Wednesday, December 19, 2018

'Time is the fire in which we burn'

My latest piece for EyeContact is about the Tongan avant-garde's residency in West Auckland, my son Lui's collage art, the difficulty in being satisfyingly bored in the West, & a time-travelling teddy bear.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

News from Takuu

Polynesians reviving their pre-Christian spiritual practices, like Tonga's Visesio Siasau & Tahiti's Moana'ura Walker, have sometimes had to hunt for details of rites & deities in old, unreliable texts & half-suppressed oral traditions. But what if a scholar could visit a Poly culture before it had hosted missionaries, & bring back an account of that culture? With his new book Richard Moyle has done just such a thing.

Moyle, who is an emeritus professor in the University of Auckland's Anthropology Department, has repeatedly made the long & dangerous journey to Takuu, a tiny, sinking atoll north of Bougainville where variants of Maui & Tangaroa are still revered as deities, & mediums still enter trances to channel otherworldly voices. With their homeland threatened by waves, the people of Takuu invited Moyle to document their culture & religion. Professor Moyle may not realise it yet, but Ritual Belief on Takuu: Polynesian religion in practice is likely to become a near-sacred text for some members of tropical Polynesia's burgeoning post-Christian movement.

Moyle has also documented Takuu culture on film: you can watch his footage of an island seance, for example, here.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Chart action

I'm grateful to Auckland Public Libraries for putting Ghost South Road in their list of top ten non-fiction books. Our tome rubs shoulders with Andrew Crowe's Pathway of the Birds, a book I'll be nagging someone to buy me for Xmas. Here's the list

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Sentinel myths

I've done a piece for The Spinoff on three myths about the world's most advanced civilisation, North Sentinel Island, and on what the benighted West can learn from the killers of John Chau.