Come on Shore and We Will Kill and Eat You All: A New Zealand Story

Come on Shore and We Will Kill and Eat You All: A New Zealand Story

by Christina Thompson

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A beautifully written, fiercely intelligent and boldly conceived book that puts the author's unlikely marriage to a Maori man into the context of the history of Western colonization of New Zealand and the South Pacific.

Come on Shore and We Will Kill and Eat You All is the story of the cultural collision between Westerners and the Maoris of New Zealand, told partly as a history of the complex and bloody period of contact between Europeans and the Maoris in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, and partly as the story of Christina Thompson's marriage to a Maori man.

As an American graduate student studying history in Australia, Thompson traveled to New Zealand and met a Maori known as "Seven." Their relationship is one of opposites: he is a tradesman, she is an intellectual; he comes from a background of rural poverty, she from one of middleclass privilege; he is a "native," she descends directly from "colonizers." Nevertheless, they shared a similar sense of adventure and a willingness to depart from the customs of their families and forge a life together on their own.

In this book, which grows out of decades of reading and research, Thompson explores cultural displacement through the ages and the fascinating history of Europeans in the South Pacific, beginning with Abel Tasman's discovery of New Zealand in 1642 and Cook's circumnavigation of 1770. Transporting us back and forth in time and around the world, from Australia to Hawaii to tribal New Zealand and finally to a house in New England that has ghosts of its own, Come on Shore brings to life a lush variety of characters and settings. Yet at its core, it is the story of two people who meet, fall in love, and are forever changed.

"A multilayered, highly informative and insightful book that blends memoir, historical and travel narrative...vivid and meticulously researched."--San Francisco Chronicle

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781608196388
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Publication date: 11/01/2010
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 272,341
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

Christina Thompson is the editor of Harvard Review. Her essays and articles have appeared in numerous journals, including American Scholar, the Journal of Pacific History, Australian Literary Studies, and in the 1999, 2000, and 2006 editions of Best Australian Essays. She lives near Boston with her family.
Christina Thompson was born in Switzerland in 1959 and grew up in a suburb of Boston. In 1984 she received an ITT International Fellowship from the Institute of International Education in New York. She also received a fellowship for graduate study at the Univesity of Melbourne, where she later did a PhD. She is author of numerous essays, stories and reviews, and her work has appeared in literary and scholarly journals. In 1998, Christina and her family returned to the United States after a decade in Australia. She is currently editor of the Harvard Review.

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Come On Shore and We Will Kill and Eat You All: A New Zealand Story 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 20 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Based on great historical research and documentation, yet a personalized candid story of a modern gutsy and rather unconventional young woman,
ms.c.earthsci on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. I am planning to visit New Zealand next year and had no idea of the history of the people there. Reading "Come on Shore" helped me understand NZ history and culture better and was easy to read. The basic story is that of an American woman who travels round Australia and New Zealand while writing her doctoral thesis and meets and falls in love with a Maori man. Their ensuing marriage brings to light many of the cultural differences between Western culture and other cultures who are seen as disorganized or indifferent, In reality our way of life is less natural and more constrictive than that of the Maori and Polynesian cultures and there are hilarious moments in the book where the author's boyfriend ( and later husband) just doesn't understand what all the fuss is about when not following the expected daily routines when he comes to live in the States.
birdmaddgirl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
i started this book in the boston airport and finished it in the cancun airport. well-paced, engaging, thoughtful. thompson tells the story of her love for new zealand and the maori man who became her husband, but this is not a love memoir. it's the story of cultures interacting, of the history and future of new zealand, and of the consequences of colonialism. highly recommended reading.
LauraBrook on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
When I pick up a travel book, there are always a few expectations - funny language miscommunications, getting lost, discovering new things about yourself - that I look forward too. This book has all of these elements, but it also has a wonderful thing that I wasn't expecting. Mixed into Christina's life experience, there is a wonderful history of the Maoris and New Zealand. It made reading slightly less smooth (not necessarily a bad thing), and it added more depth to her story. In fact, it's unlike any other travel book I've read. It's like a cousin to the typical travel lit book. Her writing and use of language is a pleasure, and the way that she simultaneously points out and embraces cultural differences is thought-provoking and comforting. Having always had a fascination with Australia, Tasmania, and New Zealand, it was truly enjoyable to learn a little more about the history of the countries. I'd highly recommend this book if you're looking for armchair travel with a bit of learning thrown into the mix. Christina Thompson has a new fan!
Dannelke on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A wonderful blend of travelogue, maritime history and cross -cultural polination. I've seen a couple of reviews of this title that complained about being whip-sawed a bit between the past and present but in my opinion such reviews entirely miss the point of the author's approach. Mainly that the past is always with us and colors our interactions and perceptions and the more mindful we are of the past the more we are equipped to better understand the experiences of the moment.Anyone who appreciates the writing of John McPhee or Simon Winchester will find much to admire here.
madhatter22 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Come on Shore and We Will Kill and Eat You All is part memoir, part travel narrative, part history, part anthropology. Some of these parts work better than others. I really enjoyed the sections of the book that dealt with early contact between Maoris and Europeans, and with the results of the two cultures coming together. I'm part Hawaiian, and I found the parallels between the arrival of Europeans in New Zealand and in Hawaii interesting, as well as the discussion of the settling of the various Polynesian islands.I enjoyed reading the author's first impressions of the Maori village her husband grew up in, its inhabitants, and the differences between her culture and theirs, but I found myself wishing for more history, and less memoir. The descriptions of their moves from city to city and inadequate apartment to inadequate apartment seemed like filler, and the author's wondering what everything meant got repetitive. (One place in the memoir where I would have liked a little more description was when she met her future husband. She sees him and gives a few sentences on his appearance and their brief conversation, he invites her to leave with him after she misses her bus, they go to a party where he isn't mentioned, she wakes up the next day, and suddenly they're living together in a shack by the beach, without ever a word about any attraction to or feelings for him. I had to go back to see if I'd missed something.)Overall this was an enjoyable book. If Christina Thompson ever writes a book that's strictly history, done in this same engaging, non-academic style, I'd love to read it.
labfs39 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I began reading this book, not knowing what to expect. The title was a bit off-putting, and I had read a review that warned readers off in no uncertain terms. But from the prologue on, I found the book to be engaging and a wonderful read. The history of the Maori people and the colonization of New Zealand by the Europeans was exotic and yet very familiar to a New Englander raised on tales of hardy settlers versus the noble but warlike "Indians". I felt a special affinity for the author's experience having spent many years as a graduate student in history myself, and I admired her ability to reflect about herself as clearmindedly as she did about 17th century seafaring encounters. She makes of her own life a case study in cross-cultural first contact and understanding. The drawback to this detached style, however, is that there is little romance on which to envision how two people from such different cultures could make a life together for over twenty years. I was left wondering about the inner lives of the people involved, not just the prototypes that they represent. This book is not a memoir of a woman and her Maori husband; it is a anthropological study on the crash of cultures and the tidal lands where they intersect.
Periodista on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The premise, the set-up, is promising but ends up unsatisfying on all counts. Too fragmented, unfocused. American academic marries working-class Maori man. At the time she met her future husband, Thompson was briefly stopping over in the Bay of Islands, north of North Island, while studying for a PhD in literature in Melbourne, Australia. She meets Seven in a pub, where a fight breaks out, and then very late at night traipses back with him to a house soon filled with drunken, then sleeping Maori. There's very little interaction with Seven here but she possibly makes a terrible faux pas in spontaneously offering an earring to one man. You wonder, too, what Seven's family makes of it when this white woman quickly decamps with Seven to live with him on a beach for a week (no intimate details disclosed). Funny thing is, you never find out! For example, do Maori (like, say, Thai and so many other peoples) perceive Western women as very sexually loose, prone to sleeping with any man they talk to for more than ten minutes? What is the sex and marriage code for Maori women? How are inter-marriages with Pakeha regarded? Is an American preferable to a white Kiwi? Are all Maori pretty much Christian? Nominally anyway?Then there¿s the matter that Thompson was originally drawn to study in Australia because of her interest in colonial narratives of exploration. Very old fashioned, in the mid-1980s and now. At least she¿s not into deconstructionism, etc.,-- her writing is fine -- but I¿m not sure how far she got into exploding the myths, what her research focus was or is, or how much she delved into native perceptions and accounts of the conqueror. Is it even possible? How much material is there? She just glances off all these topics.Ditto she very briefly touches on the issue of an American and a Maori living in Australia. In a way, they¿re on equal terms, both trying to figure out the byways of a strange land. Neither is obliged to defend certain Aussie behavior. We get a racist Aussie (I think this was Brisbane) telling Seven about the degeneracy of Aborigines. What does he make out of this? Isn't Melbourne a pot of many cultures by this time> Or for that matter of Hawaii (where the couple lived on a fellowship of some sort), Mass., or any other parts of the US vis a via Oz or NZ. Nothing at all!Ditto this is *not* your intro to New Zealand conquest and settlement a la The Fatal Shore, although there is a bibliography and Thompson¿s recommendations that could point you there. I already knew that New Zealanders usually gloss over how much Maori were screwed over, probably because the Maori are more likely to pull themselves into the middle-class, whitish world than Oz¿s aboriginal people. I recall that Michael Dorris quickly came to that conclusion. All the indices of education, income, alcoholism, etc. are quite bad. But this is only skimmed as well. I kept asking myself: Who is she writing this book for?Then you¿ve got the PhD married to a manual laborer that doesn¿t have any interest in pulling himself up and out. That¿s not quite correct; she mentions that, with her encouragement, he did take some community college-type courses. But I don¿t know how interested he was or why. Could be just to satisfy her. You really get very little sense of Seven's personality, except that he's very easy-going and generous. You wonder how his and her colleagues in Australia and the US all got along. Does the couple lead separate lives some of the time? (Might be better for a male spouse than a female spouse at a faculty party; men of any class can always talk sports.)This aspect is touched on even less. What about their three sons? Of course, she¿d assume they¿d all go on to university, but her husband¿s attitudes could come into play. Finally, we end up with a quickie tour of Thompson¿s family to find that they could be stand-ins for the British in NZ because they swindled Native Americans and made a very good long-term profits from the landholdi
meggyweg on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a book that doesn't seem to know what it wants to me. Christina Thompson has a PhD in English and the book definitely has a literary style, but the topic is more historical/anthropological. Certainly it's part memoir also, but I think the majority of page space is taken up by her history of the Maori people. Then at the end she throws in a history of her own white American relatives and the white settlers' obliteration of the Native American tribes. I understand we're meant to draw a parallel between that and the Maori history of colonial exploitation, but it really didn't belong.The memoir parts of the book seemed quite insubstantial to me. I couldn't get a sense of how she was feeling at different parts of the story, and her husband had no personality at all. She seemed to drift into cohabitation and marriage with him much the same way she drifted randomly into the bar where they met. Obviously she loves the guy -- they've been married twenty years, moved back and forth across the equator innumerable times, have three kids, yada yada -- but I don't get any sense of their love. She seems to focus much more on how little she and her husband have in common, in terms of appearance, family background, cultural heritage, education, interests...Possibly I am being overcritical. I don't think this was a bad book. In fact I really enjoyed reading it and learning about a people I previously knew little of. I just think it needed a lot more focus, mainly.
Sean191 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I have mixed emotions with this book. I think it was interesting - but I think it was too scholarly and there wasn't as much personal emotion invested in it. That's disappointing considering it could have been so much more. I feel the author's husband is someone I would have enjoyed reading more about - even the children. But, maybe there was too much trying to be squeezed into the book - crossing back and forth between historical anecdotes and familial (much like the crossing back and forth between new and old homes) left too much ground to cover and not enough time to do it.
LeesyLou on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Christina Thompson is a lyrical, thoughtful writer with a background in English literature. The pity is, she has nothing compelling to say. This memoir of her life to date discusses her marriage to a Maori New Zealand native and her family's moves through the mainland US, Hawai'i, Australia, and New Zealand, but never really offers more than that. She gives a bit of European New Zealand discovery history, discusses her own feelings about it, and rarely truly delves into the Maori experience. In fact, in her foreword, she explicitly states that since her husband's family's story is not hers to tell, she has made a point in this volume of generalizing their stories and changing names.If you are looking for a quick beach read or a book about an American woman's experience with a young family, this is a pleasant enough book. If you are searching for depth on minority aboriginal history, culture, and experience, look elsewhere.
literarysarah on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Christina Thompson has written a thoughtful memoir about her marriage to a Maori man and their efforts to understand each other as well as their extended families despite their cultural differences. As a scholar who has spent many years studying the South Pacific, Thompson brings a larger historical perspective to the story by describing some of the early encounters between Europeans and Maoris. The result is a charming and very readable examination of her experiences and her thoughts on her children's legacy. Cross-cultural marriages are not uncommon, but such well considered and well written studies of the roots and implications of cultural differences are rare indeed.
leebot on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
My husband and I have twice visited New Zealand -- one of our favorite places to travel, so I am always interested in reading about the country from a variety of perspectives and this book did not disappoint. It is, as the sub-title suggests -- "A New Zealand story" -- which I interpret as one of the many many stories New Zealand has to offer, and I loved reading more about some of the places we've visited. The author's writing style is skillful and a delight to read.At the beginning of the story, the author meets a Maori man, Seven, who later becomes her husband. Her bond with him and his family prompts her to expand her academic research into the history of the Maori culture and the colonization of New Zealand. She interweaves historical and anthropological perspectives into her own personal history, finding symbolic similarities in how disparate cultures engage or clash with her own experience navigating a marriage with someone from a very different culture. The author seems very sanguine about some of these differences -- for example, she believes in buying life insurance whereas he believes such an action would be "asking for it." What struck me in particular was the insights the author gained from her own experiences. For instance, at the beginning of the story, she talks about her first impressions and assumptions about a bar fight she witnesses, and how quickly she discovered that she had completely misread the situation. Toward the end of the book, she realizes that she needs to understand her own family's history to help complete the circle -- and indeed, she was unstinting in drawing parallels between the role her own ancestors played in the subjugation of the American Indian population to that of the devastating effects of white colonization on the Maori people. I suppose every reader will feel that something or other has been left out; indeed, with such a richly woven tapestry as this story is, there will undoubtedly be some oversights. For me, I was surprised not to see much mention of some of the more recent developments in the ongoing Maori-Pakeha story. Perhaps that will appear in a sequel.
phinz on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Christina Thompson takes all of her research into the history of New Zealand and mixes it up in a pot with all of her personal experience of her marriage to Seven, a Maori man. What she cooks up for us is a wonderful tale of the decline of the Maori dynasty in New Zealand and its reasons, the rise of Colonialism in New Zealand and a better understanding of how and why many events took place during this period. Jumping back and forth between the past and the present, Thompson kept me interested the entire time, wondering what was to come next. Her exposition of her own family's history was a glorious icing on the cake. I couldn't put this book down and found myself wanting to read more about New Zealand, a country as far removed and mysterious to me as my country is close and familiar. Highly recommended for one who loves memoirs with history and humor mixed in.
lollypop917 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I received this book through the first reads program at and will have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed it. This book looks at the effects of colonization as seen through both the colonizers and the natives. The author looks at this subject through her relationship with her Maori husband and takes the reader on a journey through the past and present. Through her fascination with New Zealand's native Maori's we learn a good deal about the culture itself. I really enjoyed her use of historical references for the first meeting of the Maori's with the Dutch seafarer Abel Tasman. She continues to employ this method of describing the past through references which works very well in my opinion. The entire book weaves from past to present giving details of the Maori's culture to explain cross-cultural differences between her husband and herself in current circumstances. I would recommend this book to all lovers of history, anthropology, as well as anyone who enjoys reading about New Zealand.
michaelm42071 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Finishing a Ph.D. in Pacific literature at the University of Melbourne, twenty-something Christina Thompson takes a travel agent¿s suggestion she spend a week in the Bay of Islands, at the northern end of New Zealand¿s North Island. There she meets a Maori man, accompanies him to his village and meets his family, invites him to come to Melbourne, and eventually marries him.This antipodal romance (she is from Boston) is juxtaposed here with an account of the first contacts between Europeans and Maoris. The title of the book is Darwin¿s version of what John Hawkesworth said that Captain James Cook said a Maori shouted at him when he first approached New Zealand. Thompson notes how the difficulties inherent in first contacts were not made easier by the sudden violence that frequently erupted on one side or the other.As their children are born, Thompson and her husband move from Melbourne to Boston, to Hawai¿i, back to Australia, and finally to Boston again, where they settle in to help her mother and ailing father in an extended family arrangement not unlike that of the household in which her husband grew up in Mangonui, New Zealand. The trans-Pacific travel enables Thompson to pursue her career of scholar, editor, and writer. And as she and her husband move in and out of each other¿s parts of the world, she compares her own experiences with his, her family¿s with those of his. She observes wryly that her family¿s comparative wealth came at the cost of dispossession of New England native populations in colonial times; her husband¿s family¿s poverty was caused by being on the other side of such a dispossession.A literary person with the eye of an ethnographer, Thompson, who is editor of Harvard Review, tells her own story and that of New Zealand with style and clarity, letting each illuminate the other.
kphillip9 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Who would not want to read this book after reading the title? As other reviewers have mentioned, I was hoping to receive more background information on New Zealand. That way, I could have hopefully envisioned the environment a little better. It also would have added to the storyline a great deal. However, the story dives into Christina's relationship with a Maori man, while she has missed a flight back home. The idea is romantic, but I did not think that the writing was that interesting. I really wanted to enjoy this book, but the author tended to give too much time to some of the lesser details in the memoir. It was a good read, but unfortunately, a little slow.
undeadgoat on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I started reading this book in the middle of a hectic semester, so took a long time to finish it; probably I should have sat down an read it all at once to do a proper review. I personally found the book fascinating, both as a memoir and as a story of New Zealand. I have a personal fascination with the Pacific and with New Zealand in general (why I requested the book), and unlike a lot of other reviewers really enjoyed the structure--sort of an intellectual digression, a journey of the mind. Like many travel books, personal experience and intellectual research inspire each other; however, unlike a travel book, the framing story is of a life, not a journey. This book is not necessarily for everyone, but it is definitely for people like me, who enjoy books about many facets of a place, other people's struggles with "white guilt", and selected bibliographies.
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