Volume 70 1961 > Volume 70, No. 4 > Book reviews, p 509-517
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- 509

ROZIER, CLAUDE (ed.): Écrits du Père Chanel, missionnaire mariste à Futuna, 1803-1841. Publications de la Société des Océanistes, No. 9. Paris, Musée de l'Homme, 1960. 539 pp., illus., maps.

Fr. Chanel was the first French missionary to settle on the island of Futuna, 400 km. north-west of Fiji. This is a Polynesian island, not far from Wallis or Uvea, and is sometimes referred to as Horn Island. The book tells the life story of Fr. Chanel, and is introduced as “the complete edition of the writings at present known” of Fr. Chanel. Many of them are documents which were brought together as evidence arguing for his beatification. He was born in 1803, and murdered on Futuna in 1841, within four years of his settling there. He was finally canonised in 1954.

The book is valuable as a history. It gives very little anthropological information, but contains the full diary of the writer till very close to the time of his death, and much can be learned of the ways and thoughts of the Futuna natives in the period before and immediately about the time of the establishment of the Mission. It consists of the actual writings of Fr. Chanel, and is in no sense a life of him. The first part of it is occupied by letters written while he was still in France, dating from 1832 onwards. There are numbers of sermons and meditations which will have no historical interest for students of Polynesian history and life, and it is doubtful whether such will consider the letters written during the long voyage from France via Cape Horn to Futuna as germane to their interests. These sections occupy the first 190 pages of the book, and Part III, ‘En Polynésie’ begins only on page 193. From that point on to the end, the collection becomes a work of real value for the history of the relevant part of Polynesia during the four years dealt with.

The map of Futuna on page 197 is useful, and is reproduced from a vernacular geography book, but strangely enough one or two of the villages quite frequently mentioned in the text cannot be found on it. This map is preceded by a brief account of Futuna life and society written by the editor, which serves as a good summary of general information. Further such general information is contained in various letters from Fr. Chanel, notably on pages 258, 277-8 and 285. All these, however, contain nothing systematic that would be new to the anthropologist who can refer to the standard works. The mention, for instance, that the turtle was a food sacred to chiefs only, occurs simply as a footnote on page 367. The fullest account of the island is given on pages 291-312 in the form of a “document on the Futuna mission attributed to Fr. Chanel,” published by the Annales de la Propagation de la Foi in September, 1841.

The historical matter has two aspects—the story of the Mission and the story of other European contacts taking place at the time.

The former will interest especially those who are concerned with missionary methods in general. It is noteworthy that no attempt was made to disturb the existing culture of the people; the approach was made gradually and on personal terms, largely through the chiefs who really wielded the authority amongst the people. This was a wise method that has not always been followed in missionary circles. The taking of a chance of baptising every sick child to whom the priest was called or of whom he was informed, without any thought as to whether the parents were baptised or not, may be more debatable, but there are numbers of instances of such a - 510 method in Fr. Chanel's diary. Of course, the diary itself does not carry the story very far, but at least it sets the pattern on which future work was done.

The general historian will be more interested in Fr. Chanel's contacts with the Europeans who were already sailing those waters in fair numbers. There seem to be English and American whalers appearing very frequently, who not only provide the first study of culture contact, but—more important for Fr. Chanel—provided a means of contact with the homeland, with Fr. Bataillon on Uvea and with his Bishop in New Zealand. One such European, an Englishman named Jones, plays a considerable part in the story from beginning to end. There does not seem to be the undue “exploitation” of the people at that stage which developed later. Fr. Chanel does remark, however, on the lack of relationship between the goods offered and the prices demanded by the Europeans: “these poor folk gave their goods rather than sold them, a mass of coconuts for one pipe, 3 quite big pigs and 100 yams for a gun” (p. 212). Sidelights of this nature provide useful study material, but they are somewhat rare.

The entire work is well produced, though its paper cover does not give promise of standing much use, and its weight makes it rather difficult to handle. It is good that such works should be produced, so that the past of the Pacific and those who worked in it may be recaptured, and the Musée de l'Homme has done good service in this regard.


University of Sydney

SMITH, NORMAN: Maori Land Law. Wellington, A. H. & A. W. Reed, 1960. xxv, 376 pp. Price (N.Z.) £2/2/-.

The dust jacket to this book states that the author is a Judge of the Maori Land Court and that the book represents an enlarged version of an earlier work. It is also stated that the book will not only be essential reading for all lawyers concerned with problems associated with Maori land, but will also be of great value to Maori leaders, administrators and landowners.

Many readers—the non-lawyers especially—will find the author's presentation of his subject less than satisfying. In the main, but with some notable exceptions, the author has done little more than provide a commentary on the relevant statutory provisions. Lawyers have become accustomed to this sort of treatment of some aspects of their practice, but other readers will regard this as a particularly uninteresting approach to a quite fascinating subject. When the author abandons mere commentary and provides his own account of the work of the Supreme Court and the Maori Land Court the book moves to a higher plane. I read with enjoyment the author's account of Maori customs in relation to marriage (pp. 36-39), adoption (pp. 40-44 and 46-48), succession (pp. 55-57 and 59-60), and title to land (pp. 83-114), but those passages form only a modest part of the book itself. The contrast between those portions and the necessarily dull annotations to statutory provisions will be noted by all readers, including the lawyers.

As a lawyer I found a great deal to interest me in the book. I was reminded of some of the differences between the law applied by the Maori Land Court to Maoris and the law applied in the ordinary courts. For instance, the Maori Land Court applies a different rule from that applied to other New Zealanders concerning succession to land owned by an adopted child. According to Maori custom as applied by the Court, those who take - 511 on the intestacy of an adopted child are not the next of kin of the adoptive parents but the next of kin of the child. In other words, if an adopted child dies without issue it is the “source from which the land was derived” (p. 46), which benefits, not the next of kin of the parents who, it must be admitted, lack a superior claim to those representing the natural family.

A Maori will is not subject to the law to which the wills of other New Zealanders are required to conform. The will of a New Zealander (other than a Maori) must be witnessed by two other persons who need not possess any special qualifications, but a Maori testator must secure at least one witness who is either a solicitor, Justice of the Peace, Stipendiary Magistrate, medical practitioner, officiating Minister, licensed interpreter, postmaster, Maori teacher or registered nurse. It is therefore much more difficult for a Maori to make a valid will than it is for other New Zealanders. The book serves to illustrate that in a number of important respects, whether by reason of Maori customs or legislative provision, there are differences in the law as it affects Maoris and others.

There are a number of criticisms or suggestions that should be made. I was surprised to see that no reference was made in the book to the legal effect of the Treaty of Waitangi. I looked for a reference to the decision by the Judicial Committee in Hoani Te Heu Heu Tukino v. The Aotea District Maori Land Board, [1941] N.Z.L.R. 590, but found that the case is not referred to. This is quite surprising in view of its consequences in New Zealand law. Under the decision in Hoani's case, the Treaty of Waitangi is ineffective save to the extent that it has been incorporated in New Zealand law by legislation. Hoani's case is also a landmark from the point of view of international law and Maori law, in that it establishes the precise effect of the compact with the Maoris. The Treaty as such is almost completely ineffective in law despite the sanctity which it is assumed to possess. The book probably went to press before the decision In re an investigation of the title to the Ninety Mile Beach, [1960] N.Z.L.R. 673, which established the proposition that the Maori Land Court has no jurisdiction to investigate and issue a title to the Ninety Mile Beach despite the existence according to the law applied by the Maori Land Court of a Maori customary title to the beach. No reference is made to the case concerning the title to the bed of the Wanganui River, [1955] N.Z.L.R. 419 (but the King v. Morison, [1950] N.Z.L.R. 247; [1949] N.Z.L.R. 567, is mentioned on pp. 13 and 17).

From a purely legal point of view it would be an improvement if the case citations were uniform. Admittedly this is a question more for the publishers than for the author, but the quite considerable divergence in the method of case citation throughout this book must be mentioned. It would also be an advantage if Maori words such as aroha but more particularly words which have an English equivalent, e.g. take were italicised to show that they are being used with a specialized meaning.

For those lawyers who practise before the Maori Land Court this book is essential. For those laymen who are interested in Maori customs it will probably be a disappointment, because the portion describing customs is so modest. By those who are anthropologists it will also be regarded as unsatisfactory for the same reason. It may be found useful by those concerned with comparable problems of customary title in other Pacific communities which have not decided how those titles are to be reconciled with European notions of title to land. But because this book is the only book on Maori Land Law it must, despite its shortcomings, be purchased by all interested in this and allied fields.


University of Auckland

- 512

MORRELL, W. P.: Britain in the Pacific Islands. London, Clarendon Press: Oxford University Press, 1960. xii, 454 pp., maps. Price (U.K.) £2/15/-.

Books by historians on the Pacific area are few, so that a new one is particularly welcome, especially when it comes from an historian of Professor Morrell's scholarly repute. He gives us here the result of years of work; it was begun, he says, in “the recent war”, a phrase which may surprise those of his students not then born, but which also suggests that for Morrell the task has been an absorbing one. He began with an even more ambitious plan—a history of the islands of the Pacific, including New Zealand and Hawaii, down to the present day—but he found the source material so voluminous that he had to omit Hawaii and New Zealand, and restrict the time period, apart from a concluding chapter, to the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. This is the period and area that has been worked over by previous general historians of the Pacific Islands, such as Ward. In what way is Morrell's book different from these?

First it is soundly based on a thorough knowledge of the source material. It is still true, as the author says, that “an historian who attempts a general study of the Pacific Islands must do a great deal of spadework for himself, and it is better so.” The last phrase suggests that Morrell prefers to do his own digging, even in the few areas where others have worked. For example, on the question of the annexation of Fiji, he takes us step by step through the source material used by Miss Ethel Drus in a published article, arriving at the same conclusion. The footnotes thus given provide a useful bibliography of the subject, but at the risk of unnecessarily overloading the text. The extent of Morrell's consideration for the bibliographer is seen in a note to Cook's Voyage towards the South Pole, where he says he follows the wording of the Public Record Office copy, but gives the page references to Douglas's 1777 published edition. Such consideration would have been complete if a bibliography had been included to save the trouble of having to follow op. cit. references back through pages of footnotes to get full details. In its use of source material, then, this book is a great advance on anything that has yet been done in this field.

Morrell, himself, makes two further claims for this work in relation to earlier general histories of the islands. First he follows a current fashion in favourably re-assessing the European influence in a former colonial area. The British missionaries and administrators, he says, are vindicated by the facts as he presents them. His facts, however, are not different, only fuller, than those already known, and these make a difficult pitch on which to bat against the anti-imperialists. Until the end of the nineteenth century, the period to which Morrell limits himself (apart from a concluding chapter), there were few positive achievements to write about, as he acknowledges at the end of his section on Fiji, which provides most of what there was. But on this difficult pitch, Morrell does not always play the bowling as well as he might. So many of the facts he gives belie his general interpretation, and confirm the view that on the whole traders were unscrupulous and grasping, that the missionary outlook was circumscribed by national interest, and that administrators were mostly occupied with maintaining law and order, the more enlightened exceptions being frustrated by parsimony and indifference at home.

One sees this disparity between judgment and the facts in the case of Paddon, the trader and planter in the New Hebrides. Morrell writes of his “humanity and fair dealing”, yet the facts about him which follow in the - 513 succeeding pages indicate that he possessed anything but these qualities. Again so much of what we are told of the missionaries concerns their attempts to punish crime, and their reliance on the secular sword of the navy to teach the natives that crime does not pay. Though Morrell asks the question, “was it the business of the Christian missionaries to call the naval officers in?” this does not alter the fact that they usually did. Similarly the Commission on Depopulation in Fiji, reporting in 1896, presented a severe indictment of the administration for its neglect of native welfare, although this was made almost inevitable by the financial stringency of the British government. When Sir John Thurston became governor in 1888, he accepted half the salary of his predecessor and did the work of Colonial Secretary and Native Commissioner as well. With so little money for administration, there was scarcely any at all for welfare or public works. To say that this was the age of Gladstone, and not of the Colonial Development and Welfare Act, cannot alter or excuse the facts of neglect. It is difficult, therefore, to accept Morrell's contention that the facts will vindicate the record of the missionaries and administrators.

The second of the two claims that Morrell makes for the book is that it is “centred, not in Downing Street, but in the islands”. In support of this, there is a useful introductory chapter on the island people of the Pacific, and the various sections of the book taken together provide a fairly comprehensive chronological account of the affairs of the different island groups. It is also the first general history to deal in any detail with the administrations set up in the islands after annexation. Yet the pattern of this book is essentially the same as earlier histories of the Pacific: its main concern is with the rivalry of European powers in exploration, trade, missionary endeavour, and the acquisition of territory. Boundaries of European influence are accepted as convenient divisions within which to treat these subjects. Of course one of the obvious difficulties of using any other pattern is that the source material for island histories is only now becoming available, and local histories based on this material must precede any new approach to the general history of the area. Morrell's book is as thorough a general history as the present state of historiography of the Pacific Islands allows.


University of Auckland

ROSE, R. J.: Maori-European Standards of Health. Issued by the Medical Statistics Branch of the New Zealand Department of Health. Wellington, Government Printer, 1960. 48 pp. Price 4s.

Significantly, the Department of Health opens its Special Report Series with a comparison of Maori and European standards of health. This is the first time the comparative standards have been critically examined statistically.

The general practice is to use the crude rate for measuring the decrease in population due to death. It is expressed for the total population as a proportion per 1,000, and for a specific disease as a proportion per 10,000 or 100,000. Since changes in population, and in the sex and age composition occur very slowly, the crude rate is valid for comparison between one year and another. But where significant differences exist in the age structures of two different populations, as well as in their numbers, the crude rate can - 514 be most misleading because mortality varies with age. The crude rate conceals this differential.

In 1958, the last year in the quinquennial period under examination, the Maori and European populations were 151,136 and 2,164,764 respectively. In the Maori population, minors (those under 21 years of age) outnumbered the adults by 50 per cent: in the European population minors equalled 66 per cent of the adult population. As the expectation of life at the age 0 in the period 1955-57 was 57 and 69 years for Maori and European males respectively, and 59 and 74 for females, the Maori numbers included fewer old people, some 5,000 Maoris as against 280,000 Europeans being 60 years of age or more. Obviously a population which contains a much higher proportion of old people will tend to have a higher crude death rate than a population which contains a greater proportion of young people.

To compare the death toll in the two races, by utilizing a single figure, it is necessary to adjust the Maori rate or the European rate to reduce the mortality rates to a common denominator. In this particular study, adjusted Maori death rates are extracted from a hypothetical population similar in all respects regarding age and sex structure to that of the European. These standardized or age-adjusted rates are fictional figures of the potential loss of life in a Maori population similar in composition to the European and therefore may be compared directly with the European crude rates. They thus represent the real trend of health in the Maori community as compared to that of the European. Greater depth is given to the analysis through the presentation of specific age rates.

Having explained the method, the report proceeds to apply this technique to the analysis of the total mortality situation and of various diseases classified in broadly related groups. In some cases the initial table is devoted to the over-all condition and the following tables give the rates for specific types of these diseases. Brief but pertinent comments accompany each table. An appendix deals with the mortality rates from 64 selected diseases, each with its international list number.

Although the standard of health of the Maori people has improved over the years, generally their mortality rates are much higher than those of the European. In the total death rate for the period 1954-58, the crude average rates of 9.1 per thousand of European population and of 9.5 for Maoris could be interpreted as near equivalence. Yet the adjusted rate for the Maori is 17.7—virtually double that of the European. An analysis of deaths into specific age rates gives the pattern of health between the two people. In the under 5 years group, more than three Maoris die proportionately to every European child. In the school group of 5-14, the Maori rate is three and a half times that of the European. Between 15 and 24 years the Maori male rate improves, being a little more than double the European, but the corresponding female rate rises to over four-fold. The tuberculosis table provides the answer to this. From 25 to 44 the Maori rate is treble that of the European, after which the excess of Maori deaths over the European declines. At all ages the mortality rate for Maori females as compared with the European is greater than the ratio between the males of the two categories.

While it is commonly known that the toll of infective and epidemic diseases is extremely high for Maoris, this analysis reveals most unexpectedly that Maoris are much more susceptible to death from one of the degenerative conditions (cancer, diabetes, cerebral vascular lesions, heart disease and chronic nephritis) than the European. These degenerative conditions tend to - 515 occur at an earlier age in the Maori than the European, which fact is hidden in the crude rates.

Though the mortality rate for all forms of tuberculosis continues to fall for both sexes, and the crude rates per hundred thousand are 8.9 for the European and 56.3 for the Maori, the adjusted Maori rate of 110.9 reveals the true character of this disease. While the male rate among Maoris is 10 times that among Europeans, the rate for Maori females is 18 times as great as that for European females. In general, the mortality rates among Maoris for the infective diseases are about 9 times those among Europeans, for all age groups. It follows that Maoris have a relatively heavy, unexpected toll of life in their middle and older age groups. Another drastic group of diseases among Maoris are those actute types of respiratory and gastro-intestinal complaints which take their worst toll on the very young and the very old.

Even the Maori accident rates are much higher than those of the European, the worst incidence being in the transport and domestic fields. In the latter sphere, the rates for very young children are serious. Maoris, however, are less prone to commit suicide.

Having considered whether the Maori people are any longer more susceptible constitutionally to disease than Europeans, the author indicates that many of the diseases to which the Maori is prone, are controllable. Positive health measures in the form of education, better housing, improvements in sanitation and higher living standards are required. Even the incidence of degenerative diseases could be reduced if Maoris were encouraged to recognise the first suspicious signs and seek medical aid more quickly. On all these points the author stresses the need for field work, the only study having been carried out by the present Director-General of Health, Dr. H. B. Turbott, in 1935.

This report is of the utmost importance to everybody concerned with the Maori people. In a welfare-state, more than any other, differentials in the mortality rates of its constituent peoples demand the attention of its administrators, educationalists, economists and health organizations. Apart from the ethical aspect, it is scarcely economic to have such wastage in an integral part of the population. The report unquestionably has much for those interested in the field of acculturation.

Mr. Rose is to be congratulated on this particular study, the need for which has been long overdue. Credit is due to Dr. Turbott for promoting this series of Special Health Reports. Doubtless the forthcoming publication, “The Loss of Infant Life in New Zealand,” is a further earnest of his concern about the two peoples.


University of Auckland

BÜHLER, Alfred, BARROW, Terry, and MOUNTFORD, Charles P.: Ozeanien und Australien: Die Kunst der Südsee. Baden-Baden, Holle Verlag, 1961. 266 pp., 62 colour plates, 94 line-drawings in text, 4 maps, 1 table. Price DM.—.

Those to whom the term ‘South Seas’ immediately suggests Polynesia will be misled by the subtitle of this book, and those for whom 'art' includes such fields as architecture, music and the dance will regret their omission; but it is nonetheless surprising to find that the scope of this work is as wide as it is. In his 190-page contribution Dr. Bühler deals succinctly—but not - 516 without some repetition, owing to the organisation of the material—with such diverse and complex problems as the peoples and cultures of Oceania, Pacific migrations, the position of the artist in primitive society, the esthetics of primitive art, and, ultimately, with the various style-provinces, relating these again, tentatively, to the question of the ‘Siedlungsgeschichte’ of Oceania.

With so much in such small compass it is hard to avoid the twin pitfalls of superficiality or dogmatism; but Dr. Bühler is conscious throughout of the gaps in our knowledge and is commendably cautious. Only on the question of the position of the artist in a fully functioning native society does he allow himself to extrapolate from his wide experience of many parts of Melanesia to the whole of Melanesia, and in this case it is probably too late to prove him, except in small details, right or wrong. He reiterates his basic contention that art can be adequately studied only in its cultural setting. It is perhaps ironical that this view should come to be universally accepted at a time when it is becoming increasingly difficult to carry it out in practice; and it is even more ironical that this book should be, in view of its fine colour plates and line-drawings, such an excellent contribution to the ‘museum’ study of art.

Dr. Barrow's short (17-page) essay on the art of Maori New Zealand is an attempt to place Maori art within its Polynesian setting; it follows, on a smaller scale, the plan of Dr. Bühler's contribution: ecology, history, position of the artist, motifs—including the ‘bird-man’ interpretation of the controversial manaia-figures—and styles. It is, however, unfortunate that the scope of the book as a whole allowed only 7 plates from this most significant area of Polynesian plastic art.

Australia fares worse, with only 6 plates; and although Mr. Mountford's essay is slightly longer, the material is less well organised: the techniques of rock engravings, for instance, are described twice over in a matter of some six pages. It is also not helpful to be told, for example, that ‘All natives are natural artists’ (p. 230). ‘Wondschina’ is the spelling used for ‘wandjina’ or ‘wondjina’, but there seems no good linguistic reason why one of the better-known spellings should not have been retained even in a German translation.

In view of the sketchiness of the New Zealand and Australian material, it might have been better if—along with the Torres Strait Islands, which have fared badly: there is not even a line-drawing of any sort from there, and the index omits to refer to the main section on them—they could have been given a separate volume in the Kunst der Welt series, and the present volume devoted simply to Melanesia. But in spite of the Melanesian bias—and, within Melanesia, a Sepik bias, since Bühler claims, not without justification, that the Sepik-Ramu area is the most important art-centre of Oceania—the volume as it stands remains an impressive document. The 62 tipped-in plates are, as far as one can judge, faithful reproductions; and they are well supplemented by the 94 line-drawings. The apparatus is impressive: explanation of technical terms, selective bibliography, index, list of plates, illustrations and sources of objects depicted. Both specialists and amateurs will find this a useful book to have on their shelves.


Australian National University

- 517

VAYDA, A. P.: Maori Warfare. Wellington, The Polynesian Society, Maori Monographs, No. 2. 1960. x + 141 pp. Price (N.Z.) £1/1/-

Anyone who knows the literature on “primitive” warfare knows that man's dearest political pastime is the least well documented of his activities. There exist scarcely a handful of good articles, some description in travellers' books, a book by Turney-High (a Frazerian catalogue under headings provided by the U.S. Cavalry Manual) and books by sociologists, historians and philosophers (most of them of dubious value for anthropologists).

Writing on the subject involves difficulties beyond the meagreness of the tradition. Not least are matters of definition: When is fighting war? When feud? When a mere brawl? Does one study the function of war? The relationship of social structure and economic activity to characteristic types of warfare? Or does one stick to specific activities and problems such as logistics and tactics? Most serious of all: warfare is the major moral problem of the twentieth century. It is difficult to acquire any sense of disengagement toward it.

The profession is fortunate in that Dr. Vayda, of Columbia University, has decided to go into warfare. The present monograph—far and away the best anthropological study of warfare—promises to be the first of several. Vayda mentions in his preface, as well as in his last paragraph, that he is preparing a wider study of Polynesian warfare. He has recently received foundation support for further studies in warfare among shifting cultivators. The present book is an admirable summary of what the author considers to be a “coherent and fairly well documented” case history. Maori warfare is set into its geographical and demographical surroundings; then the author focuses on the activity of war itself, with good sections on all aspects—fortification, tactics, leadership and discipline, mobilization, training, commissariat (with a good short section on cannibalism), duration, pursuit, prisoners, and peace-making, among many others.

Since the quality of this monograph is so fine, it is well to note in this context some of the things its author does not undertake. Warfare, as we all know, is one of the two basic political activities. The other is law. To analyze warfare separately from political organization and law, therefore, is to isolate it to a degree. Except for a good section on conquest and one on the “advantages” of warfare, Vayda has seen fit to view warfare as more or less detached from the rest of the political process. This is not a criticism of his book, but a statement of what I believe the ultimate requirements of the subject to be. Warfare is no mere substitute for legal proceedings—or vice versa, as Dean Pound suggests. It is one of the universals. We must learn something about the relationship between the character of warfare and the political and economic institutionalization of the society that practises it. A great deal of such information is made available here for the Maori. It is to be hoped that Vayda's future researches will allow him, or others, to carry forward some of the matters he has here so painstakingly particularized.

Vayda's book is well written and well indexed. The list of works cited is long and seems to this reviewer, who pleads ignorant of the niceties of Polynesian bibliography, to be exhaustive.


Northwestern University, Evanston, III.