Understanding Racial Politics In Aotearoa

As the world becomes increasingly galvinised by the Black Lives Matter and Anti-Racist movements we must remember that New Zealand is not immune to racism. Our history of colonisation and immigration has given us our own struggles that need to be understood and overcome. The books listed below offer a starting point for understanding racial politics in New Zealand from a Māori perspective.

Hīkoi: forty years of Māori protest / Harris, Aroha
Hīkoi provides an overview of the contemporary Māori protest movement, a summary of the rationale behind the actions, and photographs of protests, marches, and the mahi behind the scenes. Results of protest are also discussed including the Waitangi Tribunal; Māori becoming an official language; Māori-medium education; and Māori television.

Imagining decolonisation.
What is decolonisation and why do we need it in New Zealand? This book discusses why it is needed if we are going to build a country that is fair and equal for all who live here, as well as what it could look and feel like.

Ka whawhai tonu mātou: Struggle without end / Walker, Ranginui
A revised edition of this best-selling history of New Zealand from a Māori perspective. Dr Walker discusses the fact that Māori have been involved in an endless struggle for justice, equality and self-determination for the last two centuries. A challenging must-read for all New Zealanders.

Decolonizing methodologies: research and indigenous peoples / Smith, Linda Tuhiwai
This is a revised and updated edition of a landmark work. It explores how imperialism and research interact and how this has had an impact on ‘knowledge’ and ‘tradition’. Social justice and concepts such as ‘discovery’ and ‘claiming’ are discussed and it is argued that it is necessary to decolonise research methods in order to reclaim control over indigenous ways of knowing and being.

Journey towards justice / Workman, Kim
Kim Workman is a central figure in the ongoing discussion of justice and prison policy in New Zealand. This is a powerful first-hand account of struggle, spirituality and questions of cultural identity as well as the state and social forces that have helped shape contemporary New Zealand.

Colonising myths–Māori realities: he rukuruku whakaaro / Mikaere, Annabel
A collection of a series of papers that reflects on the effect of Pākehā law, legal processes, and teaching on Māori legal thought and practice.

Online resources

Bridget William Book Treaty of Waitangi Collection
This amazing collection of ebooks is available on our Wellington City Libraries Online Resources page. You will need your library card and pin number to access these full-text scholarly works.

Bridget Williams Books The NZ History Collection
Provides online access to over thirty years of award-winning history and biography publishing from Bridget Williams Books – includes over 90 New Zealand history titles. You will need your library card and pin number to access these full-text scholarly works.

Te Ara — The Encyclopaedia of New Zealand
Te Ara has great information about the history of Anti-racism and Treaty of Waitangi activism, Māori protest movements and the Human Rights Commission.

The Waitangi Collection: NZ On Screen
Includes films about Treaty and activist groups such as Ngā Tamatoa (see below).



Te Tiriti Based Futures And Anti-racism 2020
An online conference, 21-30 March, 2020. Includes Jen Margaret and  Julia Whaipooti.

You can also learn about how other ethnic groups have experienced racism in Aotearoa through the resources below:

Polynesian Panthers : Pacific protest and affirmative action in Aotearoa New Zealand 1971-1981
The Polynesian Panthers sought to raise consciousness and take action in response to the racism and discrimination Pacific peoples faced in New Zealand in the 1970s and 1980s. Interviews, memoirs, poetry, newspaper articles, and critical analysis help create a thought-provoking account of this period in New Zealand history.

Old Asian, new Asian / Ng, K. Emma
Did you know that a 2010 Human Rights Commission report found that Asian people reported higher levels of discrimination than any other minority in New Zealand?  This anecdotal account is based on Ng’s personal experience as a second-generation young Chinese-New Zealand woman and explores the persistence of racism against Asians in New Zealand.

Justice and race: campaigns against racism and abuse in Aotearoa New Zealand / Sutherland, O. R. W.
“This is the story of ACORD – the Auckland Committee on Racism And Discrimination. For 15 years ACORD exposed and campaigned against the institutional racism of police, justice and social welfare systems. It laid the groundwork for a national duty solicitor scheme and gained protections for children incarcerated by the state.” (From our catalogue)

Black Lives Matter: Non-Fiction Resources

Libraries are places where we can find resources to help us learn about the experiences of others. We can then take what we have learnt and use our understanding of people and situations to make the world a better place. It might sound cliched, but knowledge and truth do educate and empower us.

We have many excellent non-fiction resources at Wellington City Libraries that can give an insight into the Black Lives Matter and #GiveNothingToRacism movements and the current racial and political situation in the United States of America.

Step outside of your comfort zone and confront some harsh realities with the resources listed below.

How to be an antiracist / Kendi, Ibram X
Following on from his National Book Award-winning and New York Times best-selling Stamped from the Beginning Kendi considers here what an antiracist society might look like. Founding director of the Antiracism Research and Policy Center, Kendi shows that neutrality on racism is not an option and that until we become part of the solution, we will only be part of the problem. He helps us recognise that everyone is, at times, complicit in racism whether they realise it or not and shows us how instead to be a force for good. Ebook but also available as an audiobook.

Between the world and me / Coates, Ta-Nehisi
Ta-Nehisi Coates examines the USA’s ‘long war on black people’ not only to understand himself but to also clarify the continuing role race plays in the US today. Toni Morrison called this book ‘required reading’ and it is a strong, and perceptive examination of race relations in the United States. Also available as an ebook. You can also check out Coates’ other powerful works about race in the USA:  The Beautiful Struggle: A Memoir, and We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy

I’m still here: black dignity in a world made for whiteness / Brown, Austin Channing
Growing up in majority-white schools, organisations, and churches, Brown had to learn ‘what it means to love blackness’ and how to navigate the racial divide in the USA as a writer, speaker and expert who helps organisations practice inclusion. This is a powerful account of how and why our actions often fall short of our words and a look at how white, middle-class, evangelicalism has participated in an era of rising racial hostility. Also available as an audiobook.

Eloquent rage: a black feminist discovers her superpower/Cooper, Brittney C.
Black feminist Brittney Cooper explores the theory that that anger is a powerful source of energy that can give us the strength to keep on fighting. Rather than seeing black women’s anger as a destructive force that threatens the civility and social fabric of the USA, Cooper shows us that black women’s eloquent rage is what makes Serena Williams a powerful tennis player, what makes Beyoncé’s anthems resonate, and what makes Michelle Obama an icon. Eloquent rage reminds women that they don’t have to settle for less. A positive, uplifting exploration of black feminism. Ebook, but also available as an audiobook.

The new Jim Crow: mass incarceration in the age of colorblindness / Alexander, Michelle
Benjamin Todd Jealous, president and CEO of the NAACP, has called this book a ‘call to action’, as it challenges the notion that the election of Barack Obama signaled a new era of colorblindness. Legal scholar Michelle Alexander argues that ‘we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it’. She further asserts that by targeting black men through the War on Drugs and decimating communities of color, the U.S. criminal justice system functions as a contemporary system of racial control—relegating millions to a permanent second-class status—even as it formally adheres to the principle of colorblindness. Also available as an ebook, and an audiobook.

What doesn’t kill you makes you blacker: a memoir in essays / Young, Damon
What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker explores Damon Young’s efforts to survive while battling and making sense of the various neuroses his country has given him as a black man. Provocative, humorous, poignant and challenging. (ebook)

 

 

You can also find documentaries such as I Am Not Your Negro on our free movie streaming platform Beamafilm, or docos like Stay Woke: The Black Lives Matter Movement on YouTube.

For teens, you can check out our curated Give Nothing to Racism ebook list here.

2020 Ockham NZ Book Awards: Non-Fiction Winners!

Last week we profiled the fiction and poetry winners of the 2020 Ockham NZ Book Awards. This week we celebrate the non-fiction winners!

“It is rock-star writing: entertaining, revealing and incredibly heartfelt”

The 2020 General Non-Fiction Award went to Shayne Carter, musician and front man of Straitjacket Fits and Dimmer, for his memoir, Dead People I Have Known (Victoria University Press). Carter also won the E.H. McCormick Prize for best first work of General Non-Fiction. The category judges said of the first-time author’s work: “It is rock-star writing: entertaining, revealing and incredibly heartfelt”.  Rachel King’s marvelous Spin Off essay  about Dead People I Have Known noted that: “The best thing about the book is Shayne’s ability to fully recreate a scene as if he is standing right there experiencing it, and we are standing there with him”.  Reserve a copy of this powerful book here.

Watch Shayne Carter read from Dead People I Have Known here.

“From the obscure and ephemeral to the well-known and loved, the images allow us to be witness to – and challenge us to learn from – our shared past of resistance, dissent and activism”

Stephanie Gibson, Matariki Williams (Tūhoe, Te Atiawa, Ngāti Whakaue, Ngāti Hauiti), and Puawai Cairns (Ngāti Pūkenga, Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāiterangi) – three Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa curators – won the 2020 Illustrated Non-Fiction Award for their work Protest Tautohetohe: Objects of Resistance, Persistence and Defiance. The judges observed that: “From the obscure and ephemeral to the well-known and loved, the images allow us to be witness to – and challenge us to learn from – our shared past of resistance, dissent and activism”.

Alice Webb-Liddall wrote that: “Movements led by Māori, by women and by children continue to shape New Zealand’s community and policy, and have made us world leaders in areas like women’s suffrage. A collection of objects become the markers of every movement, and Stephanie Gibson, Matariki Williams and Puawai Cairns have collated some of the most important, most beautiful and most confronting of these”. Reserve a copy of this fascinating and important book here.

Watch Stephanie Gibson read from Protest Tautohetohe: Objects of Resistance, Persistence and Defiance here.

“The book is not only a reflection of New Zealand’s diversity of people and whenua, but also speaks to how we interact with our environment” 

The 2020 Judith Binney Prize for best first work of Illustrated Non-Fiction went to Chris McDowall and Tim Denee for We Are Here: An Atlas of Aotearoa (Massey University Press). RNZ noted that this book “is not only a reflection of New Zealand’s diversity of people and whenua, but also speaks to how we interact with our environment”. Reserve a copy of this book, which is more than just an atlas, here.

#StayAtHome Film Festival: Louise’s Māori and Pasifika Picks

Our Kanopy and Beamafilm streaming platforms have a great selection of FREE content from Aotearoa and the Pacific. It’s always good to see our own cultures represented on the screen, so while we are still spending a lot of time at home grab the opportunity to watch some gems that have a Māori and Pasifika kaupapa!

This blog only highlights a small selection of films including emotional movies, documentaries, and a feel good gem about musicians and finding yourself. You will find more if you search ‘Māori’, ‘New Zealand’, or a specific Pasifika country within Kanopy or Beamafilm.

Go ahead and immerse yourself in the stories of Aotearoa and the Pacific!


The Orator

Year: 2011
Length: 106 minutes
Director: Tusi Tamasese

Watch the full film here on Beamafilm!

The Orator is a beautiful and emotional movie that was written and directed by Samoan film-maker Tusi Tamasese and shot entirely in Samoan on location in Samoa itself. Saili’s story is one of love and challenges as he learns he must stand tall, despite his small stature, to become a hero. Highly recommended.

Discover More:

You can also watch Tamasese’s other feature film, One Thousand Ropes, on Kanopy.


Kuo Hina E Hiapo: The Mulberry is White and Ready for Harvest

Year: 2001
Length: 28 minutes
Directors: Joseph Ostraff, Melinda Ostraff

Watch the full film here on Kanopy!

Tapa cloth is a true artistic treasure of the Pacific. In Tonga it is called ngatu and this short documentary illustrates  ngatu’s symbolic importance and collaborative production. Beautiful and fascinating!

Discover More:

Our Te Moana-Nui-A-Kiwi/Pasefika popular topic page provides links to all sorts of Pasefika books and online resources.


Mauri

Year: 1988
Length: 100 minutes
Director: Merata Mita


Watch the full film here on Kanopy!

Merata Mita was the first Māori woman to write and direct a dramatic movie when she brought out Mauri in 1988. Set on the East Coast, Mauri stars Anzac Wallace (Utu) and activist Eva Rickard. This is a landmark film from a landmark Māori film maker.

Discover More:

You can also watch Ngati on Kanopy, another ground-breaking  film from a Māori film maker, this time Barry Barclay.


Waru

Year: 2017
Length: 86 minutes
Directors: Ainsley Gardiner, Awanui Simich-Pene, Briar Grace Smith, Casey Kaa, Chelsea Winstanley, Katie Wolfe, Paula Whetu Jones, Renae Maihi

Watch the full film here on Kanopy!

Eight female Māori directors give us eight connected stories, each taking place at the same moment in time during the tangi of a small boy called Waru. This is a very moving and challenging film with all eight stories  subtly linked while following different female characters. All must come to terms with Waru’s death and try to find a way forward within their community.

Discover More:

A tangi is at the heart of Waru. If you want to learn about Māori protocols surrounding tangi, or other Māori topics, our Māori Information Resources page is an excellent place to start.


The Rain of the Children

Year: 2008
Length: 102 minutes
Director: Vincent Ward

Watch the full film here on Kanopy!

I love this film. Vincent Ward’s beautiful dramatic documentary explores the life of Tuhoe woman Puhi and her relationship to Rua Kenana and the community at Maungapohatu. Ward looks at the curse Puhi believed she lived under in an incredibly moving way, and the result is a jewel of a film.

Discover More:

You can also watch Vincent Ward’s first film about Puhi, In Spring One Plants Alone, on Kanopy.


The Deadlands

Year: 2013
Length: 107 minutes
Director: Toa Fraser

Watch the full film here on Beamafilm!

Woo hoo! Revenge and action abound in Toa Fraser’s movie starring James Rolleston and Lawrence Makoare. You gotta love the use of mau rākau – a traditional Māori martial art – and a script in te reo Māori!

Discover More:

If you want to start learning te reo Māori our recent Resources to Learn Māori blog can help with all sorts of tips to get you started.


The Pa Boys

Year: 2014
Length: 90 minutes
Director: Himiona Grace

Watch the full film here on Kanopy!

My whānau love this heartfelt film about a musician and his reggae band on a road trip of music and self discovery. Francis Kora is wonderful as Danny who is unsettled, and then opened up to his culture, when Tau (Matariki Whatarau) joins the band. Music, landscape, laughs and love – beautiful and simple.

Discover More:

The band in The Pa Boys sets out from Wellington where Danny lives. If you love the music scene in Wellington you can learn more about it on our dedicated Wellington Music page.

The Signing of Te Tiriti, Wellington, 29 April 1840

Did you know that as well as being signed in Waitangi on 6 February 1840 the Treaty of Waitangi was also signed in other parts of Aotearoa throughout that year?

Ngā mihi ki a koutou katoa i tēnei wā COVID-19.

He pānui tēnei – ānei ngā rauemi ā-ipurangi mā koutou e kimi, mā koutou e tuku i ō koutou kāinga.

Usually our libraries commemorate the signing of Te Tiriti/Treaty of Waitangi in Te Whanganui-a-Tara/Wellington, 29 April 1840, through special events, displays, and the lending of relevant books or audio-visual material on the kaupapa of Te Tiriti. 

Unfortunately our bricks and mortar libraries are currently closed due to the COVID-19 crisis. However our Māori Specialist Librarian, Ann Reweti, has put together a comprehensive selection of rauemi/resources about Te Tiriti and its signing in Te Whanganui-a-Tara in 1840. These can be accessed through our website or the internet and we are very pleased to provide online links in this special blog.

Lockdown is the perfect time to learn more about our local history and how modern day Wellington and New Zealand have been shaped by our unique past, and the relationships between mana whenua and the crown. Take some time to have a look at these wonderful resources  – for a concise overview of history, places where treaty copies were signed, and lists of signatories to the treaties in each of eight locations –  from the comfort of your own kāinga/home.

NZHistory.govt.nz – Treaty of Waitangi information includes the following topics: the Treaty in brief; English and te reo Māori texts; signings and locations of eight treaty documents; Tiriti timeline; biographies of Tiriti participants.

Te Ara – always presents a good New Zealand story for any discussion –  and there are three video reconstructions around the the signing of Te Tiriti.

Bridget William Book Treaty of Waitangi Collection – This amazing collection of ebooks is available on our Wellington City Libraries ELibrary page. You will need your library card and pin number to access these full-text scholarly works.

NZETC (New Zealand Electronic Text Centre) – These links will take you to the full text versions of the following books:

Early newspaper articles weave some thoughts of Te Tiriti:

Papers Past – Access to New Zealand newspapers from 1843-1845.  

Times Digital Archive (1785-1985) – Full text and searchable, every page of every issue. You will need your library card and pin number to access these.

Other useful resources, including videos:

British Parliamentary Papers: Colonies

The Waitangi Collection: Nz On Screen

National Library Of New Zealand: He Tohu and He Tohu Kōrero snippets

Te Tiriti Based Futures And Anti-racism 2020  – An online conference, 21-30 March, 2020. Includes Jen Margaret and  Julia Whaipooti.  

There are also fantastic audio tapes available from RNZ:

And don’t forget, you can always see the Treaty itself in Wellington at the National Library of New Zealand.

 

#StayAtHome Film Festival: Louise’s Doco Picks

If like me you are curious about the world AND an information junkie who loves non-fiction with a strong narrative then this selection of documentary movies is for you. Without hesitation I can say that documentaries are my favourite genre of movie and the best will resonate in my mind for days, months, and years to come. Documentaries help us understand our natural and human world at the same time as entertaining and informing us. I will never forget the first time I saw Errol Morris’ The Thin Blue Line in 1989 and became aware of the power of documentary as compelling storytelling with a deeper social commentary. This personal selection below only touches the surface of the many amazing documentaries that can be found on Beamafilm and Kanopy, but I hope it provides a taste of the range and depth on offer.


Herb and Dorothy

Year: 2008
Length: 87 minutes
Director: Megumi Sasaki

Watch the full film here!

I love this film. The gentle story of Herbert Vogel, a postal worker, and Dorothy Vogel, a librarian, who built an important contemporary art collection from their modest and fascinating one bedroom New York apartment is truly beautiful.  Its exploration of what compelled Herb and Dorothy to start collecting Minimalist and Conceptual art, with very modest means, until they had one of the most important modern art collections contained in their one bedroom New York apartment is charming and insightful. A testament to art and Herb and Dorothy’s personalities and relationship, this is a documentary that I highly recommend.

Discover more:

Oxford Art Online: Learn more about Minimalist and Conceptual art with encyclopaedia-style articles on the visual arts, including more than 21,000 biographies of artists and craftsmen, and over 5,000 searchable art images, drawings and maps. Content covers painting, sculpture, graphic arts, architecture, photography and more.


Mountain

Year: 2016
Length: 74 minutes
Director: Jennifer Peedom

Watch the full film here!

Wow! This visually stunning documentary about the lure of mountains for humans is breathtaking. Willem Dafoe has the perfect voice to narrate and the soundtrack is by the Australian Chamber Orchestra and includes works works by Chopin, Grieg, Vivaldi, and Beethoven. The grandeur of the mountains is matched by the majesty of the music and the story it tells is simple and beautiful. Why we climb and go into the wilderness, and the beauty of our world’s mountains, has never been shown in a more elegant and compelling way.

Discover more:

PressReader and RBdigital: Both PressReader and RBdigital provide online access to hundreds of magazines including many on mountaineering, tramping, photography and more. If you enjoyed Mountain, you will find more to whet your outdoors appetite here.


Straws

Year: 2017
Length: 33 minutes
Director: Linda Booker

Watch the full film here!

Although a short documentary, Straws packs a punch in its informative exploration of plastic pollution in our oceans. By showing how individuals, groups, and businesses around the globe are reducing plastic straw use through education, collaboration, policy development and utilisation of non-plastic alternatives, Straws helps us understand the impact of one plastic product on our environment. This optimistic and engaging documentary shows that small changes can make a difference.

Discover more:

Gale’s GREENR Global Reference on the Environment, Energy, and Natural Resources: Learn more about the physical, social, and economic aspects of environmental issues such as plastic pollution. Topics include authoritative analysis, academic journals, news, case studies, legislation, conference proceedings, primary source documents, statistics, and multimedia.


Dancer

Year: 2016
Length: 81 minutes
Director: Steven Cantor

Watch the full film here!

Dancer is a fascinating character study of a virtuoso ballet dancer that demonstrates how wealth and success might not be enough to satisfy our quest for personal and professional identity. At 19, Ukrainian Sergei Polunin became the Royal Ballet’s youngest ever principal dancer. However after two years, and at the height of his success, Sergei resolved to stop dancing. Filled with amazing footage of classical and contemporary dance (including his viral performance to Hozier’s “Take Me to Church”), this is a beautiful and melancholic exploration of how growing from a child prodigy through to a successful artist does not guarantee happiness.

Discover more:

Naxos Video Library: If you love ballet, then this is for you: watch the world’s greatest opera houses, ballet companies, orchestras and artists perform on demand!


The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness

Year: 2014
Length: 118 minutes
Director: Mami Sunada

Watch the full film here!

My kids grew up with Studio Ghibli movies and at 19 and 21 they still regularly watch and rewatch the magical films that have come out of the mind of Hayao Miyazaki and his team. The fantastical and beautiful animation of films such as Spirited Away, My Neighbour Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service, and Howl’s Moving Castle are captivating and gorgeous. This beautiful documentary looks at how Miyazaki and Ghibli became successful and asks what could come next for these talented film makers. Recommended for anyone who has enjoyed a Studio Ghibli movie or loves animation.

Discover more:

Mango Languages: Have you ever wanted to watch and enjoy Studio Ghibli movies in their original Japanese? You can start learning Japanese today with Mango Languages–available through our website and FREE with your library card.

Ockham NZ Book Awards Illustrated Non-Fiction Long List

As well as General Non-Fiction, the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards have a special category for Illustrated Non-Fiction. The 2020 long list for this category, which has just been announced, includes magnificently illustrated books that both inform and entertain.

The Ockham short lists will be announced on 4 March, and the final prize winners will be presented with their awards on 12 May.

Check out the titles in the Illustrated Non-Fiction Award category long list!

Crafting Aotearoa: a cultural history of making in New Zealand and the wider Moana Oceania / Chitham, Karl
“A major new history of craft that spans three centuries of making and thinking in Aotearoa New Zealand and the wider Moana (Pacific). Paying attention to Pākehā, Māori, and island nations of the wider Moana, and old and new migrant makers and their works, this book is a history of craft understood as an idea that shifts and changes over time.” (Adapted from our catalogue)

Protest Tautohetohe: objects of resistance, persistence and defiance / Gibson, Stephanie
“Aotearoa New Zealand has a long legacy of activism. This richly illustrated book brings together over 300 objects made by protestors to proclaim and symbolise their causes and their struggles. From banners to badges, t-shirts to tea towels, posters to photographs, it is a vivid reflection of 250 years of resistance and persistance.” (Catalogue)

Frances Hodgkins: European journeys
“This vivid and revealing book is published alongside a landmark exhibition focused on one of our most internationally recognized artists, Frances Hodgkins. Complete with a rich visual chronology of the artist’s encounters abroad, alongside over one hundred of Hodgkins’ key paintings and drawings, the book is an illuminating journey that moves us from place to place through the writings of a number of distinguished art historians, curators and critics.” (Adapted from our catalogue)

Funny as: the story of New Zealand comedy / Horan, Paul
“On TV, film, and live, New Zealand comedy has never been bigger. Published alongisde a major Television New Zealand documentary series, Funny As is a big, authoritative, funny history of New Zealand’s funny men and women. From capping bands to the Topp Twins, hori humour to Billy T James, Lynn of Tawa to Fred Dagg, New Zealanders have made each other laugh in ways distinctive to our peoples and our culture. In 400 pictures and a text built on deep research and over 100 interviews with comics, this book will be Funny As.” (Catalogue)

We are here: an atlas of Aotearoa / McDowall, Chris
“This compelling mix of charts, graphs, diagrams, maps and illustrations is beautiful, insightful, and enlightening. It helps us make sense of our country, to grasp its scale, diversity and intricacies, and to experience feelings of connection to land, to place, to this time in our history, and to one another. By making data visible, each graphic reveals insights: Who visits us? How many fish are in the sea? How do we hurt ourselves? Where do our cats go to at night?  Essays by some of New Zealand’s best thinkers complete the package.” (Adapted from our catalogue)

Louise Henderson: from life
“This is the first major survey of the life and work of French-born, New Zealand artist Louise Henderson (1902-1994). Featuring work from across Henderson’s seven-decade career, the book and accompanying exhibition trace the development of the artist’s bold and colourful abstract style. Henderson worked alongside other major figures including Rita Angus, John Weeks, Colin McCahon and Milan Mrkusich and was one of the first New Zealand artists to commit herself to an overtly modern style.” (Adapted from our catalogue)

McCahon country / Paton, Justin
“In this landmark book, celebrated writer and curator Justin Paton takes readers on a journey through the landscape of Aotearoa, as the artist loved and painted it. From Otago to Canterbury, Takaka to Taranaki, Muriwai to Northland and many more places in between, Paton brings his curator’s eye to a selection of nearly 200 of McCahon’s paintings and drawings, including iconic and beloved works and others never before published.” (Adapted from our catalogue)

Colin McCahon: there is only one direction. Vol. I 1919-1959 / Simpson, Peter “In the first of a two-volume work chronicling 45 years of painting by New Zealand artist, Colin McCahon, leading McCahon scholar, writer, and curator Peter Simpson chronicles the evolution of McCahon’s work over the artist’s entire career. Each volume includes over 300 colour illustrations, with a selection of reproductions (many never previously published), plus photographs, catalogue covers, facsimiles and other illustrative material.” (Adapted from our catalogue)

The meaning of trees / Vennell, Robert
“This treasure of a book pays homage to New Zealand’s native plant species while telling the story of plants and people in Aotearoa. Beautifully illustrated with botanical drawings, paintings and photographs, it shows us how a globally unique flora has been used for food, medicine, shelter, spirituality and science. From Jurassic giants to botanical oddballs – these are our wonderful native and endemic plants.” (Adapted from our catalogue)


The New Photography: New Zealand’s First-generation Contemporary Photographers / McCredie, Athol
“Athol McCredie is a leading NZ photography curator and in this beautiful book he tells the story of the beginning of contemporary/art photography in Aotearoa. Photographers discussed include Gary Baigent, Max Oettli, and Ans Westra.” (Adapted from Fishpond)

Ockham NZ Book Awards General Non-Fiction Long List

The 2020 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards long list has been announced and contains a myriad of marvelous books in the General Non-Fiction Award category. It is heartening to see such a fantastic list of true stories that are ours and that have enriched our lives and nation.

The short list will be announced on 4 March, and the final prize winners will be presented with their awards on 12 May.

Check out all the titles – we have them all in our libraries –  in the General Non-Fiction Award category long list here:

Women mean business: colonial businesswomen in New Zealand / Bishop, Catherine
“From Kaitaia in Northland to Oban on Stewart Island, New Zealand’s nineteenth-century towns were full of entrepreneurial women. Then, as now, there was no typical businesswoman. They were middle and working class; young and old; Māori and Pākehā; single, married, widowed and sometimes bigamists. Their businesses could be wild successes or dismal failures, lasting just a few months or a lifetime.” (Adapted from our catalogue)

Dead people I have known / Carter, Shayne
“In Dead People I Have Known, legendary New Zealand musician Shayne Carter tells the story of a life in music, taking us deep behind the scenes and songs of his riotous teenage bands Bored Games and the Doublehappys and his best-known bands Straitjacket Fits and Dimmer. He traces an intimate history of the Dunedin Sound and his own life in a frank, moving, and often funny autobiography.” (Adapted from our catalogue)

Dead letters: censorship and subversion in New Zealand, 1914-1920 / Davidson, Jared
“Intimate and engaging, this dramatic narrative weaves together the personal and political, bringing to light the reality of wartime censorship. In an age of growing state power, new forms of surveillance and control, and fragility of the right to privacy and freedom of opinion, Dead Letters is a startling reminder that we have been here before.” (Adapted from our catalogue)

Shirley Smith: an examined life / Gaitanos, Sarah
“Shirley Smith was one of the most remarkable New Zealanders of the 20th century, a woman whose life-long commitment to social justice, legal reform, gender equality, and community service left a profound legacy. Her life was shaped by some of the most turbulent currents of the 20th century, and she in turn helped shape her country for the better.” (Adapted from our catalogue)

Wild honey: reading New Zealand women’s poetry / Green, Paula
“Highly regarded poet and anthologist Paula Green is the author of this much overdue survey of New Zealand’s women poets. The selection is generous, the tone is at times gentle and accessible, and Green’s reach is wide.” (Adapted from our catalogue)

Finding Frances Hodgkins / Kisler, Mary
“When Frances Hodgkins first left New Zealand in 1901, location became a key factor in her determination to succeed as an artist. In this engaging book, Mary Kisler follows in Hodgkins’ footsteps through England, France, Italy, Morocco, Spain and Wales to discover the locations in which Hodgkins constantly pushed her exploration of modernism. Warm, insightful, fresh, expert and richly illustrated with more than 70 artworks, this handsome book sheds new light on Hodgkins’ life, art and social milieu.” (Adpated from our catalogue)

Towards the mountain: a story of grief and hope forty years on from Erebus / Myles, Sarah
“Marking the 40th anniversary of the Erebus disaster, this is the first book on that tragedy written by a member of one of the affected families.” (Catalogue)

The New Zealand Wars  Ngā Pakanga o Aotearoa / O’Malley, Vincent
“Vincent O’Malley’s new book provides a highly accessible introduction to the causes, events and consequences of the New Zealand Wars. The text is supported by extensive full-colour illustrations as well as timelines, graphs and summary tables.” (Adapted from our catalogue)

Fifteen million years in Antarctica / Priestley, Rebecca
“Fifteen Million Years in Antarctica offers a deeply personal tour of a place in which a person can feel like an outsider in more ways than one. With generosity and candour, Priestley reflects on what Antarctica can tell us about Earth’s future and asks: do people even belong in this fragile, otherworldly place?” (Adapted from our catalogue)

Whale oil / Thomson, Margie
“The shocking, and completely true story of blogger Cameron Slater known as Whale Oil and his systematic online attack of Auckland businessman Matt Blomfield that destroyed Blomfield’s reputation and career and turned him into a social outcast. Blomfield spent seven years and hundreds of thousands of dollars taking a defamation case against Slater, which he ultimately won, establishing that Slater’s vendetta was based entirely on lies. This book is a remarkable piece of investigative writing, a story of courage and tenacity, which reminds us how important it is to stand up to bullies, and to be reassured that in the end they do not always win.” (Adapted from our catalogue)

Beloved polymath Clive James dies at 80

Latest readings / James, Clive (2015)A final flood of colours will live on
As my mind dies,
Burned by my vision of a world that shone
So brightly at the last, and then was gone
— From Japanese Maple, Clive James, 2014

The author and broadcaster Clive James died on Sunday at the age of 80.

James had grown up in Sydney and left for Britain in the early 1960s where he found success as a poet, critic, essayist, and broadcaster. As a member of Footlights at Cambridge University James cultivated his persona as a ‘funny guy’ and part of his popularity stemmed from his ability to move between the high and low brow worlds of academia, literature, popular culture, television, and the cult of celebrity.

A prolific author, Clive James wrote gorgeous poetry, acerbic (and funny) criticism, and evocative memoirs. His descriptions of growing up in Sydney in the forties and fifties were wonderful evocations of the love an ex-pat has for the homeland that they ‘escaped’ in younger years.

After starting as a TV critic for The Observer in 1972, James had a television career with shows such as Clive James on Television. Always aware of popular culture he also wrote about the pleasures of binge-watching as box-sets and streaming became popular.

In the 21st century, James embraced the Internet and had his own web series, Clive James Talking in the Library, where he interviewed cultural figures such as Stephen Fry, Nick Hornby, and Michael Frayn:

James’s publisher and editor, Don Paterson, noted of him in The Independent today: “Any encounter [with him], either in print or in person, left you desperate to go and open a book, watch a film or a TV show, or hunt down a recording.”

We have a selection of books by Clive James in our collections that we encourage you to ‘hunt down’ and enjoy.

In his own words:

“If you don’t know the exact moment when the lights will go out, you might as well read until they do”


Poetry notebook : 2006-2014 / James, Clive
“Clive James is one of our finest critics and best-loved cultural voices. He is also a prize-winning poet. Since he was first enthralled by the mysterious power of poetry, he has been a dedicated student. In fact, for Clive, poetry has been nothing less than the occupation of a lifetime, and in this book he presents a distillation of all he’s learned about the art form that matters to him most.” (From our catalogue)

The blaze of obscurity / James, Clive
Clive James on TV – and now in book form. Clive James will always be a TV presenter first and foremost, and a writer second – this despite the fact that his adventures with the written work took place before, during and after his time on the small screen. This book tells the inside story of his years in television.” (From our catalogue)

Cultural cohesion: the essential essays, 1968-2002 / James, Clive
“Following his much-heralded publication of Cultural Amnesia, Clive James presents here his “prequel”-forty-nine essays, which he has selected as representing the best of his half-century career. Cultural Cohesion examines the twisted cultural terrain of the twentieth century in a volume that is not only erudite but also endlessly entertaining. Dividing his book into four sections – “Poetry,” “Fiction and Literature,” “Culture and Criticism,” and ”Visual Images” – James comments on poets like W. H. Auden , novelists like Raymond Chandler, and filmmakers like Fellini .” (From our catalogue)

Latest readings / James, Clive
“In 2010, Clive James was diagnosed with terminal leukemia. Deciding that “if you don’t know the exact moment when the lights will go out, you might as well read until they do,” James moved his library to his house in Cambridge, where he would “live, read, and perhaps even write.” This volume contains his reflections on what may well be his last reading list. A look at some of his old favorites as well as some recent discoveries, this book also offers a revealing look at the author himself, sharing his evocative musings on literature and family, and on living and dying. This valediction to James’s lifelong engagement with the written word is a captivating valentine from one of the great literary minds of our time.” (Adapted from our catalogue)

Play all : a bingewatcher’s notebook / James, Clive
“Since serving as television columnist for the London Observer from 1972 to 1982, James has witnessed a radical change in content, format, and programming, and in the very manner in which TV is watched. Here he examines this unique cultural revolution, providing a brilliant, eminently entertaining analysis of many of the medium’s most notable twenty-first-century accomplishments and their not always subtle impact on modern society–including such acclaimed serial dramas as Breaking Bad, and The Sopranos. With intelligence and wit, James explores a television landscape expanded by cable and broadband and profoundly altered by the advent of Netflix, Amazon, and other “cord-cutting” platforms that have helped to usher in a golden age of unabashed binge-watching.” (Adapted from our catalogue)

Somewhere Becoming Rain: Collected Writings On Philip Larkin / James, Clive
“This book gathers all of James’s writing on this towering literary figure, together with material now published for the first time. James writes about Larkin’s poems, his novels, his jazz and literary criticism; he also considers the two major biographies, Larkin’s letters and even his portrayal on stage in order to chart the extreme and, he argues, largely misguided equivocations about Larkin’s reputation in the years since his death. Through this joyous and perceptive book, Larkin’s genius is delineated and celebrated. James argues that Larkin’s poems, adored by discriminating readers for over half a century, could only have been the product of his reticent, diffident, flawed, and all-too-human personality. Erudite and entertaining in equal measure, Somewhere Becoming Rain is a love letter from one of the world’s best living writers to one of its most cherished poets.” (Adapted from our catalogue)

A Feast of Fantastic Non-Fiction! Baillie Gifford Prize Shortlist Announced

The Baillie Gifford Prize (formerly known as the Samuel Johnson Prize) is the UK’s premier non-fiction book award. It covers all non-fiction in the areas of current affairs, history, politics, science, sport, travel, biography, autobiography, and the arts. Books that make its long list are always fascinating and the winners are consistently readable, compelling, and thought provoking.

Past winners include Serhii Plokhy’s Chernobyl (2018),  How to Survive a Plague by David France (2017), East West Street by Philippe Sands (2016), and Steve Silberman’s Neurotribes (2015).

The short list for 2019’s award was announced on October 22nd and includes rich pickings on an eclectic range of topics including murder, Maoism, biography, and family mysteries. It is also noteworthy that five of the six authors to make the short list are women, a conspicuous milestone for a prize whose long  lists and winners in the past have been predominantly male.

Here are the six fabulous finalists:

Furious hours: murder, fraud, and the last trial of Harper Lee/Cep, Casey N.
Willie Maxwell was a preacher accused of murdering his first wife in 1970. Over the next few years, other family members suspiciously died, each with life insurance policies taken out by Maxwell. With the help of a clever lawyer Maxwell escaped justice for years. Cep brings this gripping story to life along with a vivid account of Harper Lee’s quest to write another book after To Kill a Mockingbird, and her struggle with fame,and the mysteries of artistic creativity.

On chapel sands: my mother and other missing persons / Cumming, Laura
This is a book of mystery and memoir as prize-winning author Laura Cumming takes a close look at her family story. Two narratives run through it – her mother’s childhood tale (as a child she was kidnapped) and Cumming’s own pursuit of the truth. Above all, Cumming discovers how to look more closely at the family album finding crucial answers, captured in plain sight at the click of a shutter. (Adapted from our catalogue)

The Lives of Lucian Freud : The Restless Years, 1922-1968 / Feaver, William
Lucian Freud was one of the most influential figurative painters of the 20th century. He had ferocious energy, worked day and night and his social circle was broad including royals, drag queens, fashion models, and gangsters like the Kray twins. Rebellious, charismatic, extremely guarded about his life, he was witty and a womanizer. This is an intimate, lively and rich book, full of gossip and stories about people, encounters, and work. (Adapted from our catalogue)

Maoism : a global history / Lovell, Julia
It may seem that China has long abandoned the utopian turmoil of Maoism in favour of authoritarian capitalism, but Mao and his ideas remain central to the People’ Republic and the legitimacy of its communist government. The need to understand the political legacy of Mao remains vital. In this new history, acclaimed historian Julia Lovell revaluates Maoism, analysing both China’s engagement with the movement and its legacy on a global canvas. This is the definitive history of global Maoism. (Adapted from our catalogue)

The five : the untold lives of the women killed by Jack the Ripper / Rubenhold, Hallie
Debates have long raged about Jack the Ripper’s identity, but what about the identity of his victims? Hallie Rubenhold reveals that they were not prostitutes, as we’ve always been told, but women going about their business – one ran a coffeehouse, another worked at a printing press, yet another lived on a country estate – who sadly crossed paths with a killer. As Rubenhold sets the record straight, she reveals a world  of poverty, homelessness and rampant misogyny. (Adapted from our catalogue)

Guest House for Young Widows / Moaveni, Azadeh Azadeh Moaveni’s book is a sensitive account of 13 women who left their homes in different countries to join Isis. It explores the backgrounds of the women and the consequences of their choice to become Isis wives. Each woman ends up in devastating situations and Moaveni, a past Pulitzer Prize finalist, skillfully treads the fine line between exploring empathy for the women and the thorny subject of their culpability in wider terrorism. The women include former FBI agent Daniela Greene who married the IS member she was investigating and Shamima Begum the teenager who was villified by the UK press and was eventually stripped of her UK citizenship. This is a powerful book that uses the small stories of several women to explore the bigger picture of ISIS and it’s impact on the world. (WCL does not currently have a copy of this book)