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Photo: Penguin Books


Auckland, New Zealand. June 1886. The gold rush is over, and the stock market has crashed. The strange disturbances on the lake are seen as another bad omen.

Gottfried Lindauer, the Bohemian painter, is about to sail to England. He’s just begun work on a painting of the Ngati Wai rangatira Paratene Te Manu when into his studio walks Paratene himself. Hearing of Lindauer’s planned trip to England reminds Paratene of his own journey there in 1863 with a party of Northern rangatira.

Over the next three days, as he sits for Lindauer, Paratene retreats deeper and deeper into the past, from the triumphant meetings with royalty and aristocracy to the disintegration of the trip into estrangement, poverty, and mistrust.