We got sent the Magic and Makutu book by David Hair to review a while ago, but it’s the sixth in the Aotearoa Series so I felt that I should read the preceeding five books to fully appreciate Magic and Makutu.

The series starts with The Bone Tiki which won best new book at the New Zealand Post Children’s Book awards in 2010. It begins with Matiu Douglas, who after stealing a bone tiki, discovers Aotearoa – a parallel world populated by people who have died but have a strong tie to the land. Suddenly Matiu is running for his life, not knowing who to trust.

A quick summary of the other books is below.

The Taniwha’s Tears: Matiu is drawn into Waikarimoana and is on a mission to rescue a taniwha.

The Lost Tohunga: Matiu and his friends rescue Tohunga (warlocks) trapped by Puarata in Te Iho (the Heart).

Justice and Utu: Matiu’s father is a lawyer and is engaged to defend Donna Kyle, one of Aotearoa’s most evil witches. Donna escapes and Matiu with his friends are drawn into a manhunt to bring her to justice.

Ghosts of Pariahaka: The shame of Parihaka means that the events repeat annually and somehow, Matiu’s friend Riki is captured and with the Parihaka protesters is transported towards Dunedin. Meanwhile, Matiu is ruthlessly pursued by the goddess of death with marriage proposals.

Magic and Makutu: While ‘The Bone Tiki’ won a children’s book award, Magic and Makutu isn’t a children’s book. It’s dark, people die, and much of the book wrestles with what love is as it builds to a dramatic conclusion. Predominantly set in Wellington the book is a fitting and suitable conclusion to a great series.

I’m liking

I loved reading a fantasy series, set in New Zealand, using Maori mythology as an inspiration and happily using Te Reo. The books are populated by characters familiar to kiwis: Honi Heke, Rob Maldoon, Catherine Mansfield, the Warriors League Team and Richard Pearse to name a few. The New Zealand he describes is totally familiar and I totally enjoyed visualising a country I know as the characters travelled through Aotearoa.

Things that made me go hmmmm

The only criticism is that the paper copy of Magic and Makutu had some typographical errors. Everything else was great.

The conclusion

The fantasy world David has created is coherent and believable, it’s comparable in scale and scope to Andre Norton’s witch world series which, coming from me, is high praise. I especially loved the concept of how the parallel world Aotearoa as a concept was cemented by the signing of the treaty of Waitangi. So the Makutu Tohunga (evil warlock) stealing the treaty to destroy it and bring around total war was an interesting storyline.


Rochelle is mum to three gorgeous daughters. She wishes she had more time to garden and read the newspaper in peace!

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