New Fiction from Aotearoa New Zealand

This Mortal Boy book cover

New to the world, or new to Wellington City Libraries, these titles from local authors showcase a range of talents, beginning with Fiona Kidman’s new book about the ‘jukebox killer’ in Auckland in 1955. These tales explore New Zealand influences through eras and locations influencing lives we can recognise and feel kinship with.

This mortal boy / Kidman, Fiona
“Albert Black, known as the ‘jukebox killer’, was only twenty when he was convicted of murdering another young man in a fight at a milk bar in Auckland on 26 July 1955. His crime fuelled growing moral panic about teenagers, and he was to hang less than five months later, the second-to-last person to be executed in New Zealand. But what really happened? Was this a love crime, was it a sign of juvenile delinquency? Or was this dark episode in our recent history more about our society’s reaction to outsiders?” (Catalogue)

The new animals / Adam, Pip
“Carla, Sharon and Duey have worked in fashion for longer than they care to remember, for them, there’s nothing new under the sun. They’re Generation X: tired, cynical and sick of being used. Tommy, Cal and Kurt are Millenials, they’ve come from nowhere, but with their monied families behind them they’re ready to remake fashion. They represent the new sincere, the anti-irony. Both generations are searching for a way out, an alternative to their messed-up reality. Pip Adam’s new novel walks the streets of Auckland city now, examining the fashion scene, intergenerational tension and modern life with an unflinching eye.” (Catalogue)

Death actually : Death. Love. And in between. / Fenwicke, Rosy
“Maggie never wanted to go into the family business, but when her parents die suddenly and her husband has abandoned her and their two children, what choice does she have? So she becomes a funeral director.” (Catalogue)
Set in Queenstown this book encompasses family trials and trivialities with good humour and great characters.

The new ships / Duignan, Kate
“Peter Collie is adrift in the wake of his wife’s death. His attempts to understand the turn his life has taken lead him back to the past, to dismaying events on an Amsterdam houseboat in the seventies, returning to New Zealand and meeting Moira, an amateur painter who carried secrets of her own, and to a trip to Europe years later with his family. An unexpected revelation forces Peter to navigate anew his roles as a husband, father and son. Set in Wellington after the fall of the Twin Towers, and traversing London, Europe and the Indian subcontinent, The New Ships is a mesmerising book of blood-ties that stretch across borders. A novel of acute moral choices, it is a rich and compelling meditation on what it means to act, or to fail to act.” (Catalogue)

Designer days : a story set in Thorndon, Wellington, 2009 / Mercer, R. D.
“‘Down into the dark cave’ Laura says to her baby, pushing the buggy into the underpass. Cave paintings? Yes, indeed, but among them some writing she does not expect to find. Laura and Eddie both resist being constrained by the timetables of office or school. They want the freedom to design their own days. Laura, an IT specialist, craves domesticity. Eddie resents being moved to High School in Wellington. Laura’s husband, Matt, begins to behave curiously.” (Catalogue)

The man who writes the dreams / Barrett, Pera
“A story about following dreams. People have stopped turning their dreams into done-things. Luckily for us, the man who writes the dreams is here to make things right.” (Catalogue)

Equinoctial gales : a story set in Wellington, 1939 / Mercer, R. D.
“There were those who liked to refer to the shopping area of Kelburn as ‘the village’. It gave it status. Did they have in mind some impossible idyll of an English village of established families, in which people knew their place and weather was predictable? The reality of Kelburn in 1930s New Zealand could not have been more different.  A chance event, a “sudden death”, connects the characters in one way or another… But no-one living in Wellington can ignore the weather. They are all affected by its fickleness, its days of violence and its days of blessed calm.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Alternative medicine / Solomon, Laura
“The stories in Alternative Medicine can be broadly defined as black comedy with a twist of surrealism… In ‘The Killing Jar’ a boy’s spider spies on his adulterous father and reports back to its owner. In ‘The New Heart’ a man experiences somebody else’s memories after receiving a heart transplant. The story ‘Mandy’ features a strangely obsessed protagonist. Everyday sadness at a refugee going blind is sketched out in ‘Blindness’. Childhood relationships are depicted in the short story ‘Pets’ and in ‘Piano Lessons/War Stories’ the narrator reflects upon her grandfather’s time fighting in World War 2.  The stories show human life in various forms and endeavours.” (Adapted from catalogue)

Hilary and David / Solomon, Laura
“In Hilary and David, David, a lonely elderly struggling novelist, contacts Hilary, with whom he has a friend in common, via Facebook, and an unlikely friendship develops via a series of messages. The two begin to share details of their past and current lives. Hilary is a solo mother with two children. One of the children has Down’s Syndrome and the other has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Both are struggling… Through a series of messages, Hilary and David share their thoughts on life, the universe, men, women and everything else in between and provide companionship and advice for one another.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Catch up on the latest fiction from New Zealand writers

New Zealand writers are featured in this month’s ‘Other Genres’ selection of new material. There are several historical novels that bring into focus New Zealand’s political, cultural and social development over the last century. As well as a fabulous new Ngaio Marsh murder mystery completed by award winning author Stella Duffy and a new work from award-winning author Charlotte Grimshaw called Mazarine.

Syndetics book coverMoney in the morgue / Ngaio Marsh & Stella Duffy.
“Roderick Alleyn is back in this unique crime novel begun by Ngaio Marsh during the Second World War and now completed by Stella Duffy. It’s business as usual for Mr Glossop as he does his regular round delivering wages to government buildings scattered across New Zealand’s lonely Canterbury plains. But when his car breaks down he is stranded for the night at the isolated Mount Seager Hospital, with the telephone lines down, a storm on its way and the nearby river about to burst its banks. Trapped with him at Mount Seager are a group of quarantined soldiers with a serious case of cabin fever, three young employees embroiled in a tense love triangle, a dying elderly man, an elusive patient whose origins remain a mystery … and a potential killer. When the payroll disappears from a locked safe and the hospital’s death toll starts to rise faster than normal, can the appearance of an English detective working in counterespionage be just a lucky coincidence – or is something more sinister afoot?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSix murders? : the strange case of the Welly alley strangler / by Robert Philip Bolton.
“When Faith and her husband accidentally get involved in the weird life of Ponytail O’Gorman – a beguiling old fraudster – they have no idea how much he will disrupt their peaceful life in suburban Kilbirnie. But he convinces them to help him in his strange quest to find both his friend from prison, Simple Simon, and his own missing cell phone which is being sought by a bunch of desperate crooks as well as by the head of Wellington CIB. Determined to help the strangely charming little con-man – and so discover the truth about the notorious Welly Alley Strangler – they get carried along to a secretive location in beautiful Martinborough. In the process Faith confronts a collection of odd characters, who unknown to her were part of her husband’s life as a prison guard.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

A thin slice of heaven / Paul Wah.
“A historical novel recounting the adventures of the author’s great-grandfather, Ng Leung Kee, who migrated to New Zealand in 1880 and set up a successful Chinese merchant business in Wellington. Ng Leung Kee returned to Tiansum, China in 1922, to take his grandson Leslie to receive a Chinese education. They faced significant challenges, including the kidnapping of Leslie by bandits, during a period of tumultuous political, economic and social conditions in China.”
(Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMazarine / Charlotte Grimshaw.
“From award-winning author Charlotte Grimshaw, this is a beautifully evocative, sensual portrayal of a woman’s search for freedom and love. When her daughter vanishes during a heatwave in Europe, writer Frances Sinclair embarks on a hunt that takes her across continents and into her own past. What clues can Frances find in her own history, and who is the mysterious Mazarine? Following the narrative thread left by her daughter, she travels through cities touched by terrorism and surveillance, where the concept of relatedness is subtly changed, and a startling new fiction seems to be constructing itself.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe man who would not see / Rajorshi Chakraborti.
“When family suddenly becomes your greatest challenge, mystery, rediscovery . As children in Calcutta, Ashim and Abhay made a small mistake that split their family forever. Thirty years later, Ashim has re-entered his brother’s life, with blame and retribution on his mind. It seems nothing short of smashing Abhay’s happy home will make good the damage from the past. At least, this is what Abhay and his wife Lena are certain is happening. A brother has travelled all the way from small-town India to New Zealand bearing ancient – and false – grudges, and with the implacable objective of blowing up every part of his younger brother’s life. Reconciliation was just a Trojan horse. But is Ashim really the villain he appears to be, or is there a method to his havoc?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Crystal ReignCrystal reign / Kelly Lyndon.
“Former Navy Lieutenant Commander and MMA instructor David Johnson has it all: an amazing wife, three beautiful kids and a great job. He’s the man who can handle anything, and anyone – until his wife Chrissie is introduced to methamphetamine at a friend’s New Year’s Eve party. Slowly but surely, everything David has worked for and believed in is dramatically eroded as Chrissie’s addiction takes hold. Then Chrissie disappears without a trace. In his effort to find her, David gets drawn into the dark world of meth. As the months pass, he becomes more and more afraid that she has been killed, and that the police will suspect him for her murder. The story of one man’s fight to save his family from the drug that is engulfing and destroying New Zealand society.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Eye of the SongbirdEye of the songbird / Michael Munro.
“What happens when a New Zealand team of scientists find one of the world¿s largest flawless diamonds on the last piece of sovereign-less land Antarctica. She ¿s the target, Songbird, the woman he’s been told to bring down and here she is swinging helpless in a crevasse in Antarctica. What should Kirk Barnby, New Zealand secret service agent, do? Cut the rope? In this taut and exciting clash between environmental activism and nation-state determination, which ranges from Antarctica, Hong Kong, London, Istanbul and Wellington, two very determined people have to make a choice – political or personal?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA tale of love / Linda Lê ; translated from the French by Sian Robyns.
“Ylane and Ivan meet for the first time in the library of a psychiatric hospital, falling instantly and deeply in love. In the shelter of the clinic they find happiness, but release into the outside world is frightening and love becomes a struggle as reality intrudes. And yet this reality strangely has more in common with a fairy tale with its monsters and lost children and one true love. And like a fairy tale, there is always the sense of the narrator watching and writing it all down. This is a novel as much about the power of reading and writing to transform as it is about the transformation of love. Both give the young lovers the opportunity to recover and recreate themselves, but Ylane and Ivan discover that just as there are always two sides to a page, so there is no single answer to the questions that besiege them.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBoundary / by Paul W. Feenstra.
“July 1839, without the knowledge of the English Government, the ship Tory, stealthily departed Plymouth, determined to reach New Zealand with the utmost speed. The objective, to purchase millions of acres of lands at the lowest possible price and then build the perfect society. The New Zealand Company called the first settlement Britannia, a civilization without the shortcomings and failings of a troubled English culture. On board the Tory, a young Scottish couple indentured to the New Zealand Company are excited at the prospect of beginning a new life, Britannia is the Utopia they’ve been promised. This is the story of adversity, the struggle to survive in the hardships of a new colony, and their fight to preserve morality and integrity in the face of greed, deception and injustice.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTe korero ahi kā : To speak of the home fires burning / edited by Grace Bridges, Lee Murray, Aaron Compton.
“Here, between the realms of the Sky Father and Earth Mother, hellhounds race, ghosts drift aimless, and the taniwha stalks. Home fires drive them back, at the same time sparking stories and poems that traverse seconds, eons, and parsecs. Tales of gatekeepers, cloak wearers, and secret keepers. Of pigs with AK-47s or ruby-hued eyes, of love-struck moa, and unruly reflections. Stark truths, and beautiful possibilities…Te Korero Ahi Ka, a term which means to speak of the home fires burning, is an anthology of science fiction, fantasy, and horror, showcasing work from both established and emerging members of the SpecFicNZ organisation of writers, poets, artists, and creatives. It is a statement about how New Zealand creators of speculative fiction and art shine their light on our literary landscape.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

New books in the library’s NZ collection

How We Met

Come for the quiet reading spaces on the second floor at Central Library and find something interesting amongst these selected new books of the New Zealand collection. This month you can find studies of love and loss, study our kiwi language and our literature, find out how a graffiti project became a monument and find new insights into Pacifica history from Cook to the dawn raids.

Syndetics book coverHow we met : the ways great love begins… / Michèle A’Court.
How We Met is based on a collection of ‘How We Met’ stories – those lovely stories couples love to tell (and we all love to hear) about how they got together – The author’s theory: that these stories of how couples meet – the romantic, absurd, serendipitous, convoluted, scandalous, breath-taking moments of connection – help to weave their lives together. Partly as ‘proof’ that they were meant to begin this couple-journey, and also because in each retelling they go back to those first falling-in-love feelings and rekindle the passion. Michele then tests her theory out on a neuroscientist and a psychologist, and by the end of the book has some useful things to say not only about how great love starts, but how it stays great.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSorrows of a century : interpreting suicide in New Zealand, 1900-2000 / John C. Weaver.
“Focusing on New Zealand because it has the most comprehensive and accessible coroners’ records, Weaver analyzes a staggering amount of information to determine the social and cultural factors that contribute to suicide rates. He examines the country’s investigations into sudden deaths, places them within the context of major events and societal changes, and turns to witnesses’ statements, suicide notes, and medical records to remark on prevention strategies.” (Publisher information)

Syndetics book coverKiwi speak / Justin Brown.
“Do you speak Nu Zild? In Kiwi Speak, bestselling author Justin Brown eavesdrops at the dinner table, the school yard, the farm and the sports club to bring us an entertaining dictionary of phrases and expressions – the often hilarious, sometimes baffling New Zealandisms we use in everyday life.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPoetry and Exile : Letters from New Zealand 1938-1948
“German-Jewish poet Karl Wolfskehl spent the last years of his life, from 1938 to 1948, in Auckland, New Zealand, on the globe’s last island reef, as a refugee from Nazi Germany. The conditions of his life forced him to consider the very nature of human existence, and his letters from New Zealand amount to an intellectual autobiography. During his Auckland years Wolfskehl got to know the formative generation of New Zealand writers:Frank Sargeson, R. A. K. Mason, A. R. D. Fairburn (who dedicated his Poems 1929-1941 to Wolfskehl),Denis Glover and the acolytes of the Caxton Press and, to a lesser degree, Allen Curnow.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Bulford Kiwi : the kiwi we left behind / Colleen Brown.
“Little known story from after WW1, when NZ troops waited months in Sling Camp in southern England after the war ended to get a ship home. Rioting in the camp led to plans to keep troops busy by cutting a giant Kiwi into the chalk hill behind the camp. The Bulford Kiwi has become a monument built by soldiers, not governments, for themselves and their mates. In 2017 the Bulford Kiwi was made a protected heritage site by UK government.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDiscoveries : the voyages of Captain Cook / Nicholas Thomas.
“Cook’s great voyages marked the end of an era in world history. As he sailed into Hawaii in January 1778 he made contact with the last of the human civilizations to grow up independently of the rest of the world. But equally for the Polynesians and Melanesians of the Pacific, Cook’s arrival in their midst merely marked a further (if disastrous) twist in diverse histories already many centuries old. In this immensely enjoyable and absorbing book Cook’s journeys are reimagined, attempting to leave behind (or master) our later preoccupations to let us see what Cook and his associates experienced and what the societies he encountered experienced.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDawn Raids
“Tension is rising in 1970s New Zealand. Muldoon’s government is cracking down on illegal immigration and the notorious dawn raids are ripping Pasifika families from their beds. At the eye of this political storm, everyday New Zealanders like Sione struggle to keep their families united. Fuarosa, the family’s resident overstayer, fights against the chaos to keep hold of her freedom, and Sione’s sister Teresa might be getting in too deep with black rights activists. First staged in 1997, Dawn Raids is just as confronting and relevant now as it has ever been. Oscar Kightley pulls no punches and brings the play to life with his trademark hilarity and wit.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSeek and destroy : the history of 3 Squadron RNZAF / Paul Harrison.
“In 2015 No.3 Squadron Royal New Zealand Air Force celebrated 50 years of continuous helicopter operations since it reformed in August 1965. Seek and Destroy is the official history of the machines and personnel that make up the colourful and wide-ranging operations of this unique squadron, which was first formed in 1930 and whose aircraft and personnel have seen service all around the world from the UK to Asia, the Pacific and the Antarctic. This illustrated hardback brings together anecdotal stories of the operations and exercises conducted during the past 50 years, including numerous civil defence and peacekeeping activities.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe New Zealand Wars / Philippa Werry.
“The story of the 19th century New Zealand Wars, a part of New Zealand’s history that many people wish they knew more about. The book describes how the wars came about, where and when they were fought, who was involved, and how they affected women and children. It explains the emergence of Kīngitanga or Māori King movement, the land confiscations and the story of Parihaka. The story is told in an accessible way full of fascinating detail, eye-witness accounts, illustrations and little known facts, with lists of websites, resources and books for those who want to discover more.” (Publisher description)

Syndetics book coverTowards democratic renewal : ideas for constitutional change in New Zealand / Geoffrey Palmer and Andrew Butler, with assistance from Scarlet Roberts.
“In 2016, Sir Geoffrey Palmer and Andrew Butler proposed and published a written, codified constitution for Aotearoa New Zealand. Since then the authors have travelled the country, discussing with the public the nature of New Zealand’s identity and where the country is headed. This clear, revised constitution defines and entrenches government accountability and transparency, protects the rights of our peoples and tangata whenua, and offers transformative steps to uphold the sovereignty and integrity of Aotearoa New Zealand.” (Publisher information)

Ka nui te ranea o ngā pukapuka hou. An abundance of new books.

Being Together in Place

Ngā mihi o te ngahuru. We have an abundant and varied collection of new books for you in this whakairinga rangitaki (blog post) and there is something for everyone – from social comment to health, from poetry to history. Highlights include Urban Māori: The Second Great Migration which is a timely exploration of the twentieth century Māori migration from rural communities to cities and its impact on Māori identity, and The Moon on my Tongue a wonderful anthology of Māori poetry in English.

Syndetics book coverPou o ue / Cyrus Gregory Tauahika Hingston.
Pou o Ue is the companion book to Cyrus Hingston’s earlier Pou o Whakaue: Marae of Whakaue.  This new volume “…is a history of six marae of Rotorua: the tupuna, the whenua, the whare, the hau kainga, and their memories of the marae, the relationships to the tupuna Uenukukopako (Ue) and Te Arawa whanui.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverUrban Māori : the second great migration / Bradford Haami for Te Whānau o Waipareira.
“The post-1945 migration to the cities by Māori transformed Aotearoa New Zealand forever. Exploring what being Māori means today, author Bradford Haami looks back to the experience of the first migrants, and traces the development of an urban Maori identity over the interceding years. Photos and personal korero intersperse a very readable text.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe moon on my tongue : an anthology of Māori poetry in English / edited by Reina Whaitiri, Robert Sullivan and Ben Styles.
“From both revered, established writers and exciting contemporary poets, the work in this anthology offers a broad picture of Māori poetry written in English. There are laments for koro (elders), hopes for mokopuna (grandchildren); celebrations of the land and anger at its abuse; retellings of myth and reclamations of history.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTātai whetū : seven Māori women poets in translation / edited by Maraea Rakuraku and Vana Manasiadis.This is the fourth volume in the Seraph Press Translation Series and is a beautiful little book that celebrates Māori writing and the Māori language. The featured poets include Anahera Gildea,  Kiri Piahana-Wong, Maraea Rakuraku, and Alice Te Punga Somerville. This bilingual collection features a poem each by seven Māori women writers, originally written in English, and a translation in the Māori language.

Syndetics book coverMaea te toi ora : Māori health transformations / Te Kani Kingi, Mason Durie, Hinemoa Elder, Rees Tapsell, Mark Lawrence, Simon Bennett.
“The six contributing authors in the collection include Simon Bennett, Mason Durie, and Rees Tapsell and are all well known in the mental health field. Each discusses aspects of Maori and indigenous health and the importance of culture to diagnosis, patient history, understanding causes, treatment and assessment of outcomes.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBeing together in place : indigenous coexistence in a more than human world / Soren C. Larsen and Jay T. Johnson ; foreword by Daniel R. Wildcat.
Being Together in Place highlights the challenging, tentative, and provisional work of coexistence between Native and Non-Native peoples in relation to contested spaces such as wetlands, treaty grounds, fishing spots, recreation areas, cemeteries, heritage trails, and traditional village sites.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe New Zealand Wars / Philippa Werry.
“Describing the origins of the wars, where and when they were fought, who was involved, and who they affected, this book also examines war memorials, the work of the Waitangi Tribunal, how the wars have featured in New Zealand arts and how they are remembered today. The story is accessible and full of fascinating detail, eye-witness accounts, illustrations and little known facts, with lists of websites, resources and books for those who want to discover more.” (Adapted from the publisher description)

Syndetics book coverTe Ao Hou : the new world, 1820-1920 / Judith Binney with Vincent O’Malley and Alan Ward.
Te Ao Hou explores the history of Maori and Pakeha from about 1830. As the new world unfolded, Maori independence was hotly contested; Maori held as tightly as they could to their authority over the land, while the Crown sought to loosen it. War broke out and for Maori the consequences were devastating, and the recovery was long, framed by poverty, population decline and the economic depression of the late nineteenth century.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTe Ao Hurihuri : the changing world, 1920-2014 / Aroha Harris with Melissa Matutina Williams.
Te Ao Hurihuri shows Maori engaged in building and rebuilding their communities through the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Maori held fiercely to iwi-specific connectedness, community organisation and te reo me ona tikanga. New kinds of Maori institutions released the dynamism of tangata whenua, but the struggle continued against a background of social and economic hardship that burdens so many Maori lives.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

New books on the NZ collection display shelf

Our latest selection features books, writers and publishing. Chris MacLean tells the story of making books in New Zealand from writing to publishing, and Helen Bones ponders the idea of writers from the late nineteenth and early twentieth century having to leave New Zealand to find inspiration and success. There are also some new works of poetry from Anna Jackson and Chris Tse. From the history of a family to a history of William Colenso, there is always something in the New Zealand collection to catch your eye.

Syndetics book coverA way with words : a memoir of writing & publishing in New Zealand / Chris Maclean.
“From an early age, author and publisher Chris Maclean was told he had a way with words. This talent, which protected him from school bullies and made him a proficient debater, later became the focus of his professional life. A Way with Words tells the stories behind those volumes, all of which had challenges and rewards as various as their subjects. In candid, accessible style, and through a fascinating range of illustrations, Maclean describes the stages of book creation, from the first germ of an idea to writing, design, printing and distribution. A Way with Words is a celebration of a very New Zealand approach to writing and publishing.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe expatriate myth : New Zealand writers and the colonial world / Helen Bones.
“Many New Zealand writers in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century travelled extensively or lived overseas for a time, and they often led very interesting lives. The received wisdom is that they were forced to leave these colonial backblocks in search of literary inspiration and publishing opportunities. In The Expatriate Myth, Helen Bones presents a challenge to this conventional understanding, based on detailed historical and empirical research. Most who left New Zealand, even if they were away for a time, continued to write about and interact with their homeland, and in many cases came back. In this fascinating and clear-sighted book, Helen Bones offers a fresh perspective on some hoary New Zealand literary chestnuts.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWanted : the search for the modernist murals of E. Mervyn Taylor / edited by Bronwyn Holloway-Smith.
“Mervyn Taylor – wood engraver, painter, illustrator, sculptor and designer – was one of the most celebrated New Zealand artists of the 1930s to 1960s. He was highly connected to modernism and nationalism as it was expressed in the New Zealand art and literature of the period. Between 1956 and 1964 he created twelve murals for major new government and civic buildings erected in that era of great economic prosperity. Tragically, some have been destroyed and others presumed lost – until now. This fascinating and beautiful book, bursting with archival material, details the detective hunt for the murals and tells the stories of their creation. They cement Taylor’s place as one of New Zealand’s most significant artists, and are a celebration of the art and culture of our modernist era.” (Adapted from publisher’s website)

Syndetics book coverDear Oliver : uncovering a Pākehā history / Peter Wells.
“When writer and historian Peter Wells found a cache of family letters amongst his elderly mother’s effects, he realised that he had the means of retracing the history of a not-untypical family swept out to New Zealand during the great nineteenth-century human diaspora from Britain. His family experienced the war against Te Kooti, the Boer War, the Napier earthquake of 1931 and the Depression. They rose from servant status to the comforts of the middle class. There was army desertion, suicide, adultery, AIDS, secrets and lies. There was also success, prosperity and social status. In digging deep into their stories, examining letters from the past and writing a letter to the future, Peter Wells constructs a novel and striking way to view the history of Pakeha New Zealanders.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverhe’s so MASC / Chris Tse.
“In How to be Dead in a Year of Snakes, Chris Tse took readers back to a shocking 1905 murder. Now he brings the reader much closer to home. He’s So MASC confronts a contemporary world of self-loathing poets and compulsive liars, of youth and sexual identity, and of the author as character–pop star, actor, hitman, and much more. These are poems that delve into worlds of hyper-masculine romanticism and dancing alone in night clubs. With it’s many modes and influences, He’s So MASC is an acerbic, acid-bright, yet unapologetically sentimental and personal reflection on what it means to perform and dissect identity, as a poet and a person.” (Back cover)

Syndetics book coverPasture and flock : new & selected poems / Anna Jackson.
“Poets know words, know routes, know ghosts. Uneasy nights out with dead Russian poets, dalliances with German gasfitters and emotionally fraught games of badminton are brought together for the first time, along with a brand new body of work, in this time-spanning selection of Anna Jackson’s poetry. Local gothic, suburban pastoral and answerings-back to literary icons are all enhanced by Jackson’s light hand and sly humour. Pastoral yet gritty, intellectual and witty, sweet but with stings in their tails, the poems and sequences collected in Pasture and Flock are essential reading for both long term and new admirers of Jackson¿s slanted approach to lyric poetry.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMr Colenso’s Wairarapa : twelve journeys: 1843-1852 / Ian St George.
“William Colenso was a Victorian polymath: New Zealand’s first significant printer, liberal theologian, inspired educationalist, perceptive botanist, politician, explorer over much of the North Island: a man whose contributions to New Zealand history are amply recorded in the output from his press, his published scientific work, his own surviving publications, his many letters (including those to the editors of newspapers) and his journals and diaries. As the first missionary in Hawke’s Bay, 1843-1852, Colenso’s ‘parish’ extended west to Taupo and south to include the Wairarapa-Bush and this book records, from his own journals, his journeys on foot through the region.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverNew Zealand sign language : a reference grammar / Rachel McKee.
“One of the country’s three official languages, New Zealand Sign Language evolved in the communities that grew from networks of Deaf children at three schools for the Deaf from the late nineteenth century. The Dictionary of New Zealand Sign Language (1997) – now an invaluable online resource at nzsl.vuw.ac.nz – and the Concise Dictionary of New Zealand Sign Language (BWB, 2003) were landmarks in documenting the language. Today, NZSL forms part of the curriculum in intermediate schools, and New Zealanders are increasingly familiar with the language. Drawing on her experience of both teaching and researching NZSL, Rachel McKee has developed A Reference Grammar to support all those who are learning NZSL – students, families and friends of Deaf people, school teachers, public officials.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

New learning resources in the New Zealand collection

This month you will find lots of new language resources for learning Te Reo Māori to have a look at in the New Zealand collection. We have featured one of the 4 volumes of ‘Māori Made Easy’ workbooks and a new fun way to learn, called A Māori word a day. There is also lots of variety with books on poetry, Māori musical instruments, cycling and World War 1.

Syndetics book coverMāori made easy : for everyday learners of the Māori language. Workbook/Kete 1 / Scotty Morrison.
“The accessible guide to learning the Maori language, no matter your knowledge level.
Fun, user-friendly and relevant to modern readers, Scotty Morrison’s Maori Made Easy workbook series is the ultimate resource for anyone wanting to learn the basics of the Maori language.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA Māori word a day : 365 words to kickstart your reo / Hemi Kelly.
A Maori Word a Day offers an easy, instant and motivating entry into the Maori language. Through its 365 Maori words, you will learn the following-
– English translations – Word category, notes and background information
– Sample sentences, in both te reo Maori and English
Exploring the most common, modern and contemporary words in use today, A Maori Word a Day is the perfect way to kickstart your te reo journey!” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTaonga pūoro = Singing treasures : the musical instruments of the Māori / Brian Flintoff.
“And to further breathe life into this book, the technical information about each instrument is interwoven with the stories and myths that belong to each instrument. In addition, instructions are given for making and playing these singing treasures, and there is an explanation of the art forms used in Maori carving.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTe ahu o te reo : reflecting on research to understand the well-being of te reo Māori / co-editors, Vincent Ieni Olsen-Reeder, Jessica Hutchings, Rawinia Higgins.
Te Ahu o te reo Maori: Reflecting on Research to Understand the Well-being of te reo Maori is an edited collection of bi-lingual writings that brings together Maori researchers, writers and community language advocates who were involved in the Te Taura Whiri-funded study. Contributors include: Vini Olsen-Reeder, Professor Rawinia Higgins, Jessica Hutchings, Jen Martin, Stephanie Fong, Associate Professor Jenny Bol Jun Lee-Morgan, Eruera Lee-Morgan, Waitiahoaho Emery.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWayfinder : new & selected poems / Jan FitzGerald.
“Any reader of the literary journals of the late 1960s and ’70s would have noted the name Jan Coad. Hone Tuwhare certainly did, and James K. Baxter, from both of whom Jan received admiration and friendship. In 2005 writing under her married name, FitzGerald, Jan launched her long-gestated collection, Flying Against the Arrow (Wolfdale Press). This was followed by On a Day Like This (Steele Roberts Aotearoa, 2010). All the while, the poet was quietly maturing as an artist, and in this collection, for the first time, the two talents perform a happy tango.” (Mighty Ape summary)

Syndetics book coverThe kiwi cyclist’s guide to life / Jane King.
“The Kiwi Cyclists Guide to Life takes an inquisitive peek into the lives, minds, adventures and bike sheds, of many Kiwis from different walks of life, who love nothing better than experiencing freedom, fun, adventures and misadventures on two wheels. Whether road-racing at breakneck speed, soaring over jumps on a mountain bike in the forest, or navigating nature on a picturesque cycle trail at a more leisurely pace – many of us cant get enough of the thrills and spills that riding a bike provides. These tales are of the fun, enthusiasm and dedication of a variety of different characters – from high-profile elites, mountain biking trailblazers, BMX fanatics, cycling groups and communities, recreational riders – not forgetting the MAMIL (middle-aged man in lycra), collectors, restorers and a bunch of under-the-radar bike-nuts you’ve got to watch out for.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverJack’s journey : a soldier’s experience of the First World War / Jack Pryce ; edited by Trish McCormack and Andrew Gibson.
“When Jack Pryce sailed to war in 1915 with the Otago Infantry Battalion he was restless, wanting to “make good” of his life. Experiencing the carnage of Gallipoli and Passchendaele and other epic battles on the Western Front, he rose through the ranks to gain his commission.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAnimism in art and performance / Christopher Braddock, editor. “This book explores Māori indigenous and non-indigenous scholarship corresponding with the term ‘animism’. In addressing visual, media and performance art, it explores the dualisms of people and things, as well as ‘who’ or ‘what’ is credited with ‘animacy’. It comprises a diverse array of essays divided into four sections: Indigenous Animacies, Atmospheric Animations, Animacy Hierarchies and Sensational Animisms.” (Syndetics summary)

Recent additions to the NZ Collection

Always eclectic, new additions to the New Zealand Collection this month feature stories from a museum curator, a kiwi sanctuary, photography, poetry, the sad history of post war state care of children and lastly a murder mystery. The new book shelves of the NZ Collection have something to interest everyone.

Syndetics book coverThe unburnt egg : more stories of a museum curator / Brian Gill.
“Museum natural history collections have been called libraries of life. In The Unburnt Egg Brian Gill continues his spellbinding stories from more than thirty years as a curator. Some tales are so bizarre they read like fiction: a population of ship rats decimating the entire wildlife of an island and then collapsing; birds leaving their young to be raised by other birds; frogs and lizards living in trees and flying. Others reveal the painstaking detective work involved in solving mysteries presented by police, biosecurity agencies, government departments and members of the public. Frogs’ legs on sale as chicken, a feather hidden in a bag of sugar, a live boa constrictor on a street in snake-free New Zealand–it’s all in a day’s work.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverProject Kiwi : how one man’s passion for the land hatched New Zealand’s first community kiwi sanctuary/ Sue Hoffart.
Project Kiwi is New Zealand’s first community-led kiwi conservation project, on the Coromandel Peninsula.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThrough the eyes of a miner : the photography of Joseph Divis / Simon Nathan ; with assistance from Les Wright and Brendon Wilshire.
“Joseph Divis (1885-1967) photographed life in New Zealand mining towns where he lived and worked between 1909 and 1935. His images provide a unique record of life in some small communities, especially the now-abandoned town of Waiuta, near Reefton.” (Introduction)

Syndetics book coverThe road to hell : state violence against children in postwar New Zealand / Elizabeth Stanley.
“From the 1950s to the 1980s, the New Zealand government took more than 100,000 children from experiences of strife, neglect, poverty or family violence and placed them under state care in residential facilities. In homes like Epuni and Kingslea, Kohitere and Allendale, the state took over as parent. The state failed. Within institutions, children faced abysmal conditions, limited education and social isolation. They endured physical, sexual and psychological violence, as well as secure cells, knock-out sedatives and electro-convulsive therapy. This book tells the story of 105 New Zealanders who experienced this mass institutionalisation.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDark days at the Oxygen Café / James Norcliffe.
“James Norcliffe is one of New Zealand’s most widely published and anthologised poets. In Dark Days at the Oxygen Cafe, he looks over the shoulders of many characters and creatures, both real and imagined, and takes us deep into uncanny valleys. Poems about Seneca and James Dean sit alongside poems about a Turken dictator and an owl man. We share in a portentous UFO sighting, a small celebration for Laika the space dog, and Peter the Great being offered an Air New Zealand lolly. These scenes from myth, history, pop culture and personal experience make for a wryly funny, deeply felt collection that contemplates the quirks of shared and personal histories.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverNothing for it but to sing : poems / Michael Harlow.
“Michael Harlow’s poems are small detonations that release deeply complex stories of psychological separations and attractions, of memory and desire. Frequently they slip into the alluring spaces just at the edges of language, dream and gesture, as they carefully lower, like measuring gauges, into the ineffable: intimations of mortality, the slippery nature of identity, longing, fear … This is a beautifully honed new collection.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMister Hamilton / John Dickson.
Mister Hamilton, John Dickson’s first collection in eighteen years, is an appealing, questioning mix of elements. Over a base of South Island bedrock (granite, schist, greywacke), Dickson has peopled this quietly fiery collection with day-to-day working voices and narratives, sometimes comic, sometimes tragic, sometimes charged with a political consciousness and lyrical intensity. Shot-through with veins of jazz, rock and blues, quizzical religiosity and a streak of the absurd, this book takes a fresh look at the streets and lawns and people of urban and suburban ‘Pig Island’ and offers some thoughtful, wisely pitched and immensely likeable poems.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe black widow : how one woman got justice for her murdered brother / by Lee-Anne Cartier.
“The Black Widow almost got away with murder. But then her sister-in-law became suspicious… The infamous Black Widow case shocked the nation. An average-looking suburban housewife carefully staged her husband’s ‘suicide’. At first it looked like she might get away with murder, but then her sister-in-law, Lee-Anne Cartier, became suspicious and started gathering evidence and presenting it to the police. Helen Milner, who became known as the Black Widow, was eventually convicted of murder and is now serving out her sentence in Arohata Prison. This book tells how Lee-Anne persevered and put together many strands of information to crack the case wide open.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

New ‘Other Genres’ this month featuring New Zealand Fiction

This month we are featuring New Zealand fiction in our ‘Other Genres’ category. In this selection there is an exciting, diverse, range on novels, and some great writing. New work from two much acclaimed veteran writers Owen Marshall and Damien Wilkins are also included.

Syndetics book coverMy father’s ears / Karen Goa.
“When an Italian immigrant’s harsh but intriguing past catches up with him, his skeptical daughter Sophie sets out to discover the truth about her father, his affair with a Romanian trapeze artist and a mysterious New Zealander claiming to be his son. This twisting tale of secrets and social dilemmas is set against a remarkable and moving history of Italian immigration.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHold my teeth while I teach you to dance / Mike Johnson.
“Investigative journalist Jason Argonaut is not content to rest on his laurels and dream of past glories. No, he has to take too great an interest in his fascinating new neighbours, play the Grandfather Detective, and find himself in possession of the world best kept secret, or is it? A delicious mix of murder, mayhem and intrigue.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Image from fishpond.co.nzReturn to Lucifer Creek/ Gary Joll.
“Barry Morton is hunting illegally on Lilybank, a large property in the Southern Alps of New Zealand. He seeks a unique trophy, a pure white bull Tahr. Upon returning to his well-concealed secret camp he discovers a young woman bathing in the hot pool, a pool he believed was known only to members of his family. He is then forced to save his own life by killing two individuals wearing grey camo who clearly were intent on killing him. Barry quickly realizes this group of apparent terrorists, is killing all persons unlucky enough to encounter them. Within hours of his lethal encounter with these Grey Ghosts Barry suspects they may have killed members of the climbing party to which Helen, his unexpected camp companion, belongs. If they are to survive, Barry and Helen must play a deadly game of hide-and-seek; becoming the hunters not the hunted.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAbsence / Joanna King.
“Four sisters meet for a holiday on the spectacularly beautiful Cinque Terre Coast of Italy. One of the sisters disappears. Under the stress, the hidden emotional and sexual rivalries between the others are laid bare. For the youngest, the disappearance of her sister is a profound threat. This is the person with whom she has had the truest bond since the collapse of the family twenty years ago. Is the disappearance accidental or intentional? Have the sisters shockingly misunderstood one of their own? How radically will the missing sister’s fate alter their lives? Husbands and lovers, future hopes and the family’s past, all come under intense scrutiny in the vortex of events” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Image from fishpond.co.nzCold hard murder / Trish McCormack.
“Two people struggle on a ledge high above the surge pool at Punakaiki’s Pancake Rocks. One falls to their death, beginning a sequence of violence as Department of Conservation ranger Matt Grey announces plans for a commercial tourism venture bitterly opposed by the local community. More people die, and it seems their murders are motivated by something more personal than a threat to the integrity of the national park. But the trail is as cold and twisted as some of the park’s most labyrinthine caves. Philippa Barnes is asked to do some unofficial sleuthing, which is not welcomed by the police. She delves into the lives of some strong-willed individuals, many of whom have secrets, uncovering a dark story that resonates with events in her own life.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe death ray debacle / David McGill.
“In June 1935 Takapuna inventor Victor Penny was attacked by foreign agents seeking what the newspapers dubbed a ‘death ray’. The government secretly shifted him to Somes Island in Wellington harbour to develop the weapon. The novel of this true story is told by Temporary Acting Detective Dan Delaney, seconded to Special Branch, forerunner of the Security Intelligence Service.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLove as a stranger / Owen Marshall.
“Temporarily in Auckland while her husband is undergoing treatment, Sarah enjoys a walk in the coolness of the Symonds Street Cemetery. As she pauses at the grave of Emily Keeling, murdered in 1886 by a rejected suitor, a stranger named Hartley strikes up a conversation. Before long he arranges to meet Sarah for coffee. So their friendship begins, and soon blossoms into an affair, rich in mutual understanding and sexual excitement. But love may become obsession, which brings with it disquieting demands, even menace. When love is not madness, it is not love.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRachel’s legacy / Julie Thomas.
“The sequel to The Keeper of Secrets, following the fortunes of the Horowitz family from pre-war Berlin to the present. When Dr Kobi Voight is given a set of old letters by his mother he has no inkling that they will lead him around the world and deep into the tragic past of his family. Within the letters, written in Hebrew and filled with delicate illustrations, lie the reflections of a young Jewish woman, forced to give up her baby daughter while fighting with the Resistance in Berlin. Who is the author, known only as ‘Ruby’, and what became of her child? And how does a priceless work of art, stolen by the Nazis, form part of the unfolding mystery?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDad art / Damien Wilkins.
“It’s Wellington, now. Acoustic Engineer Michael Stirling’s old life is gone. He’s on the dating scene, learning te reo Maori, living in an upmarket apartment complex, and visiting his father who has dementia. Wearing his online dating disguise, Michael meets Chrissie, the widowed mother of a young son. Then his beloved adult daughter arrives from Auckland with a new attachment, an artist whose project will push them all towards key moments of risk and revelation.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTwister / Jane Woodham.
“March 2013. Two months before parliament is to vote on legalising gay marriage, a spate of vicious attacks on gay men erupts in Dunedin. Then a twister rips through, uncovering the body of schoolgirl, Tracey Wenlock. Former Londoner, Detective Senior Sergeant Leo Judd, is to lead the investigation, the first such enquiry since his own daughter, Beth, went missing nine years earlier. As Judd carefully uncovers the truth surrounding Tracey Wenlock’s death, the trauma associated with his own daughter’s disappearance resurfaces.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

New ‘Other Genres’ for January 2016, this month featuring New Zealand Fiction

New Zealand writers feature in this month’s selection from the new ‘Other Genres’ category. There are several debut novelists, and the fiction themes range from historical romances to psychological thrillers, from werewolves to substance abuse. Also included is the latest novel from the well-known writer Albert Wendt, titled Breaking connections.

firstnamesonlyFirst names only : a New Zealand novel / Elaine Blick.
“Janice at 18 is ambitious and has set her sights on a top degree in languages. When she finds she is pregnant Janice’s world comes crashing down, for this is 1960s New Zealand, when to be pregnant and single is a disgrace. Janice has no choice but to enter Sunnyvale, a home for unmarried mothers in Auckland. Once the baby is born the maternal tug is powerful and she longs to keep him. Can Janice bear to give up her child with the knowledge that she may never see him again?” (Adapted from Book cover)

Syndetics book coverNew beginnings at Lilyfields / Lottie Bloom.
“Lilyfields cottage has been lying empty since its previous occupant, Rosa, got married. It’s just the haven Orla Nolan is looking for. She needs to recuperate after an accident has dashed her dreams of acting in a movie that’s being filmed in a neighbouring bay. Orla is feeling lonely and dejected, but before long she is confronted by two handsome suitors. She’s spoilt for choice, except they are father and son, and while one is a touch too old and too settled for her liking, might the other be too young and too wild? Meanwhile Rosa’s former boyfriend has turned up and appears to be finding it hard to let go of his lost love. As Orla struggles to find a new role for herself at Lilyfields, will its magic deliver true love?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBackwards Into the Future / Bronwyn Elsmore
“Everyone knows you can’t go back. Everyone except Mary apparently, because here she is, back in her old hometown. That’s because of two women, Kui and Ana. One of them is pushing her, the other is holding back, and between the two there’s much to be resolved. The plum tree and the manuka have gone, but a lemon tree thrives. The mystery of the Marakihau may never be solved; but if Ana returns, their friendship and some things from the past can be recovered. Can’t they?” (Adapted from Book cover)

Syndetics book coverThe bordello girl / Hilary Murray.
“Auckland bordello owner Kitty Malloy understands men. But even she is taken aback when Silas Crawford asks her help with his young, naive wife. Twenty-three year old Thea Crawford has come to realise getting married was a terrible mistake and yearns to be free of her middle-aged over-bearing husband and his constant demands. Darius is a playboy and adventurer. A favored customer at the bordello, when Thea is blackmailed into becoming one of Kitty’s girls he sweeps her off her feet. But should she listen to the others when they tell her of his reputation? Or are his feelings for her real?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

seerswolfThe seer’s wolf / Barbara Petrie.
“It is 1952 and strange events are taking place in Loam, a small settlement in rural Canterbury, New Zealand. Ralph Randal, his wife Irena and their three daughters have immigrated to the area from England, but as they settle in, the curiosity of Clover, a neighbouring farm girl, is aroused. An air of mystery surrounds the English family, and Ralph Randal appears to dote excessively on his lovely eighteen-year-old daughter, Satina. What is really happening to cause an unsettling shadow of gloom to enshroud the community?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe exodus file / Reg Puckey.
“An American scientist discovers an asteroid made of magnetite will pass close enough to Earth to shift not just the magnetic north pole but the physical north pole as well, right into the heart of the USA. Mark Lucas chooses to brief the President about America’s ice-age fate before telling his scientific colleagues, a decision that threatens to cost him his life, his conscience and his integrity, as a national security ‘cone of silence’ descends on his discovery. At what point does political power become megalomania? If the end of the world was coming, who would you tell?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary).

Syndetics book coverThe gentlemen’s club / Jen Shieff.
“Headstrong and independent, Rita Saunders is a successful hairdresser by day and a busy brothel madam by night. The only thing missing from her life is the love of a good woman. Istvan Ziegler is a Hungarian immigrant who has come to New Zealand to work on the brand new harbour bridge project. He is full of hope and dreams of a better life. Sixteen-year-old Judith Curran has come to Auckland for an abortion. With no money or family support, she finds herself at the mercy of strangers and simply has to hope they have her best interests at heart. Becoming bound into a desperate situation involving a group of orphan girls, Rita, Judith and Istvan find fortitude they never knew they possessed. But do they have enough of it to expose the menacing orphanage director and the slice of the heartless and seedy 1950s’ underworld he inhabits?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBreaking connections : a novel / by Albert Wendt.
“A dynamic group has emerged in Auckland whose members refer to themselves as the Tribe. Mainly Polynesian, they grow up together, rise from poverty and become successful professionals, bound by love and fierce loyalty. At the centre, is Aaron, who lives at the edge of danger, shady dealings and self-destruction. When Daniel, receives a call in Hawaii telling him that Aaron has been killed, he returns to New Zealand and steps into the most dangerous crisis the Tribe has faced. They must confront the truth about who Aaron is and what they, as the Tribe, have become, and also face the infidelity and greed that threaten the cohesion of the Tribe.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Pounamu prophecy : a sweeping story of love, betrayal and hope / Cindy Williams.
“Since she watched her village burn to the ground, Mere’s life has been anything but dull. Now as an older woman she has come to stay with Helene and James to finish writing her life story, a tale of injustice, revenge and reconciliation.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHow to grow an addict : a novel / J. A. Wright.
“Randall Grange has been tricked into admitting herself into a treatment center and she doesn’t know why. She’s not a party hound like the others in her therapy group but then again, she knows she can’t live without pills or booze. Her parents introduced her to alcohol and tranquilizers at a young age, ensuring that her teenage years would be full of bad choices, and by the time she’s twenty-three years old, she’s a full-blown drug addict, well acquainted with the miraculous power chemicals have to cure just about any problem she could possibly have and she’s in more trouble than she’s ever known was possible.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

A walk down memory lane – NZ Collection Recent Picks

This month the New Zealand Collection takes a walk down memory lane with two writers reflecting on the New Zealand of their childhoods. We also get a look into the lives of conservation stalwart Alan Mark and filmmaker Geoff Murphy. Design and art feature in books on vintage paua jewellery and the Wellington based WOW phenomenon. An historical whodunit set in Taranaki at a time of uneasy race relations in the 1880’s and a blog written by a dying father for his unborn daughter bring this New Zealand Collection recent arrivals almost to an end but in light of the upcoming weekend of Rugby world cup finals the last two picks are both All Black focused.

Syndetics book coverTaking my mother to the opera / Diane Brown.
“Many readers will recognise the New Zealand so vividly portrayed here, as Brown marshals deeply personal events and childhood memories in a delightfully astute, understated personal memoir.” (Abridged back cover)

Syndetics book coverThe dreaming land / Martin Edmond.
“In the evocative prose that makes him one of our finest writers, Martin Edmond recalls his experiences of growing up in rural New Zealand in the 1950s and 60s. The son of schoolteachers, Edmond’s early life was shaped by his father’s developing career and the moves it dictated: from Ohakune, to Greytown, to Huntly, to Heretaunga. The Dreaming Land shows us the making of a thinker and a writer. Edmond documents the people, locations, and events that made a lasting impression on him, and maps the development of his mental landscape, a landscape marked by curiosity, empathy and the capacity for acute observation.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA life on film / Geoff Murphy.
“‘I’m taking this bloody car to Invercargill!’ It was the line that had cinema audiences cheering. Goodbye Pork Pie became an instant classic, and announced the arrival of a major new talent in director Geoff Murphy. With his next two films, Utu and The Quiet Earth, he cemented his reputation as a pioneer of New Zealand cinema. He’d come a long way from his days as a struggling school teacher, and then a member of a madcap band of merry pranksters known as Blerta, founded by his great friend and collaborator Bruno Lawrence. But it was the same sense of adventure – with a healthy dose of Kiwi ingenuity – that defined every stage of his career. In this candid and funny memoir, Geoff Murphy looks back on a life in (and on) film – from do-it-yourself shoots in the 1960s to epic work on Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverStanding my ground : a voice for nature conservation / Alan F. Mark
“For more than five decades, Alan Mark has been a voice for conservation in New Zealand. From his call in the 1960s for the establishment of tussock-grassland reserves in the South Island high country to his involvement in the 2011–13 campaign to save the Denniston Plateau from mining, he has been a passionate and effective advocate for the preservation of areas of ecological importance. In Standing My Ground, Alan describes the challenges and achievements, the frustrations and successes that have made up his remarkable life, now in its ninth decade. As well as providing an important record of New Zealand’s conservation battles and documenting the life of an outstanding New Zealander, Standing My Ground is an inspiring reminder of the power of individuals to make a difference.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverVintage paua shell jewellery : art souvenir, tourist kitsch, Kiwi icon / Elly van de Wijdeven.
“All vintage jewellery is collectible and none more so than that made from paua shell. No longer regarded as the tourist kitsch of yesteryear, the book explores this fascinating history and shares the many stories of how and why it came to be produced and by whom, and also who bought it and for what reason, whether as a souvenir of New Zealand or to commemorate a special place or event. The accompanying narrative traces its roots from the Classic pre-European Maori period, through the years of its main production in New Zealand from the 1920s to the 1980s, before the market was flooded by cheap, mass-produced imports, to its present status as Kiwi icon.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWorld of WearableArt : 30 designers tell their stories / text by Naomi Arnold.
“First book from the World of WearableArt with a serious text that focuses on the designers and their stories. Unprecedented interest in WOW, now in its 27th year, with an annual audience of over 45,000 attending the Awards Show in Wellington. Very appealing as an inspirational book for artists, designers, students and craftspeople.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe many deaths of Mary Dobie : murder, politics and revenge in nineteenth-century New Zealand / David Hastings.
“‘Shocking outrage’, the Evening Post in Wellington when they learned in November 1880 that a young woman called Mary Dobie had been found lying under a flax bush near Ōpunake on the Taranaki coast with her throat cut so deep her head was almost severed. In the midst of tensions between Māori and Pākehā, the murder ignited questions: Pākehā feared it was an act of political terrorism in response to the state’s determination to take the land of the tribes in the region. Māori thought it would be the cue for the state to use force against them, especially the pacifist settlement at Parihaka. Was it rape or robbery, was the killer Māori or Pākehā? In this book, David Hastings takes us back to that lonely road on the Taranaki coast in nineteenth-century New Zealand.” (Adapted from Publisher information)

Syndetics book coverMessage to my girl : a dying father’s powerful legacy of hope / Dr Jared Noel with David W. Williams.
“Doctor Jared Noel knew he was dying for almost six years, from the age of 25. But when it looked as though he would not live to see the birth of his child, he began a Givealittle crowd-funding campaign to raise money for a course of chemo treatment that would keep him alive long enough to meet his unborn child. This remarkable campaign, covered by nationwide media, raised an incredible $170,000 in two days. Jared not only lived to see Elise born but also enjoyed her first nine months. Jared’s blog, initially written to alleviate boredom during rounds of chemotherapy, attracted hundreds of thousands of readers. This is Jared’s story, but it is also a profound meditation on life and death, and everything in between.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLegends in black : New Zealand rugby greats on why we win / Tom Johnson with Andy Martin, Geoff Watson and Margot Butcher.
“In the world of rugby, the All Blacks have an unsurpassed legacy of success. We are the best of the best. Legends in Black comprises frank, no-holds-barred interviews with New Zealand rugby greats, each sharing their thoughts on every aspect of what it means to be an All Black: first selection, the haka, international and provincial rugby, professionalism, team culture, camaraderie, technical advances, coaching and leadership. A one-of-a-kind account of New Zealand rugby, Legends in Black draws on unprecedented access to some of the biggest names in the game – revealing the secrets to why we win.” (Abridged Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBlack obsession : the All Blacks’ quest for World Cup success / Gregor Paul.
“This thought-provoking book is a search for answers to the vexing phenomenon of why the world’s undisputed greatest rugby team can’t win the World Cup. It is an in-depth investigation that explores how societal change, combined with the arrival of professionalism, has impacted on the ability of the All Blacks to perform on the biggest stage. The end result is a compelling and authoritative read that gives the most detailed and comprehensive answer to a question everyone has asked but no one has ever satisfactorily answered.” (Abridged Syndetics summary)