February 20, 2014
Writer straddled cultural border
With the film Utu in cinemas again, the Turnbull Gallery in Wellington is mounting an exhibition about the man whose writing inspired it.
Ariana Tikao, the curator of Borderland: The world of James Cowan, says the Alexander Turnbull Library recently acquired papers and photos connected with the writer.
Cowan wrote extensively on New Zealand and Maori history before his death in 1943, and his story A Bush Court Martial was cited by Geoff Murphy as the genesis for the 1983 film, Utu.
Tikao says her interest in Cowan started with a book he wrote based on interviews with her great-grandfather, Hone Taare Tikao, called Maori Folk-tales of the Port Hills.
There is a symposium tomorrow at the National Library about Cowan co-hosted by the Alexander Turnbull Library and Otago University’s Centre for Colonial Studies.
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