The Darling North, by Anne Kennedy (Auckland University Press, 2012), 87 pp., $24.99.
‘Ah! Those good old times, when I first came to New Zealand, we shall never see their like again. Since then the world seems to have gone wrong somehow. A dull sort of world this now.’ With these words, Frederick Maning opens his 1863 publication, ‘Old New Zealand’. His account of scenes and incidents is given, he claims, ‘exactly as they occurred’. His writings ‘owe nothing to fiction.’ Anne Kennedy on the other hand, who acknowledges Maning as a source for her new work, makes no such disclaimer. She seems delighted to plunge once again into the heart of fiction. Yet, even as she does so, she’s re-presenting ‘facts’, the kind of things we thought we knew as islanders living among other islanders all on our own little islands in the big bath tub of the Pacific.