Māori Boy: a conversation with Witi Ihimaera

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Last week, I had the great pleasure of attending an author talk with Witi Ihimaera about his latest book, Māori Boy, held at National Library. Māori Boy: a memoir of childhood is a recollection of the author’s early life growing up near Gisborne in the 1940s and 1950s. As a life-long fan of Ihimaera’s writing, I was really excited and interested to hear him speak about his experiences of writing the book and about some of the events and relationships in his childhood which inspired it. The event was incredibly well attended, creating a need for extra seats as well as more speakers; testifying to the popularity of this iconic New Zealand writer. The audience were also treated to a brief teaser video of Lee Tamahori’s upcoming film The Patriarch, which is based on Ihimaera’s well-loved novel Bulibasha. I was also lucky enough to get my shiny new copy of the book signed!

We have plenty of copies available here at the library:

Syndetics book coverMāori boy : a memoir of childhood / Witi Ihimaera.
Maori Boy: A Memoir of Childhood is the first volume of Witi Ihimaera’s enthralling memoir, packed with stories from the formative years of the bestselling author of Whale Rider and Pounamu, Pounamu. He tells of his early life in rural and small town New Zealand, of family secrets, of facing anguish and challenges, and of laughter and love.” (from randomhouse)

ComicFest Profile: Greg Broadmore 101

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Greg Broadmore will take part in a panel talk with fellow Weta Workshop artist, Paul Tobin on Saturday the 2nd of May, between 12 and 1pm at the Central library. Images from their brilliant film and comic works as well as items from the Weta Cave will be on display. It’s going to be a lot of fun and before the afternoon in question, here’s a quick profile accompanied by pictures from this multi-talented artists imagined worlds.

Best known in comic circles for his work on the thoroughly imagined and awesomely funny, Dr Grordbort series, Greg Broadmore has also worked as a children’s illustrator, as designer of public art works such as the Tripod sculpture in Courtney Place, but also as concept designer and sculpture on films such as King Kong, The Adventures of Tintin and District 9.

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Concept painiting from District 9 of the Exo suit. Greg Broadmore 2008

His Dr Grordbort comic series is a wonderfully exaggerated comic parody of ancient and violent colonial attitudes personified in the faux-British form and murderous swagger of one Lord Cockswain.

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Page from ‘Triumph : unnecessarily violent tales of science adventure for the simple and unfortunate.’

The steam-punk  influenced Science Fiction comicsDoctor Grordbort’s contrapulatronic dingus directory,’ Victory: Scientific adventure violence for young men and literate women and Triumph: Unnecessarily violent tales of scientific adventure’ for the simple and unfortunate,’ form the backbone of the Doctor Grordbort comic legend and narrative but this has now extended into intricate ray-gun and weapon replicas, and subsequently into an international touring show that swung through blustery ole Wellington in early 2013!

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Doctor Grordbort’s exceptional exhibition

Whilst we wait for the further lusty adventures of Dr Grordbort, Greg continues to work for Weta Workshop on the Dr Grordbort universe in its many guises, along with occasional film work and inspired illustrations!

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Girl and tyrant lizard friend

For more ComicFest information and an events timetable go here to our events calender or Facebook page, and check out the display items from Weta Cave on Central’s 1st floor from the 17th of April.

As the fearless Lord Cockswain would say, and quite about another issue all together, probably alien related – but let’s be clear, ah – definitely comic inspired…  “Quit Lolly-Gagging, man, off you go!”

From our librarians: NZ Book Month picks

Earlier this month, we asked our colleagues what their favourite New Zealand book was – here are the results:

Syndetics book coverDreamhunter / Elizabeth Knox.Dreamhunter
“I think I would have to say it’s Elizabeth Knox’s Dreamhunter, I read it when I was 17 and still remember parts of it vividly, and keep wanting to read it again!” (Ottilie)

Syndetics book coverReach / Hugh Brown.
“It is such a wonderful story about growing up in NZ” (Dani)

Syndetics book coverPotiki / Patricia Grace.
“For me, it would probably have to be Potiki by Patricia Grace. It opened a window into a different world for me, one I have been learning about ever since. It is beautifully written and I’ve reread it 4 times, which is very unusual for me!” (Pippa)

Syndetics book coverThe kindness of strangers : (kitchen memoirs) / Shonagh Koea ; with illustrations by Peter Wells.
“I’ve read embarrassingly little New Zealand literature but my favourite so far would be In the Kindness of Strangers: Kitchen Memoirs by Shonagh Koea.” (Beth)

Syndetics book coverWork in progress / by Paul Thomas.
“I really like Paul Thomas’ “Work in Progress”. Its an old one though. What I like about it is the way he writes about day to day things with wit and humour and ravishing honesty.” (Kim)

Syndetics book coverDear sweet Harry / Lynn Jenner.
“Fantastically diverse collection of poetry from a super-naturally talented writer.” (Monty)

Syndetics book coverIt’s love, isn’t it? : the love poems / Alistair Te Ariki Campbell and Meg Campbell ; with an introduction by Joy MacKenzie.
“Poetic tit for tat as Alistair and Meg, often on opposing pages, write poetry on the same events in their life but from, of course, differing and often completely opposite points of view. Affirming and heartbreaking.” (Monty)

Syndetics book coverMr. Allbones’ ferrets : an historical pastoral satirical scientifical romance, with mustelids / Fiona Farrell.
”Currently mine is Mr Allbone’s Ferrets by Fiona Farrell. Wonderfully written, quirky and fun.” (Sara)

Syndetics book coverSoundtrack : 118 great New Zealand albums / Grant Smithies.
“Why? Because the author’s choice of records highlights the eclectic range of music that NZ is famous for……and because he writes about each album in an engaging and highly entertaining style.” (John)

Syndetics book coverFaces in the water
“I think Faces in the Water by Janet Frame needs to be on the list if it’s not already!” (Emily)

Syndetics book coverMemé : the three worlds of an Italian-Chinese New Zealander / Memé Churton.
“A NZ book that I enjoyed reading and was really touched by its narrative is the biography titled, ‘Memé: the three worlds of an Italian-Chinese New Zealander’ by Memé Churton.  Memé married a New Zealander after the 2nd WW and ended up settling in Auckland in the 1950’s. Her life story is set against a dramatic backdrop of history and was shaped by her dynamic personality and the lives of the people who crossed her path. The story has impressed me as I can so very much relate to Memé’s insights into the European lifestyle and family upbringing, and , I can also share her thoughts related to the culture shock that she experienced, when she first arrived in New Zealand. I would recommend this biography to those who love history, politics and intercultural relations.” (Celia)

Syndetics book coverThe Halfmen of O / Maurice Gee.
“I really like the Halfmen Of O series by Maurice Gee. I remember listening to them on the radio when my children were small and they were just great stories.” (Sylvia) (Raewyn & Tamadea’s picks too)

Syndetics book coverThe scarecrow / by Ronald Hugh Morrieson.
“My pick for fiction would have to be “The Scarecrow” by Ronald Hugh Morieson. It’s a savagely comic look at murder, sex, adolescence and family in a small New Zealand town during the Depression. Unlike a lot of New Zealand literature, it’s not dour or po-faced. The characters are brilliantly written, despite some of them being quite grotesque. It is also has probably the best opening line of any NZ novel: “The same week our fowls were stolen, Daphne Moran had her throat cut. ” It really sets up the wonderful mixture of murder and the mundane that run through the entire novel.” (Nicola)

The Godwits Fly by Robin Hyde
“A wonderful work of New Zealand literature which evocates a vivid image of early 20th Century Wellington with all its sights, smells and characters.” (Gabor)

Daylight / Elizabeth Knox.
“Randomly, probably something by Elizabeth Knox, probably Daylight (everyone else would say The Vintner’s Luck maybe – I even prefered The Angel’s Cut to TVL).” (Bridget)

Sons for the return home / by Albert Wendt.
“My new favourite is already a classic – Sons for the Return Home, by Albert Wendt, which despite having two degrees in English I read for the first time only this year.  I like it for its vivid and bittersweet romance (I’m a sucker) and also the specificity of the largely Wellington / Victoria University setting. Although named locations are kept to a minimum in keeping with the book’s light touch, it’s easy to follow the characters as they move from Rankine Brown quad to the Mount Street Ceremony, drive out to Newtown and catch the cable car to Upland Road – the very same streets we tread!

Unlike Australia and Canada, New Zealand as a post-colonial country doesn’t have much city-specific literature, but Sons for the Return Home does something to address that. It never makes the city ‘home’, however, and a large part of the story is addressing the issue of where, with whom, immigrant communities and the Pasifica protagonist can be at home. I loved it. ” (Frith)

Six little New Zealanders / by Esther Glen ; illustrated by Els Noordhof.
“If I’m allowed to mention two – I also recommend the mostly-forgotten Black Boots and Button-hooks series and Six Little New Zealanders – childrens’ books written in the first half of the 20th Century and set in pioneer and colonial times. Black Boots and Buttonhooks is much like a New Zealand version of Little House on the prairie – based on the real childhood of the authors mother in the un-colonised King Country. It’s well worth a read!” (Frith)

Plumb / Maurice Gee.
“Changed my life” (Neil)

Further picks:

Syndetics book coverLonely margins of the sea / Shonagh Koea. (Joy)
Purple heart / by Andrew Fiu. (Magalie)
The foreign woman / Fiona Kidman. (Ada)
No left turn / Chris Trotter. (Tamadea)
The changeover : a supernatural romance / Margaret Mahy. (Tamadea)

The latest New Zealand Fiction

From Short Stories to Science Fiction and Fantasy, this selection of new fiction show cases the diversification and skill of New Zealand writers.

cover imageGeist / Philippa Ballantine.
“The first in a new series. Between the living and the dead is the Order of the Deacons, protectors of the Empire, guardians against possession, sentinels enlisted to ward off malevolent hauntings by the geists. Sorcha Faris , a powerful member of the Order of the Deacons, is dispatched to an isolated village to aid a Priory plagued by violent Geist activity.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA man melting : short stories / Craig Cliff.
“This collection of stories moves from the serious and realistic to the humorous and outlandish, each story copying an element from the previous piece in a kind of evolutionary chain. “A Man Melting” was awarded the 2011 Commonwealth Writers Prize Best First Book.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTortolona / Thomas W. Devine.
“Seven Caribbean tourists become pawns in the struggle for ideological and political control of Tortolona when a Cuban-trained army officer, Martin Levera, seeks to overthrow the dictatorship of Mathew Duppie. When Levera lead his mutineers aggainst the rest of the Tortolonan Army all their lives are in peril whatever the outcome.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe below country / Nicholas Edlin.
“Mae Glass is the daughter of a once famous American novelist. From New York to Auckland via post-war Korea, her colourful childhood is itself the stuff of stories. More than thirty years later she travels back to booming Seoul, which is preparing to host the Olympic Games. Accompanied by a quirky, dubious team of guides, she tries to uncover the dark secret of her father’s wartime exploits, only to be besieged by all manner of ghost from her past.” – (adapted from Book cover )

Syndetics book coverThe circus of ghosts / Barbara Ewing.
“New York, late 1840s, and in the wild, noisy, brash and beautiful circus of Silas P. Swift a shadowy, mesmeric woman entrances crowds because she can unlock the secrets of troubled minds. Above them all her daughter sweeps and soars: acrobat and tightrope-walker. The mysterious woman can help so many others, but she cannot unlock dark, literally unspeakable, memories of her own. In London memories fester in the mind of an old and venomous duke of the realm. He plots, with an unscrupulous lawyer (and a huge financial reward) against the mother and the daughter: to kill one, and to abduct the other and bring her across the Atlantic to him”. – (adapted from Amazon.co.uk description)

Syndetics book coverThe trouble with fire / Fiona Kidman.
“This collection of short stories range in time from the colonial period to present day New Zealand, all written with subtlety and insight. They explore how we are all touched and sometimes scarred by the flames of emotion.” – (adapted from Book cover)

Syndetics book coverThe conductor / Sarah Quigley.
“In June 1941, Nazi troops march on Leningrad and surround it. Hitler’s plan is to shell, bomb, and starve the city into submission. Most of the cultural elite are evacuated early in the siege, but Dmitri Shostakovich, the most famous composer in Russia, stays on to defend his city, digging ditches and fire-watching. At night he composes a new work. But after Shostakovich and his family are forced to evacuate, only Karl Eliasberg, a shy and difficult man, conductor of the second-rate Radio Orchestra, and an assortment of musicians are left behind in Leningrad to face an unendurable winter and start rehearsing the finished score of Shostakovich’s Leningrad Symphony.” – (adapted from Book cover)

Syndetics book coverScarlet / Leigh Marsden.
“George is captivated by Cass and who could blame her? Cass is beautiful, sexy and outgoing and she and George run riot through the bars and beds of night-time Auckland. But are George and Cass just girls having fun, or is there something more going on? As George sinks deeper into the nightlife her dark past begins to emerge.” – (adapted from Book cover)

Syndetics book coverThe sweet second life of Darrell Kincaid / Catherine Robertson.
“No one knows ‘happy endings’ like romance novelist Darrell Kincaid. In the act of adding the final full stop to her ninth book, Darrell has a revelation: it’s not the ending that really matters but what comes next. Darrell now sees that when her husband Tom died she lost more than the man she loved. She lost her own ‘happy ever after’. Darrell knows she has a choice. She can stay in New Zealand and live a half-life, or she can leave in search of something, perhaps someone else.” – (adapted from Book cover)

Syndetics book coverBy any means / Ben Sanders.
“Friday rush hour, Auckland city. A lone shooter fires across a packed street and kills a man. Detective Sergeant Sean Devereaux is assigned the case. He’s not complaining, his Friday nights are seldom better spent. But the inquiry is not straightforward. Witness accounts are conflicting. The dead man appears to be an unintended victim, with the true target unknown. It’s a homicide that leaves police with no initial suspects and no apparent motive.” – (adapted from Book cover)

A cure for the post Film Festival Blues

The film festival is over but these new additions to the New Zealand collection may help to keep the post film festival blues away. The Film Archive has released the very beautiful, New Zealand film: an illustrated history. Other new additions are The Last Train to Paradise: Journeys from the Golden Age of New Zealand railways and for an interesting browse through Wellington “The Wellington Book” is a book about Wellington captured with illustrations rather than photgraphs.

Syndetics book coverNew Zealand film : an illustrated history / edited by Diane Pivac with Frank Stark and Lawrence McDonald.
“The age of cinema began in Paris in 1895. Within a year New Zealanders saw their first films and in fewer than five they were making their own. New Zealand Film: An Illustrated History is the first book to provide a comprehensive overview of New Zealand film and film making from the very beginning. With contributions from 24 top film writers, historians, household names and industry insiders, this book is an entertaining narrative of more than a century of film making and an essential reference tool for students and film buffs alike.” (Summary adapted from Syndectics)

Syndetics book coverLast train to paradise : journeys from the golden age of New Zealand railways / Graham Hutchins.
“‘Last Train to Paradise’ describes the halcyon days of New Zealand rail, some of which the author was fortunate enough to experience personally. The ‘name’ trains and journeys cover a considerable period of New Zealand’s history, from the late 1800s, through the ‘golden’ era of train travel. The book includes a wide variety of fascinating and unfamiliar photographs, not just of the trains themselves but also of the characters who travelled in them.” (Summary adapted from Syndectics)

Syndetics book coverThe Wellington book / Jess Lunnon … [et al.].
“This book is all about imagination. It captures the Wellington your camera can’t in 120 gloriously illustrated pages. If you would like a visually diverting and mildly educational memento, feast your eyes on this.” (Back Cover)

Syndetics book coverYvonne Rust, QSM : maverick spirit / Theresa Sjoquist.
“Yvonne Rust: Maverick Spirit is the fascinating, richly illustrated biography of Northland’s iconic artist, pioneer potter, and inspired arts educator, Yvonne Rust, QSM. Yvonne grew up during the Depression years as the only white child in Te Hapua, in the Far North. She graduated with a Dip.FA in 1946, and went on to teach art in schools. As a painter and at the forefront of the pottery movement in the 1950s, she worked closely with such luminaries as Barry Brickell, Ted Bracey, Faith McManus, Richard Parker, Sir Jon Trimmer and Michael Trumic. She believed New Zealand had its own spirit and she sought relentlessly to express it.”(Summary adapted from Syndectics)

Syndetics book coverKarori and its people / edited by Judith Burch & Jan Heynes.
“This book traces Karori’s transition from its beginnings as a rural outpost in the 1840’s, through to the thriving community it is today – one of New Zealands largest and most significant suburbs.” (Back Cover)

History is King

Many of the New Zealand collection newest titles this month have a history focus. A collection of writings from one of the most widely read New Zealand historians Michael King heads the list.

Syndetics book coverThe silence beyond / selected writings by Michael King ; with an introduction by Rachael King.
“The Silence Beyond is a wide-ranging and often personal collection of King’s writings – many in print for the first time or no longer available – including essays, talks and eulogies for friends.” –Back cover.

Syndetics book coverWellington’s railways : colonial steam to Matangi / David Parsons.
“An illustrated record of the Wellington railway system. David Parsons documents progress of the greater Wellington railway system and motive power development through to introduction of the new Matangi multiple units. Also covered are associated transport modes including tramways, the cable car, rail ferries and rail air, with a chapter covering rail transport museums situated within the suburban network. This book is profusely illustrated with colour and black-and-white photographs of motive power variants, stations and associated infrastructure”.(Summary from Syndectics)

Syndetics book coverKarori and its people / edited by Judith Burch & Jan Heynes.
This book traces Karori’s transition from its beginings as a rural outpost in the 1840’s, through to the thriving community it is today – one of New Zealands largest and most significant suburbs. (Summary adapted from the back cover)

Syndetics book coverJohn Larkins Cheese Richardson : ‘the gentlest, bravest and most just of men’ / Olive Trotter.
“This biography recalls Richardson’s life of service in mid-nineteenth-century New Zealand. An Englishman born in Bengal, Richardson’s public life began in Dunedin, a small New Zealand town. Of note is his push for equal education for women, and his lengthy report on the rabbit population problem, foreseeing modern invasive species regulations. Illustrated with period photographs. Trotter is a Dunedin-based writer. Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)” (Summary from Syndectics)

Syndetics book coverShaping Godzone : public issues and church voices in New Zealand 1840-2000 / Laurie Guy.
Churches as institutions, and Christians as individuals and groups, have made significant and often contentious contributions to shaping private and public morality and issues of social justice in New Zealand. Laurie Guy provides a lively account of Church and Christian involvement in a selection of these issues. This ground-breaking book highlights the influence of the church in the shaping of ‘Godzone’ – Aotearoa New Zealand. (Summary adapted from Syndectics)

Syndetics book coverNew Zealanders in focus : the documentary photography of Peter James Quinn.
“Peter James Quinn is one of New Zealand’s preeminent social documentary photographers. His images are revealing, offering insights into the nature of society we thought we knew well. His are images of humanity, pride, sadness, unbridled joy all approached with compassion and humour”.(Summary from Syndectics)

All New Zealand Sports & Fitness

For all of you New Zealand manly blokes!

Syndetics book coverHunter / Graeme Marshall.
“Graeme Marshall has always loved to write. This, his tenth book, is devoted to his passion for hunting. He wrote his first magazine article for fledgling Rod and Rifle in 1981 and has contributed to every issue bar one since then. Whilst most of his books have revolved around trout fishing this is his fourth hunting book, including the most recent, Aerial Hunter, The Dick Deaker Story.” (Global Books)

Syndetics book coverSouth Island Trout Fishing Guide / John Kent ; photography by Patti Magnano Madsen.
“John Kent’s South Island Trout Fishing Guide is a comprehensive guide to the South Island’s incomparable trout fishing waters. More than 400 rivers and 150 lakes are described, along with their location, access, fishing season and appropriate techniques and flies. This book will be of special interest to anglers who enjoy the challenge of exploring and fishing new water.” (Global Books)

Syndetics book coverThe New Zealand tramper’s handbook : everything you need to know to stay safe and have fun / Sarah Bennett & Lee Slater.
“New Zealand has some of the most magnificent and accessible wilderness areas on earth, and exploring them on foot is both exhilarating and rewarding. The key to an enjoyable and safe outdoor adventure lies in sound preparation, and THE NEW ZEALAND TRAMPER’S HANDBOOK is an excellent starting point. Aimed at beginner trampers, it gives practical and sensible information on: clothing, footwear and equipment; maps and navigation; weather, river crossings and other challenges; safety and survival skills; camping tips and hut etiquette; the trampers’ pantry – eating well on the track; useful pre-trip checklists.” (Global Books)

Syndetics book coverBlue Water : Stories from a Life Afloat / Lindsay Wright.
“Blue Water is a book for all those who hear the call of the ocean and dream of whenthey can next go down to the sea.” (Book Jacket)

Syndetics book coverHooked on Hunting : Stories from the Bush / Martin Brenstrum.
“Martin Brenstrum has been exploring New Zealand’s backcountry since as far back as he can remember. In HOOKED ON HUNTING he shares a decade and a half of hunting yarns (and a few good fishing yarns along the way), from the days when you could go bush in the morning and be home in the evening with a deer cheque in your pocket and a satisfied, if knackered, grin on your face. Recalling the many friends he hunted with and the often hugely entertaining – at least in the telling – experiences they had in all weathers, in all conditions, but invariably with equal doses of enthusiasm and determination, Brenstrum also shares his keen knowledge of their quarry, the surrounds and the skills needed to be successful in the rough terrain they traversed. Thoroughly engaging reading, this is not a book just for hunters but for anyone who enjoys a good yarn.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFishing New Zealand : Over 1000 Fishing & Diving Spots / [edited by] Mark Draper, Tony and Jenny Enderby.
Book includes
– North Cape to Stewart Island boat fishing & diving spots
– shore fishing & fresh water spots
– marine charts & topographic maps
– GPS marks, target species, best conditions & expert tips.

Syndetics book coverThe New Zealand Pig Hunter’s Handbook : and Resource Guide / Paul Askin.
“At last a book that covers all aspects of pig hunting in New Zealand, practical information based on experience, written by a skilled and knowledgeable hunter. It covers everything an aspiring hunter needs to know and a lot of information an experienced hunter can learn from.” (Global Books)

Syndetics book coverFly Fishing in New Zealand Lakes / John Kent & David Hallett.
“New Zealand has a worldwide reputation as a fly fisher’s paradise. Renowned author and trout-fishing specialist John Kent has selected 20 of the very best lakes, covering both the North and South islands, and presents here, complete with stunning photography by David Hallett, a complete guide to New Zealand’s premier fly fishing spots.” (Global Books)

Syndetics book coverSoft Plastic Bait Fishing in New Zealand / John Eichelsheim.
“Fishing with soft plastics has continued to grow in New Zealand. The baits continue to catch more fish. John Eichelsheim has returned to the file to update and revise the text with new develolpments in the soft bait revolution. John is perfectly placed as a freelance writer for a number of fishing and boating magazines – and a keen fisherman – to be able to access key information related to soft baits.” (Global Books)

Sports and Politics mixing it up

In Rugby World Cup year the New Zealand collection picks take you from grassroots rugby sidelines to World Cup fever and then mixes in a little politics in an edited collection of essays that re-evaluate the legacy of former Prime Minister William Ferguson Massey.

Syndetics book coverFor the love of the game : grassroots rugby in heartland New Zealand / Gregor Paul, text & Gregory Crow, photographs. “For the Love of the Game is a celebration of New Zealand grassroots rugby and the people who make it happen. In words and stunning photographs, it tells the story of a great love affair that is pursued in every corner of New Zealand.” (Summary adapted from Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverHow to watch the Rugby World Cup 2011 / Spiro Zavos. “Since the Rugby World Cup tournament began in 1987, its powerful players, speed-charged runs, soaring kicks, brutal scrums and controversial refereeing decisions have gripped billions of people around the world. In 2011, the tournament returns to its birthplace, New Zealand, where teams from 20 qualifying nations will battle to win rugby’s most coveted prize. For players and coaches, this is the ultimate test. Will Robbie Deans bring the Wallabies to glory? Can Graham Henry’s All Blacks break their 20-year jinx?” (Summary adapted from Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverA great New Zealand prime minister? : reappraising William Ferguson Massey / edited by James Watson and Lachy Paterson.
“‘Massey’s Cossacks’ — citizens called in to help break the 1913 General Strike — have long been cited as just one of the sins of William Ferguson Massey. One of New Zealand’s longest-serving Prime Ministers, his political legacy has not always been treated kindly. However, recent work by historians suggests that a reappraisal of Bill Massey — which this book provides — is overdue. It is clear, a century later, that Massey was Prime Minister at a particularly turbulent time in its history.” (Summary adapted from publisher’s information)

New Zealand picks for April

New Zealand material added to our collection this month includes, “In search of ancient New Zealand” where geology meets detective work. Plus, David Cohen researches the lives of those who lived in children homes in his new book “Little criminals: the story of a New Zealand boy’s home”, and Ian Dougherty introduces us to a New Zealand folk hero in “Arawata Bill”. In “Only the Houses Remain” Simon Boyce looks into the history and development of New Zealand State Housing. Have a browse!

Syndetics book coverIn search of ancient New Zealand / Hamish Campbell & Gerard Hutching. In this wonderful book palaeontologist Hamish Campbell and natural history writer Gerard Hutching present an exciting new account of New Zealand’s evolution aimed at the general reader. For the first time the story of the 8th continent – Zealandia – is revealed. From 3-billion-year-old grains of sand found in present-day rocks, through the momentous breakaway from Gondwanaland to the drowning and uplift of New Zealand giving rise to today’s landscapes, this new book traces our absorbing geological story. The book is brilliantly illustrated. Photographs of fossils, rocks and the current landscape are linked to outstanding state-of-the-art digital imagery from the files of the New Zealand Institute for Geological and Nuclear Sciences. (Library Catalogue)

Syndetics book coverLittle criminals : the story of a New Zealand boy’s home / David Cohen. From the late 1950s to the mid 1980s, when most of them were closed down, the New Zealand government maintained 26 residences for children and teenagers. Some of those children had the bad fortune to come from families with large numbers of children and who couldn’t cope financially. Plucking a child out and putting him in a home to ease the burden was seen as a solution. Other children in came from profoundly dysfunctional backgrounds or were profoundly dysfunctional themselves. Could putting them all together in close quarters, supervised by staff with mostly inadequate training, ever deliver a positive outcome? In this powerfully written book David Cohen, who himself spent time at Epuni Boy’s Home in the 1970s, argues not. He tracks down former residents and staff members, many of whom argue that boys’-home stints led boys to, rather than away from, lives of crime. It also led some into abuse. Evocatively and originally written, Cohen’s research takes him back to the era of moral panic about juvenile delinquency that drove the creation of the homes and traces the sea change in ideas about the care of troubled adolescents, especially Maori, who were hugely over-represented in the muster, that spelled their eventual demise. Totally gripping, it is a unique insider account of a failed experiment. (Library Catalogue)

Syndetics book coverArawata Bill : the story of legendary gold prospector William James O’Leary / Ian Dougherty. Arawata Bill (1865-1947) was a pioneering New Zealand folk hero. He spent decades in the unforgiving mountain country of North-west Otago and South Westland, prospecting for gold and other minerals and making new tracks in unexplored areas. His astonishing feats of endurance and tenacity, coupled with his charming eccentricity, have captured the imagination of generations of New Zealanders, and Denis Glover immortalised him in his famous poem, ‘Arawata Bill’. This new edition of Ian Dougherty’s landmark biography includes information about O’Leary’s life that has only recently come to light. (Library Catalogue)

Only the houses remain : the demise of the state housing scheme in New Zealand / S.A. Boyce.
“The essays in this book examine the State Housing scheme as it was set up in the 1930’s, progressed in the 1940’s, and the policies that dismantled the original scheme in the 1950’s”–Back cover.

Recent New Zealand Fiction

This month’s selection ranges from historical fiction, to science fiction and speculative fiction; from Te Rauparaha to post-apocalyptic futures and strange creatures loose in Miramar.

Syndetics book coverWulf / Hamish Clayton.
Early nineteenth-century New Zealand, the great chief Te Rauparaha has conquered tiny Kapiti Island, from where Ngati Toa launches brutal attacks on its southern enemies. Off the coast of Kapiti, English trader John Stewart seeks to trade with Te Rauparaha, setting off a train of events that changes the course of New Zealand history. Narrated by two English sailors on board Stewart’s ship, these events are eerily resonant of a more distant memory, stretching back into mythology, of the charismatic leader Wulf and an ancient lament. (Book cover)

Syndetics book coverUnnatural selection : a novel / Philip Eastwood.
Loki Blake has never seen the sun, the sky or the stars. No one has. For centuries they’ve been hidden by an oily blanket of cloud the never breaks or disperses. This is the city of Luxor. Long ago when oceans flooded and fossil fuels ran out Luxor rose out of the chaos, becoming the most powerful city in the world, thanks to its industries, fuelled by the fat of animals. As the fumes from burning tallow spread outward, so did Luxor’ s influence. Now Loki’s going to a place beyond the tallow clouds, to a faraway colony of Trasmundo to search for strange and mythical animals, trying to save them from extinction before the clouds of Luxor’s industries spread further. But someone wants Loki to fail and they’re prepared to kill. (Book cover)

Syndetics book coverA foreign country : New Zealand speculative fiction / edited by Anna Caro and Juliet Buchanan.
Strange creatures are loose in Miramar, desperate survivors cling to the remains of a submerged country, humanity’s descendants seek to regain what they’ve lost, and the residents of Gisborne reluctantly serve alien masters. The visions of New Zealand, and beyond, painted in this collection of short stories are both instantly recognisable and nothing like the place we know. (Book cover)

Syndetics book coverFrom under the over coat / Sue Orr.
This collection of vivid, accessible, contemporary stories can be read purely for the immense pleasure they offer. However, the stories can also be read for the way they explore elements from earlier works: from Maori myth and fairy tale to masterpieces by writers such as Katherine Mansfield, James Joyce and Anton Chekov. (Book cover)

Syndetics book coverDolci di love / Sarah-Kate Lynch.
The Tuscan town of Montevedova is famous for its rolling green hills, long lazy lunches and delectable cantucci biscuits. It even has its own patron saint. But Manhattan workaholic Lily Turner is not interested in any of that. She’s only there to find her cheating husband.  What Lily doesn’t know, however, is that beneath the cobbled lanes of this charming hilltop village, an underground network of ancient widows is working tirelessly on finding her a happy ending, whether she wants it or not. (Book cover)

Syndetics book coverFosterling / Emma Neale.
A young man is found unconscious in a remote forest. He is over seven-feet tall, his skin covered in thick hair, which reminds onlookers of an animal’s pelt. When has wakes in a city hospital, he is eerily uncommunicative. Speculation begins. (Book cover)

Syndetics book coverHokitika town / Charlotte Randall.
Hokitika, 1865, at the height of the Gold Rush. In a town with a hundred pubs, young Halfie, aka Harvey, Thumbsucker, Bedwetter, Cocoa and Pipsqueak, gets by as best he can. Most of the time he hangs around the Bathsheba pub, washing dishes, running errands and making the odd coin. When you’re a coin boy you see a lot of life and from low down. But how much do you really understand. What’s going on in young Halfie’s world? (Book cover)

Syndetics book coverBound / Vanda Symon.
A brutal home invasion shocks the nation. A man is murdered, his wife bound, gagged and left to watch. But when Detective Sam Shephard scatches the surface, the victim, a successful business, is not all he seems to be. And when the evidence points to two of Dunedin’s most hated criminals, the case seems cut and dried, until the body count starts to rise. (Book cover)

Being Daisy / Kate Spencer.
Being Daisy is an emotionally charged slice of life for an irrepressible young woman who roller coasters her way through ten years of married life with humour and optimism. Her journey typified that of many 60’s brides who sought more than just a husband as they embarked on married life in the middle of free love and the background drone of The Rolling Stones. (Book cover)

The flax trader : a historical novel / Brad Bradley. A historical novel based on the adventurous life og Jon W. Harris, earliest settler of Poverty Bay.
Going to sea at an early age, he works as a convict overseer in NSW where he encounters the infamous Rev. Samuel Marsden and suffers his first tragedy. Later trading around the coast of New Zealand, he marries high-born Tukura. The clash of Harris’s rationality with religious and superstitious beliefs in Maroi and European society leads to dire consequences, as his world is turned upside down by the deaths and betrayal of the women he loves, and finally the Hauhau and Te Kooti rebellion. (Book cover)