Voyage Around a River — the Hokianga

Peter Shadbolt


A lavishly illustrated poem sequence that pays tribute to the Hokianga.

SKU: 9781927242728 Category:


“In Voyage around a River we hear the distant murmurings of historians and story-tellers — Maori as well as Pakeha. We pick up traces of their precarious lives, aspirations and social structures. We take in the rhythms, textures and sounds of their environment: … chop … echo … pause … These elements are held together by the calm, detached manner of the poetic sequence — a wafting rather than insistent narrative presence. I imagine Peter Shadbolt’s poetry as a low harbour fog which swallows the hard realities of the world: water, sand, sky, mangroves, humanity, dogs … preserving them in tidal flows of language.”
— from Gregory O’Brien’s afterword

“Peter Shadbolt’s tribute to the Hokianga is a remarkable narrative of kinship with the waters and hinterland of the ‘place of Kupe’s great return’. Rich in observation and memory, overlapped by history and mythology, the strength of this long poem sequence also lies in its seamless integration of the river as vivid physical terrain and contemplative space.”
— Stephanie de Montalk

About the author

Peter Shadbolt was a passionate New Zealander who enjoyed a full life. A dedicated, inspiring teacher and school leader, he read and travelled widely. Described by his son Ben as ‘a Kiwibloke for all seasons’, Peter was an energetic man who loved the outdoors, particularly rugby, fishing, surfing, tramping and gardening. Geology, history, jazz, art and politics were other abiding interests.

He was an engaging, humorous storyteller, particularly of his own life and family from the 1930s onwards — material drawn on extensively by his brother Maurice in his books. Peter, his wife Barbara who was matron at Rawene Hospital, and their children Ben and Clair lived in the Hokianga from 1969 to 1972. Peter taught at Whirinaki and Taheke schools, his children sometimes the only Pakeha pupils there. A skilled rugby player for Taheke club, he was co-opted into playing for Hokianga in the Hone Heke Cup competition between Northland Maori teams. A successful primary teaching career in Wellington and Dunedin followed, and he ended his career as deputy principal of the largest primary school in the country, Te Kura, the Correspondence School. He was also in charge of Special Education there, and was described by director Ormond Tate as ‘a jewel in the Correspondence School’s crown’. In retirement he began to reflect on his time in the Hokianga, which had remained close to his heart.

Additional information

Dimensions 148 × 210 mm