Tama, a young Maori man who works as a clerk in Wellington, receives word that his father has died. He flies home to northern New Zealand, participates with his mother and siblings in his father's wake and funeral, then returns to Wellington to collect his belongings. As the eldest son, he is now responsible for the family and must return to the family farm. The story begins on the morning that Tama catches the train to Wellington; the events of the preceding week flash back and forward through his consciousness during the long, lonely railroad trip.


This 1973 novel was one of the first works of fiction ever published by a Maori writer. Although the book utilizes a fairly complex stream-of-consciousness technique, the story is very simple. As he returns from the funeral, a young man examines his relationships with his family and dead father. He unquestioningly affirms the concept of family solidarity and his organic relationship with the land. This edition also contains Whanau, Ihimaera's second novel, which deals with the clash between Maori and Pakeha (white) values in a rural family.


First published: 1973

Primary Source

Tangi & Whanau


Secker & Warburg

Place Published

Auckland, New Zealand



Page Count