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Home arrow Articles by Topic arrow Heritage arrow Out of the shadows
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Written by Philip Matthews, The Dominion Post   
Thursday, 10 November 2011
RANGATIRA: Paula Morris forged a new voice to convey Paratene's pride and dry wit.

Paula Morris, global nomad. A recent Tuesday afternoon finds Morris jetlagged, at her parents' house in west Auckland, following her third flight home from the other side of the world in less than a year. She was over the Pacific during the Rugby World Cup final; there were no pictures, just text updates over the screens when the score changed. "It was horrible, so nerve-racking."

Despite being jetlagged, she is articulate, talking about her new novel, Rangatira, based on the life of her tupuna, Paratene Te Manu, a 19th- century Ngati Wai chief. She explains that the novel began with the discovery of a picture: Gottfried Lindauer's painting of Paratene. He is cloaked, elderly, looking out from the gloom with a full facial moko. Penguin Books has reproduced the painting on the cover of Rangatira, thus circulating it widely. Otherwise, the painting has stayed hidden in the vaults of Auckland Art Gallery and is so rarely displayed that many of Paratene's iwi had never seen it. Morris and her father were shown it in storage.

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