Author(s): John Newton
'When Maori and Pakeha do these things together the double rainbow begins to shine.' In 1969, New Zealand's best-known poet, James K. Baxter, moved to Jerusalem on the Whanganui River and established an intentional community under the mana of the local hapu, Ngati Hau. The Jerusalem commune proved a magnet for disaffected and damaged young people. As the setting for Baxter's celebrated late works, Jerusalem Sonnets, Jerusalem Daybook and Autumn Testament, it quickly became the country's most famous hippie community, as well as a media byword for the idealism and excess of the emerging youth culture. But what was life really like at Jerusalem, beyond the popular stereotypes? And what did it mean, for Ngati Hau, to be deluged with long-haired strangers and with the media attention which followed them?
Here, for the first time, events are reconstructed from the point of view of James K. Baxter's followers and of the local people who accepted them. The story told in this book is unique: nowhere else has a Pakeha community submitted so comprehensively to the authority and generosity of a Maori one. The events described are exceptional in our nation's colonial history. But they also convey an image of what a bicultural Aotearoa might yet become. The true story of the Jerusalem commune is Baxter's undiscovered masterpiece. Now this scrupulous and evocative book allows us to read and to begin to interpret it. First published April 2009.
John Newton was born in Blenheim in 1959 and grew up on a sheep farm at Port Underwood in the Marlborough Sounds. A poet and critic, he taught for two years in the English Department at Melbourne, and from 1995 to 2008 in the English Department at the University of Canterbury. He now lives in Wellington.