Best of Both Worlds: The Story of Elsden Best and Tutakangahau

By: Jeffrey Paparoa Holman

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In 1895 a meeting took place in the rugged Urewera ranges – Tuhoe country – that would have lasting effects on our views of traditional Maori society.

Elsdon Best, a self-taught anthropologist and quartermaster on the road past Lake Waikaremoana, was sought out by a leading Tuhoe chief, Tutakangahau of Maungapohatu.

The stories he gave to Best to be recorded for future generations are with us today. Best went on to become a noted Pakeha authority on a people he would style as the last of 'the oldtime Maori'.

How much did the old man tell him? Was it freely given? Can Best's writings – so pervasive today in our understanding of Maori culture – be truly relied upon?

In his unique examination of this historically significant relationship, Jeffrey Paparoa Holman poses such searching questions, further informing a vital national debate on the shared identity – and destiny – of Maori and Pakeha.
Publication Date:
01 / 03 / 2010

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