his chief objects has been attained.
The articles he has devoted to the questions of education and religious instruction, as well as his allusions to the general means adopted for the civilisation of this race, may serve to throw some light on a few dark places, dispel some erroneous opinions, and expose the shams and abuses of a bad system. Perhaps never before has any writer, except in the columns of colonial journals, attempted to do this; and it is the highly flattering reception which those sketches have already met with, when published in that form, that has induced him to put them forth in this little volume. Originally expressly written for the Wellington Independent, they have been copied into nearly every leading journal of the colony, and their reception has been most gratifying in those settlements which are almost in the heart of native territory. It is to be hoped that the favorable augury of future success thus afforded, may not be falsified in the present undertaking.
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CONSIDERING the wide field and the wealth of materials, it is not a little surprising that so few capable writers have given their attention and talents to the pourtrayal of the Maori, as he appears to Pakeha eyes. True, the late Judge Manning has left us that ever enjoyable series of sketches, "Old New Zealand," by a Pakeha-Maori; a book that is far too little read by the present colonists, most of whom know little or nothing of the Maori of the early days of European settlement, when the dusky population was only beginning to assimilate Pakeha ways and tastes, and still retained much of his pristine simplicity and characteristics.
In the following pages the author, who wrote a quarter of a century ago, has succeeded in giving a number of most entertaining sketches of the Maori as he then existed. The intervening period has seen a great change in the Maori character, the present generation having to a wonderful extent caught the habits and customs of his Pakeha neighbors, whom he copies with untiring
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and successful efforts. Many of the younger men have been taught English, and studied it so closely that they possess a fair knowledge of, not only the language, but the history of the nation whose people have come to the colony to build up a Greater Britain. As time passes the older Maoris will disappear, and with them many customs and ceremonies which are still in vogue. It is therefore desirable that sketches like the following should not be lost sight of, and that all that relates to so intelligent a race in their first contact with Europeans should be carefully preserved. This has led the publishers of these sketches to reproduce "Mahoe Leaves," the original edition of which contained many errors which in the present edition have been corrected.
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