I am the Māori Jesus

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Resource Pack for: I am the Māori Jesus, by Ben Brown

Created by Laura Borrowdale

Context

James K. Baxter, one of New Zealand’s best known and most controversial poets, wrote ‘The Maori Jesus’ in the years before he founded his commune known as Jerusalem. His writing was heavily influenced by his strong Catholic faith and his fascination with Māori culture, both of which are reflected in this poem.

Today, we might query a pākehā poet writing about Māori in this way. To some extent, it romanticises the idea of being Māori, and in other ways reinforces negative stereotypes that are commonly held about Māori. Ben Brown is a Maori poet (Ngāti Paoa, Ngāti Mahuta) who lives in Lyttelton, Banks Peninsula in the South Island. He wrote a response to Baxter’s poem called “I am the Māori Jesus”. Brown often writes about the experience of urban Māori, particularly from a young male perspective.

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