Kāwai: For Such a Time as This

Book Author Monty Soutar
Rights Available World excl. NZ

This is a story of a period in NZ history that has never been told . . . It’s 1980 and a young Māori man is compelled to return to his marae on the east coast of the North Island of New Zealand to learn about his family history. What follows is a fascinating insight into life in Aotearoa before the white man arrived as the young man’s elderly grand-uncle recounts the story of their ancestor, the fearsome warrior chief Kaitanga.

We first encounter Kaitanga’s father Tāwae as he awakens on a battlefield in 1734 AD, buried under a pile of corpses. Miraculously, he escapes being slain, dismembered and eaten by his enemies, though his father and uncles are not so fortunate. It is this battle that defines the future for a people whose need for retribution to assuage their grief infects multiple generations to follow.

The young chief Tāwae returns to a broken tribe, and it is his job to rebuild the strength and the fighting spirit of his people. We follow their first-born son Kaitanga as he trains hard to become one of the most incredible warriors in Māori history.

Kāwai: For Such a Time as This is not just a story of family and tribal warfare, it is also a story of love, of friendship, of a proud and resilient people who have developed a sophisticated way of living in harmony with the Gods and with the land.

About the Author
Dr. Monty Soutar (Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Awa, Ngāi Tai ki Tāmaki, Ngāti Kahungunu) has worked as a Senior Historian for the Ministry of Culture and Heritage, Director of the Tairāwhiti Museum in Gisborne and as the World War One Historian in Residence at Auckland War Memorial Museum. In 2015 he was awarded the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to Māori and historical research. He continues to serve on the Waitangi Tribunal.

Dr Soutar is the author of Whītiki Whiti Whiti E! Māori in the First World War and Nga Tama Toa: The Price of Citizenship: C Company 28 (Māori Battalion 1939–1945). In 2021 he was awarded the Creative New Zealand Michael King Writer’s Fellowship to write the Kawai series. Monty lives in Gisborne with his wife and youngest daughter.


Bateman Books


234 x 153mm

Hardback and Paperback



Publication Date
September 2022

Rights Available:
World excl. NZ

Rights Agents:


Paul Bateman, David Bateman Ltd

Contact Bateman Books about this book

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A vivid exploration of war and peace in the old world that illuminates the lives of young people, in particular, from first loves to first battles. The novel is a sharp-eyed, page-turning account of the everyday and the epic in te ao Māori. In Soutar's hands, the past feels close enough to touch.

Paula Morris, Founder of Academy of NZ Literature