My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Bend with the Wind is set on New Zealand and weaves a story around the Maori people and their struggle for survival under White rule, over a period of just under 130 years.
We meet Sophie first at a Maori funeral. Then the story steps back thirty years to a time when Sophie was just nineteen years old and setting out to study a course in History about New Zealand and South Africa. This coincides with a planned rugby tour by the Springboks which is causing widespread protest due to the apartheid in South Africa.
Sophie and her friends are white teenagers and she has had a privileged upbringing. She meets Joe a Maori police officer. Joe introduces her to his family and through her college course she learns of the settler disagreements which took place in the 1800’s and of the Maori leaders in those disputes Te Whiti and Tohu who preached peace and fair sharing of the land.
Their mixed race relationship causes plenty of hardships and these are mixed with the parts that both play in the Springbok tour. It was a harrowing time for many involved and their relationship is stretched to breaking point many times.
This is a very powerful book full of very strong emotions and humbling lessons. Throughout the book the chapters are interspersed with the Maori language, some of which the reader can guess at, but I was pleased to find a Maori translation section at the back of the book. The messages in their words are beautiful and their traditions are uplifting. I shed a tear or two at the final funeral send off in this lovely book.
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