If you aren’t familiar with Elsdon Best, all you need to know is that he’s a ethnologist who studied the Tuhoe people and codified a great deal of their oral history. He’s also thought to have been a little proprietary with their information, so he remains a somewhat controversial character.

Anyhow, one of his books is Māori Religion and Mythology. I collected the two volume set in hardback maybe 15years ago with nary a glance, placed them on a shelf, then in a box, then on a shelf and have hardly looked at them for years.

So my aunty is visiting from Auckland, and she’s interested in my collection of books on mythology, and takes down the Best. And is consequently a little surprised. Because this is the cover:

She asks, “what kind of ritual was that?”