The Bone People Topics for Further Study
by Keri Hulme

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Topics for Further Study

(Novels for Students)

  • Watch the DVD Whale Rider (2003) and mark the places where Maori traditions are portrayed. Look for an example of hongi, or traditional Maori greeting. Also mark the places where Maori war arts are shown. Pay attention to Maori arts, language, and traditional dress, too. Then take the DVD to your class and skim through the movie to give your classmates a quick overview of how Maori culture is portrayed in this movie.
  • At least two of the art pieces that Kerewin works on in this story are described in detail. One is a drawing of spider-like webbing, and the other is a sculpture of Kerewin, Simon, and Joe all interconnected. Create your own interpretation of what you think one of these works might look like. Use any medium you choose. Present your work to the class and discuss it.
  • Compile statistics about the Maori people over the past half century. How has their standard of living changed? Consider statistics about their health, education, and economic status. Also include statistics on the population of Maori people in New Zealand. Look for statistics on alcoholism, marriage and divorce, and child abuse. Where do most Maori people live? In an urban settings? Or is that changing? Present your findings to your class.
  • Both the author and her protagonist are interested in fishing. Research the sport of fishing in New Zealand. What are some of the favorite fish people like to catch? What kind of fish is New Zealand noted for? Find a map of New Zealand and plot the more popular places to go fishing. Note the seasons for each type of fish as well as what kind of bait is most successful. Present your findings to the class.