On Books: 'Wild Pork And Watercress' By Barry Crump

Nov 17, 2016

Taika Waititi's 2016 film Hunt for the Wilderpeople has been an astonishing success from the other side of the world. Already now it is celebrated in New Zealand as the most successful movie of all times. And while it certainly is an amusing adventure well-worth watching, the 1986 novel by Barry Crump that it is based upon is no less entertaining: Wild Pork and Watercress is the story of two outsiders that find another through the overwhelming nature of New Zealand.

Twelve-year-old Ricky Baker is as true an outcast as they come: He is a little too chubby, a little to bold and certainly out of control. After committing a whole series of misdemeanors – from vandalism to theft – social services send the Maori city boy to the countryside as a last resort. On the outskirts of the Urewera forests, he starts to live with Aunt Bella and Uncle Hec. While Bella and Ricky hit it off right from the beginning, the grumpy Hec has his reservations towards the loud and rather annoying boy. But then Bella dies and social services threaten to put Ricky back into care. More accidentally than willingly, Ricky and Hec set out for an adventure through the Urewera forests to flee from their lives in more than one sense.

Wild Pork and Watercress is a humorous tale that discloses a universal truth: When challenged, we discover who we truly are to ourselves as well as to others. But it is not just a novel about outsiders, or even New Zealand as a nation of outsiders, but it is dedicated to a wondrous place where adventures are bound to happen.