Patricia Grace’s poignant and tragic novel, Potiki, examines cultural changes in New Zealand, particularly pertaining to the Maori culture. The story circulates around a detailed description of homeland. Using imagery, sounds, songs, and different character perspectives, Grace gives the reader a haunting picture of a land and culture that cannot and does not exist any longer. Within this work, the sea and death is mentioned often. There are consistent references to the shoreline being dead: “The shore is a place without seed, without nourishment, a scavenged death place. It is a wasteland, too salt for growth, where the sea puts up its dead…Yet because of being a nothing, a neutral place—not land, not sea—there is freedom on the shore, and rest” (Grace 18). This homeland seems to worship and even revolve around death. Death and a sense of nothingness give the area its own unique sense of identity.
Another place where death is mentioned comes when the characters are attending a memorial service, and a song is sung to commemorate the dead: “