Armistice Centenary: Remembering the Contributions of Māori, Chinese, and Pasifika Men

https://natlib.govt.nz/records/22893971
Pioneer Battalion performing a haka. Royal New Zealand Returned and Services’ Association:New Zealand official negatives, World War 1914-1918. Ref: 1/2-013282-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. https://natlib.govt.nz/records/22893971 

On Sunday 11 November the world commemorates 100 years since the signing of the armistice that ended the First World War in 1918. Over 100,000 New Zealanders served during the war and more than 18,000 were killed. This had a devastating affect on people at home and on November 11 1918 the armistice came as a huge relief that was met with joy and thankfulness. Armistice Day has since become a time to reflect on the losses of the war, the hopes of peace, and the contributions of all who served.

An often unknown part of New Zealand’s involvement in the First World War is the courageous participation of Māori, New Zealand Chinese, Cook Island Māori, Fijians, Niueans, Tongans, Samoans, Tuvaluans, and men from Kiribati and Norfolk Island. More than 2,200 Māori and around 500 Pasifika men served overseas with the New Zealand Forces. Just like other ANZAC soldiers these men left their homes, families, and cultures to go to the other side of the world and fight in what was hoped to be ‘the war to end all wars’. They frequently experienced racism, deprivation, and a lack of acknowledgement after the war of their valuable contribution. The story of Te Hokowhitu a Tu, the Māori Pioneer Battalion, is an important part of our First World War history and we have a good selection of items in our library that chronicle the Battalion and the involvement of soldiers from the Pacific.

To learn more, check out the display of books on the second floor at the Central Library and explore the titles and websites listed below:


Te Hokowhitu a Tu : the Maori Pioneer Battalion in the First World War / Christopher Pugsley.
“Distinguished military historian Chris Pugsley recounts the story of the Māori Pioneer Battalion for a new generation. Drawing on rare archival material and previously unpublished diaries and letters, he tells not only the wider story of the the Battalion’s military exploits but also gives a vivid account of the daily life of the soldiers on active service. Illustrated with a large number of fascinating photographs, the book also includes a complete list of all those soldiers who fought with the Battalion.” (Adapted from book cover)

Maiea te tupua : whānau accounts of Waikato-Maniapoto World War One veterans and one conscriptee : commemorating 100 years of World War One / produced by Pūrekireki Marae with the support from Te Pua Wānanga ̄ki te Ao of the University of Waikato, the Waikato Raupatu Lands Trust, the Maniapotō Māori Trust Board, Trust Waikato and Te Puni Kōkiri.
This beautifully illustrated book contains whānau accounts of Waikato-Maniapoto World War One veterans and one conscriptee. It was written by Tom Roa and Maehe Paki and gives moving personal accounts from family members.

Syndetics book coverMaori in the great war / James Cowan.
“In 1914 the population of New Zealand was little more than one million, of whom 50,000 were Maori. Eventually 2227 Maori men served overseas, the vast majority volunteers. 336 paid the supreme sacrifice, of whom 196 were killed in action or died of wounds. A further 734 were wounded, an over-all casualty rate approaching 50%. This revised; Maori in the Great War; contains appendices specifying full details of every soldier who served as well as the Roll of Honour.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverNiue and the Great War / Margaret Pointer.
“The story of tiny Niue’s involvement in the Great War has captivated people since an account was first published by Margaret Pointer in 2000. In 1915, 160 Niuean men joined the NZEF as part of the 3rd Māori Reinforcements and set sail to Auckland and then Egypt and France. Most had never left the island before, or worn shoes before. Most spoke no English. Most significantly, they had no immunity to European disease. Within three months of leaving New Zealand, over 80 per cent of them had been hospitalised.” (Adapted from book cover)

Syndetics book coverKoe kau to’a na’anau poletau/Valiant volunteers: soldiers from Tonga in the Great War / Christine Liava’a.
“At the beginning of the Great War, 1914-1918, the British Empire rallied to Lord Kitchener’s call to arms. British men in Tonga, a protectorate of Britain, although never part of the Empire, heeded his call and enlisted in the Australian and New Zealand forces. Some Tongan men joined them. This book lists the names of these men with their military details, family information, awards, and their deaths. Many photographs are included. An overview of their service and a chronology of events are also given.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Le fitafita mai Samoa/The force from Samoa: soldiers from the Samoan Islands in the Great War / Christine Liava’a.
“At the beginning of the Great War, 1914-1918, Western Samoa was invaded and captured by a New Zealand force acting on behalf of Britain. Australia similarly invaded and captured German New Guinea. Thus the German possessions in the South Pacific were rendered incapable of assisting in the German war effort. American Samoa remained neutral until 1917, when American men were registered as available for service, Volunteers from both Western and American Samoa enlisted in New Zealand, Australia, America and Britain. This book lists all the men from the islands of Samoa who served in these forces, with their military details, family information, awards, and deaths. Photographs of as many as possible are included. An overview of the situation and events in Samoa, a chronology, and several appendices are also given.” (Syndetics summary)

Soldiers from the Pacific: the story of Pacific Island soldiers in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force in World War One / Howard Weddell ; edited and produced by Peter Cooke, Defence of NZ Study Group.
“During World War One over 1,000 men from Cook Islands, Fiji, Niue, Tonga, Kiribati, Tuvalu, Samoa and Norfolk Island volunteered to join the New Zealand Military Forces. Their service included Gallipoli, France, Egypt and Palestine. Despite the fact that 107 of these men died of disease or enemy action, 73 were wounded in action and three became prisoners of war, regrettably their story has yet to be told. They served New Zealand and this is their story.” (Back cover)

Chinese Anzacs : Australians of Chinese descent in the defence forces 1885-1919 / by Alistair Kennedy.
Chinese ANZACs discusses the little known participation of Australian-born and New Zealand-born Chinese in the defence forces during the First World War. Includes a list of New Zealand-born Chinese in the NZEF 1915-1919.

Websites:

Te Puni Kōkiri: Kei Wareware Tātou, Lest We Forget

Te Ara: Māori Contingent in the First World War

New Zealand History: Māori in the NZEF Pioneer Battalion

Te Papa: Were there Pacific Islanders at Gallipoli in 1915?

Sunday 11 November 2018 Commemorations:

Armistice Day 2018 will be marked with events throughout New Zealand including the live-streaming of the Armistice Centenary National Ceremony at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park in central Wellington. Check out this website for details: Armistice Centenary

Armistice Day

Remember Parihaka in 2018

The place I have measured out shall remain sacred for my people… I tell the assembled tribes that they shall not be lost.” – Te Whiti-o-Rongomai [1]

A kuia once showed me a piece of pounamu wrapped up underneath black netting. The opulence of the stone was obvious, but it was partially obscured by its binding. She told me that the stone represents Parihaka. The 19th century Parihaka story is one of New Zealand’s most important historical narratives, yet it is still under-recognised. Parihaka today is one of the most important communities in New Zealand, so it is crucial to become aware of its ongoing contributions, ambitions and significance.

The story of Parihaka is centred in Taranaki, but the struggles and trials of its people covered much of the length of the country. In this blog post we will focus on the places in Wellington entwined with the history of the people of Parihaka, and take a look at the ways Wellingtonians can recognise and remember Parihaka this year.

Josiah Martin, ‘Parihaka’ – Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki (1880) https://www.aucklandartgallery.com/explore-art-and-ideas/artwork/8060

During the 1860s, the prophets Te Whiti and Tohu rose to national prominence among Māori. They were recognised as “the two birds of knowledge” by King Tawhiao. [2] Their community at Parihaka became a haven for Māori, and a place of peaceful resistance to unlawful land confiscation and encroaching settlement. One of those that found their home at Parihaka was Titokowaru, the great military leader of the Māori forces in the Taranaki War of 1868 – 1869. Titokowaru laid down his gun, and took up the plough and the raukura (albatross feather, symbol of peace).

Te Whiti, Tohu, and also Titokowaru led a peaceful campaign of resistance that consisted of ploughing up confiscated land, removing surveying pegs and placing fencing. In response, the government arrested the successive waves of protestors. On 5 November 1881, Parihaka was invaded by a military force of 1600 armed constabulary. Those Māori who were not originally from the Parihaka area were scattered, the buildings were damaged, violence was inflicted against the people and their leaders were arrested. Te Whiti and Tohu were held without trial for two years, before returning home in 1883.

The community Te Whiti and Tohu nurtured still thrives today. It is a place for reconciliation. It is a place to contemplate where we have been and where we are going. Recently, in 2016, the Mayor of New Plymouth, Andrew Judd, led a hikoi walk of peace from New Plymouth to Parihaka.[3]

Memorial Plaque at Pukeahu War Memorial Park dedicated to Taranaki Prisoners

Prisoners in Mt. Cook

In 1879, 195 arrested ploughmen were held in the Mt. Cook Police Barracks. The peaceful protesters were never tried. Instead, they were shipped to the South Island, to take them further away from the influence of Te Whiti. Government legislation enabled indefinite detainment without trial or punishment. But, ploughmen were put to work on infrastructure in the South Island.[4]

The Prophet in Wellington

In the mid-1880s, there was discontent among coastal Māori, around policy on land the government leased from them. They were especially concerned with the large surveying costs that were deducted from the rent due to them.[5] Māori also desired the return of the lands unlawfully confiscated from them.[6]

In 1886, Te Whiti sent men to plough some of the confiscated land. In response, the government arrested Te Whiti and other leaders. After trial in New Plymouth, Te Whiti, Titokowaru and eight others were sent to Wellington aboard the Hinemoa.[7] Te Whiti was held in the Terrace Gaol for two and a half months before his Supreme Court trial.[8] Te Whiti appeared before Chief Justice Sir James Prendergast, the same Chief Justice who called the Treaty of Waitangi a “simple nullity” in 1877.[9] Te Whiti maintained that he had merely entered onto his own land.

Te Whiti was sentenced to three months’ imprisonment and fined £100.[10] While in prison, Te Whiti was frequently visited by Taare Waitara, a rich Atiawa part-European landowner from Wellington. Waitara married Te Whiti’s daughter and helped develop Parihaka with his finances.[11] Te Whiti’s return journey to Parihaka was “leisurely” and “royal” as he passed through Waikanae , Otaki and Whanganui.[12]

Te Whiti remained an advocate for Māori land rights and peace until his death in 1907.

The memorial outside the Dominion Museum

A Place to Remember

At Pukeahu War Memorial Park, on the north-west corner of the old Dominion Museum building, there is a memorial dedicated to the people of Taranaki and Parihaka who were imprisoned in the Mount Cook barracks. The memorial represents a prisoner wrapped up in a blanket. The base of the monument is formed of stones from Taranaki. As you wander through the city, this is the perfect spot to take a moment to reflect on the Parihaka history of struggle and on the legacy of peace.

Event:  

Bridget Williams Books Winter Series: Parihaka: Plunder and Aftermath with Hon. Mahara Okeroa and Dr. Rachel Buchanan

Monday 5 November, 6:00 – 7:20 pm (doors open 5.30 pm)

National Library of New Zealand, Corner Molesworth and Aitken Streets, Thorndon, Wellington

Join Taranaki kaumātua and Treaty negotiator Hon. Mahara Okeroa (Taranaki, Te Ātiawa) and Dr. Rachel Buchanan (Taranaki, Te Ātiawa), author of BWB Text Ko Taranaki Te Maunga, at the National Library for the anniversary of te pāhuatanga, the invasion of Parihaka.

Recommended Reading:

Ko Taranaki te maunga by Rachel Buchanan

Ask that Mountain: the story of Parihaka by Dick Scott

Te Whiti O Rongomai and the Resistance of Parihaka by Danny Keenan

Parihaka : The Art of Passive Resistance

[1] G. W. Rusden History of New Zealand (Melville, Mullen and Slade: 1895), p.218. quoted in Bernard Gadd, ‘The Teachings of Te Whiti O Rongomai, 1831-1907,’ The Journal of the Polynesian Society Volume 75 (1966).

[2] Hikoi Ki Te Waipounamu (2000), p.8.

[3] Deena Coster, ‘Peace Hikoi to Parihaka Presents New Possibilities for Partnership between Maori and Pakeha,’ Stuff (2016) https://www.stuff.co.nz/taranaki-daily-news/80694456/peace-hikoi-to-parihaka-presents-new-possibilities-for-partnership-between-maori-and-pakeha

[4] Parihaka Memorial, (Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Herritage, 2015) https://mch.govt.nz/pukeahu/park/significant-sites/parihaka-memorial

[5] Danny Keenan, Te Whiti O Rongomai and the Resistance of Parihaka (Huia Publishers, 2015), pp.220-224.

[6] Danny Keenan, Te Whiti, p.224.

[7] Dick Scott, Ask That Mountain: The Story of Parihaka, pp.152-153.

[8] Danny Keenan, Te Whiti, pp.224-225.

[9] ‘Chief Justice declares treaty “worthless” and a “simple nullity” (Ministry for Culture and Heritage, 2018) https://nzhistory.govt.nz/the-chief-justice-declares-that-the-treaty-of-waitangi-is-worthless-and-a-simple-nullity

[10] Dick Scott, Ask That Mountain, p.153.

[11] Dick Scott, Ask That Mountain, p.153.

[12] Dick Scott, Ask That Mountain, p.153.

Fiction showcase: The origins of the Ripping Yarn novel

Ripping Yarns map graphic

Our featured fiction showcase of books for September is called Ripping Yarns in which we have selected novels that share the common thread of being rip-roaring, adrenaline pumping tales of action and adventure, and are usually tales of daring and heroism. Today we have interpreted the term to cover a wide selection of authors, genres and writing styles.

The genre originated in the Victorian times with authors like Jules Verne, Robert Louis Stevenson and Arthur Conan Doyle and was subsequently continued by writers like H. G. Wells, Jack London, Edgar Rice Burroughs and John Buchan. Now the term is so wide it covers everything from science fiction to crime and general fiction and a whole host of sub-genres. The only linking factor is the author’s commitment to tell a rattling good adventure story. So with all that in mind, we thought we would feature a selection of the classic authors in this selection. These selections can also be found on Overdrive and in the physical library collections in the fiction section.

Syndetics book coverThe mysterious island / Jules Verne ; with an introduction by R.G.A. Dolby.
Jules Verne (1828-1905) is internationally famous as the author of a distinctive series of adventure stories describing new travel technologies which opened up the world and provided means to escape from it. The collective enthusiasm of generations of readers of his ‘extraordinary voyages’ was a key factor in the rise of modern science fiction.
“In The Mysterious Island a group of men escape imprisonment during the American Civil War by stealing a balloon. Blown across the world, they are air-wrecked on a remote desert island. In a manner reminiscent of Robinson Crusoe, the men apply their scientific knowledge and technical skill to exploit the island’s bountiful resources, eventually constructing a sophisticated society in miniature. The book is also an intriguing mystery story, for the island has a secret.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe bottle imp : in English and Samoan / Robert Louis Stevenson ; introduced by Roger G. Swearingen ; edited by Robert Hoskins.
“Robert Louis Stevenson considered his supernatural short story ‘The Bottle Imp’ one of his best. A Faustian folktale transplanted to the Pacific, ‘The Bottle Imp’ was the only one of Stevenson’s works to be translated into a Polynesian language in his lifetime, as the Samoan O le Fagu Aitu. Featuring an extensive introduction by Stevenson scholar Roger G Swearingen, and accompanied by the original illustrations, this edition is the first to publish the English and Samoan versions together.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe return of Sherlock Holmes ; & His last bow / Arthur Conan Doyle ; with an afterword by David Stuart Davies.
“Three years after his supposed death at the Reichenbach Falls, Sherlock Holmes returns to 221B Baker Street, to the astonishment of Dr Watson and the delight of readers worldwide. From kidnapped heirs to murder by harpoon, Holmes and Watson have their work cut out for them in these brilliant later tales. This collection also includes His Last Bow, a series of recollections from an older Sherlock Holmes of further adventures from his life. (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe thirty-nine steps / John Buchan ; with and introduction and notes by Sir John Keegan.
“Richard Hannay has just returned to England after years in South Africa and is thoroughly bored with his life in London. But then a murder is committed in his flat, just days after a chance encounter with an American who had told him about an assassination plot which could have dire international consequences. An obvious suspect for the police and an easy target for the killers, Hannay goes on the run in his native Scotland where he will need all his courage and ingenuity to stay one step ahead of his pursuers.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTarzan of the apes / Edgar Rice Burroughs ; edited with an introduction and notes by Jason Haslam.
“Tarzan first came swinging through the jungle in the pages of a pulp-fiction magazine in 1912, and subsequently in the novel that went on to spawn numerous film and other adaptations. In its pages we find Tarzan’s origins: how he is orphaned after his parents are marooned and killed on the coast of West Africa, and is adopted by an ape-mother. He grows up to become a model of physical strength and natural prowess, and eventually leader of his tribe.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe time machine / H.G. Wells.
“Late in the nineteenth century, a Victorian scientist shows his disbelieving dinner guests a device he claims is a Time Machine. Respectable London scarcely has the imagination to cope with him. A week later they reconvene to find him ragged, exhausted and garrolous. The tale he tells is of the year 802,701 – of life as it is lived in exactly the same spot in what once had been London. He has visited the future of the human race and encountered beings that are elfin, beautiful, vegetarian, and leading a life of splendid idleness. But this is not the only lifeform that exists in Eden – in the tunnels beneath paradise lurks man’s darker side.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Ripping Yarns promo iamge

Take a look at our Tartan Noir

Scottish crime novels cover a wide diversity of styles and themes. Ranging from gritty neo-realistic urban crime novels, exemplified by writers like Stuart McBride, to a much more genteel pastoral style from M. C. Beaton and Joyce Holm. There are also mavericks in the genre, people like Christopher Brookmyre, who taps into a rich and deep vein of black Scottish satirical humour in his thrilling works. Another person who explores different aspects of the genre is Paul Johnson, whose body politic merges the genres of crime and science fiction in a peculiarly Scottish fashion. Perhaps one of the best indicators for the popularity is the large variety of works translated into film and television series, such as M. C. Beaton’s Hamish Macbeth. 

If you’d like to give these authors a try, check out our Tartan Noir display in the Fiction area at Central Library on the ground floor. Our displays change around frequently, so now is the perfect time to come and browse these Scottish crime authors all in one place.

Keen to try some of these authors online? Wellington City Libraries’ collection on Overdrive has a Tartan Noir list with audiobooks and eBooks free to download or listen to online.

Wellington is welcoming Scottish crime author Denise Minain a LitCrawl event in early September. This will be a chance to hear one of Scotland’s great contemporary writers, don’t miss out!


Bloody Scotland
“A collection of crime stories set in iconic Scottish structures.” (Catalogue)
From Edinburgh Castle to the Fourth Bridge these short stories from a range of authors will introduce you to well known Scottish places through the voices of Scottish crime writers including Val McDermid, Doug Johnstone, Stuart MacBride and more.

Death of a nurse / Beaton, M. C
“James Harrison has recently moved to a restored hunting lodge in Sutherland with his gorgeous private nurse Gloria Dainty. When Hamish visits Mr Harrison to welcome him to the neighbourhood, the old man treats him very rudely. Gloria apologises for her employer’s behaviour, and Hamish invites her out for dinner. Hamish waits for Gloria at the appointed restaurant. And waits. But Gloria never shows up. Four days later, her body washes up on the beach near Braikie. Hamish must find out who killed the beautiful new resident of Sutherland, and why, before the murderer strikes again.” (Catalogue)

Want you gone / Brookmyre, Christopher
“What if all your secrets were put online? Sam Morpeth is growing up way too fast, left to fend for a younger sister with learning difficulties when their mother goes to prison. But Sam learns what it is to be truly powerless when a stranger begins to blackmail her online. Meanwhile, reporter Jack Parlabane has finally got his career back on track, but his success has left him indebted to a volatile source on the wrong side of the law. Thrown together by a mutual enemy, Sam and Jack are about to discover they have more in common than they realise – and might be each other’s only hope.” (Catalogue)

Missing link / Holms, Joyce
“A puzzling new case for sparkling detective duo Fizz and Buchanan. Always in search of a good story, Fizz Fitzgerald finds it hard to hide her impatience when elderly Mrs. Sullivan is shown into her office. Genteel and motherly, Mrs. Sullivan can only spell one thing: boredom. Fizz is more than shocked, therefore, when Mrs. Sullivan asks Fizz to help prove her guilty of murder. Could this story be too good to be true? Fizz is determined to get to the bottom of this mystery and ropes in long-suffering partner-in-crime, Tam Buchanan.” (Catalogue)

Skeleton blues : a Quint Dalrymple mystery / Johnston, Paul
“Independent Edinburgh, spring 2034. The weather’s balmy, there’s a referendum on whether to join a reconstituted Scotland coming up — and a tourist is found garotted. As usual, maverick detective Quint Dalrymple is called in to do the Council of City Guardians’ dirty work. For the first time in his career, Quint is stumped by the complexity of the case. An explosion at the City Zoo is followed by the discovery of another body, and the prime suspect is nowhere to be found.” (Catalogue)

The long drop : a novel / Mina, Denise
“William Watt’s wife, daughter, and sister-in-law are dead, slaughtered in their own home in a brutal crime that scandalized Glasgow. Despite an ironclad alibi, police zero in on Watt as the primary suspect, but he maintains his innocence. Distraught and desperate to clear his name, Watt puts out a bounty for information that will lead him to the real killer. Based on true events, The long drop is an explosive, unsettling novel about guilt, innocence and the power of a good story to hide the difference.” (Catalogue)

Wellington author interview: Pip Adam

Author image by Victoria Birkinshaw

Spacious open plan living. Nest or invest. Classy urban retreat. If you’ve spent a bit of time browsing real estate brochures, you’ve probably read these words before. But there’s another, darker story of renting and home ownership in New Zealand, one without floor plans or glossy full-page photos: The New Animals, by Pip Adam.

Adam’s work has appeared in a range of journals and anthologies, with her short story collection Everything We Hoped For published in 2010 and her debut novel I’m Working on a Building in 2013. She’s been described as “the woman who is making literature subversive fun in this country again… The most wired-in to the seething discontent below the housing bubble.” So put down the brochure and get a copy of The New Animals today!

The blurb for The New Animals references intergenerational tension, however the story also looks at tensions of class, wealth and gender. What was it like shaping a story around these conflicts?

I always think conflict and complexity give ‘life’ to stories. It seems like a boringly obvious thing to say but it is also constantly a surprise to me. I often use writing to sort out things that confuse me about life and I guess confusion is often a state of conflict for me – one idea against another, or maybe things acting in ways that don’t gel with my world view that cause a disruption to the things I believe and understand. For me it is always scary writing about people who I am not, but I have always loved the idea of trying to imagine myself into a mindset that seems confusing to me. Like often I might see someone do something and I have this idea that people always act in ways they see as ‘good’ or ‘right’. I’ve met lots of people and no one ever seems to make decisions by thinking ‘this is wrong thing to do’, even people who have broken the law. So yeah, I am always interested in trying to imagine myself into a mindset that would see decisions I see as odd as the ‘right’ decision.​ I enjoyed it particularly in this work because it was a bit like Sudoko or those tile puzzles, where someone would act and there would be a domino tumble of other people being forced to act.

You recently talked about your relationship with fashion – its power and ability to answer societal questions, but also its environmental impact. How did you approach this in The New Animals, especially with fashion playing such a large role in the story?

I am really interested in design of all types, particularly the form and function, or form versus function. Before I started the book I had this love of fashion which I think was a hangover from my hairdressing days. Like I loved seeing how fashion changed and yeah, also I really like looking at beautiful things. For this book I started taking a more intense interest. I became a rampant foll​ower of fashionable people and people in the fashion industry. I just consumed everything I could. I visited shops as well, touched the clothes, saw them on the hangar and on people. I was also really interested in the history of fashion and some of the theories around fashion. I am especially obsessed with the work of Rei Kawakubo and the way she deconstructs the human form. I love the play of her work but also the real seriousness and almost horror of some of her work. I am also quite obsessed with Alexander McQueen’s life and work – in a lot of cases the violence of it. One of the hard things about writing about fashion is that it is often talked about in quite ‘light’ ways. I had to read very deeply to find the language that had weight and importance. There is a risk that fashion can seem shallow because, I think, it is ephemeral and seems to be about adornment when often it is about so much more.

The New Animals is very grounded in Auckland. How do you think the city’s geography helped with the story?

I really love Auckland. I grew up there and I visit a lot.​ It’s interesting you ask about geography because I think it is a really interesting city that way. Like you have that massive volcanic basin that is the harbour and then you have that network of volcanoes that have formed Mt Wellington and Mt Eden and, yeah, I often think of Auckland as this volatile place. My parents live close to Stonefields which is a development built on the site of an old quarry. Auckland has this feeling for me of land acted on. Land in flux, land in change and to me this book is a lot about that, about change and fluidity and evolution and I think walking around Auckland, travelling over it which I did heaps of for this book it’s impossible not to feel that. For instance, the train I catch a lot from Glen Innes travels over the Orakei Basin, this incredibly changeable place. If the tide is in, it looks like a body of water, but when the tide is out it transforms into this muddy almost wasteland. Everything that was covered by the water is exposed. I like that as an image as well, the way things can be exposed by changes in environment. Tides are a big part of my thinking around this book. The way the moon pulls these huge bodies of water around, the way they kind of create these weather patterns deep below us. And then don’t even get me started about how humans began as fish, how the ocean must have some strange pull on us still.

One aspect that really stood out was the friendship between Carla and Duey, with the contrast between their interactions and their personal thoughts, and their awareness of the friendship’s decline. Was this relationship a difficult one to write?

For a long time, in the writing process, Carla and Duey had been lovers and it just wasn’t doing what I wanted it to do. We so often place the ‘sex’ relation above all other intimate relationships. I am really interested in friendship. I find it so interesting. What keeps friendships alive is so complicated but also so purely unselfish. I liked the idea that Carla and Duey were at a stage where the relationship (as if it were a separate thing from the two people in it) was in decline, like despite all their care and thought for each other nothing was going to save it. It was difficult to write because I don’t read many books about friendships that are like that, so in a way the models I had were very much about love and sex relationships. So it took some sorting out, like some real close work. The other thing that I loved about writing that relationship is that I think it is pretty cool how humans can think one thing and then act in a better way. I love how we do that for each other. I guess also, finally, I was interested in deconstructing some of the ‘work’ we do in human relationships. Like, I find people pretty confusing sometimes, a lot of the relating stuff doesn’t come automatically to me. So, I am often thinking a lot about what the right thing to say is or what a person is saying (like actually saying). It was fun to make some of that work apparent, to sort of uncover that and show it.

Reviews of The New Animals have generated some discussion about New Zealand literature and the reviewing process. What has it been like seeing the passion your work has brought out in people?

Writing is a weird thing. I really like the part of writing that takes place in a room by myself. I love working on something, like really working on something – crafting it and messing it up and having to fix it and ​living with it. I find I get so ‘into’ that work (like I literally feel like I climb inside the story) that I forget that other people will read it. So yeah, sometimes publication is a bit of a shock. Like I remember after my first book was published someone I didn’t know said to me, ‘I read your book,’ and I was like, ‘I never said you could.’ I just forget that people will read it. So, it’s pretty amazing when people I respect say they like what I’ve written. People will email me and tell me in person and it means heaps because I’ve sort of ‘shown my hand’ as a human. I’ve said, ‘I made this. I think this is how life is awesome,’ and when someone says, ‘I see what you’ve made and it made me think this is how I think life is awesome,’ that is just incredible. I love how art can do that and I’m not sure much else can. I put a lot of stake in passion. I love the way, in my life, I have been granted the opportunity to come into contact with many people who make me feel passionate and I just get fired up about the idea that our work sort of sparks off each other. Like no matter what is going on. No matter what other people are saying about our work, we can sustain ourselves. It’s like the biggest collaboration. Because although I love those times by myself working, I am never far from the work of others, I will be reading those writers to keep me going, to keep me passionate.

Pip Adam's The New Animals