This study brings together three closely related aspects of Maori literature – myth, memory and identity. It examines selected novels by Witi Ihimaera and Patricia Grace in order to trace an ever-developing Maori identity that has changed considerably over three decades of the Maori novel. This book demonstrates that an investigation of the construction of identity in literature benefits from a close look at the importance of Maori mythology as well as associated cultural and individual memories.
Indicating that Maori fiction has become what Homi Bhabha terms a third space, this book verifies the links between novel, myth and memory with the help of existing research in these areas in order to assess their importance for the reinterpretation of identity. The Maori novels that depict situations reflecting current issues are viewed as an experimental playground in which authors can explore a variety of solutions to tribal, societal and political issues. This study establishes the early novels as reinterpretations of the past and guides to the future, and characterises the more recent novels as representing a move towards empowerment and pioneering that has not yet come to a conclusion.