The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 13, Issue 11 (January 1, 1939)
One of the finest features that have appeared in the pages of this Magazine was James Cowan's “Famous New Zealandsers.” Included in that grand portrait gallery of the elect was Dr. Peter Buck, D.S.O., whose latest book “Vikings of the Sunrise,” is the subject of this notice. My reference, however, must be tinged with a note of regret that the author of this noteworthy book should now be lost to this country. He was appointed a few years ago to the faculty of Yale University as Professor of Anthropology, and detached for service as Director of the Bishop Museum, at Honolulu. Over three years ago James Cowan expressed the hope that “New Zealanders would see this great, scholarly and gallant figure at the head of Pacific Anthropological studies in his own homeland.” Although achievement appears to have carried him further away from us it is gratifyingly evident from his latest book that Dr. Buck's heart and interest are still largely with us. Although Dr. Buck tells in this book of the peopling of the scattered islands of the Pacific, as embraced by the borders of Polynesia, there are introduced many facts and memories closely linked to his own country. It is the mingling in him of the blood of the pakeha and Maori, added to his immense research work on the Polynesian people and their settlement of the many islands of the central Pacific, that imparts to this work the great value and interest it will have to students the world over. To New Zealand people in particular, however, the book must have an immediate appeal and no New Zealand library will be complete without it.
It is impossible for me in the space I have at my disposal to give anything but a brief sketch of the vast field covered in this book. It is not a weighty, involved tome for the delectation of the ethnologist, but one for the full enjoyment of the general reader. Here we have history in its most appealing from—the romance and adventure of the marvellous voyages of the early Polynesians, some of the journeys traversing over 2,000 miles in “double canoes.” The meticulous care taken in the preparation for these voyages, and the romance and the danger of it all, are fascinatingly described. We learn of the traditions and the sagas of these early people, and of the native origins and relationships that have such a deep interest for us.
The book is splendidly printed and illustrated (fifty-eight pictures from photographs), Frederick and Stokes, of New York, being the publishers, and Angus and Robertson the Australian and New Zealand distributors.
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While some may disagree with the extent of his “order of reference” the Bibliographical Brochure of New Zealand Literature by L. J. B. Chapple, B.A. (A. H. and A. W. Reed), is a valuable supplement to the existing New Zealand bibliographies. Mr. Chapple's introduction is interesting to students of bibliography. The brochure contains much valuable information. Very thoughtfully, the publishers have adhered closely to the format of the Hocken and Johnstone bibliographies.
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A love for his country—the clean, fresh breath of life—sometimes a pensive pondering over life's mysteries; trees, birds and beautiful skies and waters; all these inspire Arnold Cork in his very satisfying book of verse, “Green Wood—White Wood.” Arnold Cork has a true poet's vision and a splendid sense of the symphony of words. One of his poems “World Music,” is one of the finest things yet written in New Zealand, while his ambitious orchestration of words in “Timber Mill” has given us New Zealand's most musical poem. I was pleased to see “Tapestry” included in the collection. I referred to the quality of this poem some time ago. There are thirty poems included, and it would be too much to expect that all were to attain the high standard of the ones referred to. Messrs. A. W. and A. H. Reed have the satisfaction of publishing this notable addition to New Zealand verse.
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