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This article is taken from PN Review 105, Volume 22 Number 1, September - October 1995.

Theory: An Excursion to a New Jerusalem John Needham

For the hundredth time, it seems, since we left the main highway, the switchback road reaches the top of a hill then veers abruptly into a steep descent; but this time the trees on the shoulder thin out, and down below we catch our first glimpse of the church, standing on a slope above the river. Though the road is scarcely wider than the car, we stop to look. The river in front of the church seems as broad as a lake; above it rises an amphitheatre of rugged bush-covered hills. Scattered round it are perhaps a score of houses; some of them, we find later, are in rather poor repair, but from here they all seem idyllic, looking out from amongst the trees; and the weatherboard church itself, its bronze-painted spire glittering faintly in the sun and a gleam on its pale-gold walls, might be made of precious metals. So this is Jerusalem - in Maori, Hiruharama. It seems a fitting location for today's theoretical project - resurrection (or, at least, a query about 'the death of the author').

Driving on we come upon a man with a bulging supermarket bag standing in front of a crude roadside shelter. Inside there are other figures, keeping to the shadows. The man outside is rather dusty and fat, but has the leonine look you often see in older Maori men; square jaw and brow, thick mane of greying hair, and the lion's tawny eye, looking straight at you, ...


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