The Undertow: The Ragged

Newly arrived settlers, escaping an oppressive Victorian England, are finding the Crown’s fingers stretch all the way to this wild, distant land—and they are still stuck on the bottom rung. Samuel Kenning has arrived “safe and well at the ends of the earth,” ready to claim his land and his better life. He quickly learns, however, that the life and land he has purchased from the New Zealand Company wasn’t theirs to give.

New Zealand Company representatives, the Spooners, are doing their best to provide for all recent arrivals in Port Nicholson; for their own, a grand residence in Thorndon, flooded shacks for the rest. The Company will bravely forge ahead with the new colony at any cost, and with great profit… “Come to New Zealand—the land is flat, the climate sub-tropical and bananas grow plentifully!”

And they have brought reinforcements: Missionary man Thaddeus Bly and the firm hand of God, and Governor Hobson’s man, Crippen have come to quell the settlers’ fears of an impending savage attack and bring news of a treaty. 

Chief Te Waipouri presides over a small kainga on the south coast, Te Miti. He walks the line between the old world and the new as sweet-talking men, whose mouths froth for the land, advance on his whenua and his village’s way of life. He must learn how to negotiate this new world, and guide his people towards their best chance of survival. 

Depending on who you ask, New Zealand is either a cleverly negotiated colony, with booming trade, fine governance, and the blessing of God himself… or it’s a battle field, land stolen by stealth, natives beat into submission—a poorly planned union, doomed to fail.

Expandable cast.