I had started to write in a state of innocence about the things I knew, as writers are so often advised to do. So much of my early life had been associated with the Maori world, and I had married someone of Maori descent, that the criticism didn't seem to be about me. But lately I had begun to wonder if it was, and I had simply chosen not to hear what I didn't like.
Already Michael King and I had talked about the issues.
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But already he was feeling some chill winds of disapproval. Michael spoke Maori and, through his time covering the Maori round on the Waikato Times and, later, his relationship with Irihapeti Ramsden, he had close links with Maori royalty. He and Irihapeti had lived in our street together during a brief and sadly fated affair.
I was willing to listen to those who criticised, but what I didn't like that wintry weekend was that Pakeha people were pointing their fingers at me. Nor was that the reason I had come to the hui at Rotoiti. Even as their attacks began, I was being greeted by familiar Maori faces from Rotorua days, embraced and exclaimed over as if I'd never been away.
I stood my ground but I was shaken, especially when one of the opposing group hissed at me: "How can you can call yourself Maori? A honky with a tape recorder. Of course I had never called myself Maori, nonetheless I felt angry and humiliated. As I left, I knew I would have to address the problem eventually.
At the End of Darwin Road: A Memoir by Fiona Kidman
Later, when I did begin to explore the matter in a calmer light, I started to consider the implications of writing as if Maori didn't exist, and that seemed as big a problem as the one I stood accused of. If I left Maori voices out of my work altogether, surely I would present the face of a monoculture that was, in its way, a form of reverse racism? This was something I wasn't prepared to contemplate. I would have to learn to do it differently. But, as a first step, I decided never to adopt a first person Maori voice in my work again; rather, I would regard the relationship from a Pakeha perspective, in which the characters had equal weight.
After all these years, it interests me that none of my friends in the Maori or Pacific Island writing communities ever appeared to waver in their friendship. If they had private views on the matter, they did not express them; I think they understood some of my inner conflict, and trusted me to find my way through it.
As I drove away from Rotorua, I was feeling troubled on several other counts. I often slept restlessly or not much at all. A dark corner would turn over at the edge of the picture. I could never quite lift it. Mandarin Summer is essentially a work of fiction, and so are most of the characters, but I have long ago given up the pretence that Constance and Luke Freeman are not based on my parents, nor Emily on myself.
It is a story of friendship and love, too, with some poignant accounts of her relationships, including the tragic loss of two of her dearest friends, which had me in tears. And, her husband Ian, and their great love, casts a dappled light over the pages. He half raised on laden arm in salute, as he walked towards me. This is the story of my life—Ian walking towards me, never away.
At the End of Darwin Road: A Memoir
There were times when he might have. Memory can be difficult sometimes. This is such a gorgeous book. Reading it is like sitting down for coffee with a dear friend. Fascination with Kerikeri, as one does with the place where one is formed. The morning her first children, Joanna, was born: But there I was, a mother and a writer. It was my twenty-third birthday. The baby was mine. When I sat down to write Mandarin Summer, it was time to draw on this stored material about the North that I had carried around in my head for more than twenty years.
May 23, Nanda rated it it was amazing. Oct 19, Sherilyn rated it really liked it Shelves: nz-authors , secondhand-pile.
A fascinating insight into Kidsman's early years. You can learn to love an author more, when they give you a view into their past. That is the case with this book. May 03, Anna rated it really liked it Shelves: nz-books. I really enjoyed this memoir. I haven't read Fiona Kidman in years but I used to love her books.
Reading this reminds me to go back and re-read some of the older ones and to get started on The Captive Wife which I bought last time I was home at the same time as I bought this book. Fiona Kidman is a pretty accomplished author and yet, she took her School Certific I really enjoyed this memoir. Fiona Kidman is a pretty accomplished author and yet, she took her School Certificate exams and then left school and worked a bunch of different jobs including working in a library.
That's what young people did then - they didn't go to university. We didn't go right away either. Some folks were upset by that - is that really what an arts grant is for? Very practical. And that fits for NZ too, doesn't it?
Trish McCormack rated it really liked it Oct 05, Felicity Price rated it it was amazing Apr 12, Louise Leonard rated it it was amazing Mar 07, Arlen rated it really liked it Mar 19, Noeline Pengelly rated it liked it Nov 03, Madeline rated it really liked it Oct 10, Glenys rated it really liked it Aug 30, Lianne rated it liked it Nov 27, Pamela Clark rated it really liked it Aug 20, Kidman says when she began writing she was ignorant of the fact that "women weren't supposed to be writers''.
I was a voracious reader and I thought other people had written books and I could too. Although I had worked in the library, I had blundered into library work, and it was a very happy blunder, something that really changed my life. What Kidman also quickly discovered was that writing "wasn't entirely compatible with domestic life of the young housewife'', which was when she decided to go into freelance writing to earn money. Skip to main content. Saturday, 8 March Comment now. Related Stories. Add a Comment Login or register to post comments.