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Washday at the pa

Washday at the pa is the controversial 1964 non-fiction book by Ans Westra that showed a day in the lives of 'a rural Māori family with nine children', originally published by the then School Publications Branch of the Department of Education, and printed by the Government Printer. It was withdrawn after concerns voiced by the Māori Women's Welfare League that it [1] would have a 'detrimental effect' on Māori people, and [2] for any Māori, the living conditions were atypical. The subsequent August 1964 order by the Minister of Education caused an uproar -- all copies in schools were recalled and shredded, as were all unsold copies in the Government Bookshops chain.

Freed from the constraints of being published as part of the Primary School Bulletin series, Westra as the copyright holder had the book republished by the Caxton Press of Christchurch. This second edition uses more colloquial language and shows taboo subjects such as children pretending to smoke. Notably, however, the photograph of the house present in the Government Printer edition was omitted.

In both editions, the family used aliases and were said to live near Taihape, but in truth lived near Ruatoria.

External links

  • Washday at the pa by Ans Westra (Caxton Press, 1964), in particular the enclosed publisher's note (no ISBNs).
  • Washday at the pa by Ans Westra (Government Printer, 1964) (no ISBNs).

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