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)

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)

Meet the NZ Post Winners on 28 August at Central Library

Fresh from the awards ceremony the night before, the winning authors from the New Zealand Post Book Awards come together on 28 August at Central Library to discuss NZ-Post-Awardsstheir books, love of writing, new projects, inspirations and challenges and the books currently on their own ‘must-read’ lists at this free event.

Featuring the winners of these awards:

  • 2014 New Zealand Post Book of the Year
  • Fiction
  • Poetry
  • General Non-Fiction
  • Illustrated Non-Fiction
  • People’s Choice

Audience questions will follow, and the winning books will be available for purchase from a Unity Books stand. The authors will be signing copies at the event.

Visit www.nzpostbookawards.co.nz for more information about this event. Full updates on the awards can be found on the New Zealand Post Book Awards’s Facebook page and via @BooksellersNZ on Twitter.

Thursday 28 August
12.15pm – 1.15pm
Wellington Central Library, Ground Floor, 65 Victoria St

 

NZ-Post-Awards

World Day for Audiovisual Heritage: 27 October

Film ReelIt’s World Audiovisual Heritage day today, so we thought we’d spotlight a few pages over on The New Zealand Film Archive‘s website, and on a few other sites that are helping preserve and popularise our own history of the moving image:

  • The First Picture Show: New Zealand Film History Gets Moving

    This is a quick documentary snippet of soldiers departing Wellington for the Boer War in 1900, and these pages are the story of its discovery, identification, and restoration and preservation. You can also watch the film online – there’s a (slightly obscured) link in the right-hand sidebar. Here’s how the Film Archive describe this film:

    The Departure of the Second Contingent for the Boer War is the oldest New Zealand film in the Film Archive’s collection. It depicts a parade of young New Zealand soldiers on the eve of their departure to fight alongside their British countrymen in the South African Boer War. The fact that such an event was recorded at the time is remarkable enough, but the story of how the fragile footage survived, was identified and lovingly restored by the Film Archive’s team of conservators and historians is testament to the important role that film plays in defining our culture and heritage.

  • New Zealand’s Missing Film History

    This page on the Film Archive website describes some (known) missing titles and what they were about – e.g. Hinemoa from 1914 was “The first big dramatic work filmed and acted in the land of the Moa”! (The page also has contact details if you know anything about what happened to the reels of these films after they were shown)

  • AV Heritage : Tips for storing your film collection at home

    This page is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: tips for storing your film collection at home. Protip: *always* hang on the original, even if you’ve made a DVD copy for backup.

  • NZ On Screen

    This is a NZ On Air project launched in 2007 which has all kinds of amazing New Zealand film and TV snippets available to view online — it’s really amazing what you can access.

    Look! It’s Kimbra before she was famous on What Now?:

    What Now? - Kimbra excerpt

    Or watch an episode of 1981’s Under the Mountain:

    Under the Mountain - The Alien World Below

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)

NZ music reviews to end NZ Music Month

Sadly, it’s the end of New Zealand Music Month !  We have been collecting up a few reviews from staff – here are some from John, one of our librarians:

ghostplaneGhostplane – Beneath the Sleepy Lagoon: ‘Southern gothic’ was a genre name coined especially to describe the sound of Wellington’s Ghostplane. They only made this album and one EP in their short career but left a highly distinctive memento. A dark, moody ambience, punctuated by searing guitar lines, pervades these lovely textured songs that carry a NZ flavour not often explored. In their own idiosyncratic way, this band rock.

Mestar – Shut the Squizwot Factories Down: In a more just world John White would be ultra famous. His Mestar project carries the original classic Dunedin indie guitar sound into the future. Huge fuzzy guitars under his distinctively twee sweet vocals create songs that represent the pop music of an imagined parallel Earth.

Sola Rosa – Get It Together / Get It Together Remixes: Starting out as a solo laptop artist, Andrew Spraggon has unrelentingly pursued his musical vision to finally emerge at the helm of a large band of fine musicians, and this record represents the pinnacle expression of his vision so far. It is a record that includes a variety of influences – dub, lounge, jazz and soul – and the inclusion of international vocalists such as Bajka and remixers such as DJ Vadim herald a truly international sound.

The Haints of Dean Hall – The Haints of Dean Hall: A record of haunting post modern lullabies and possibly one of the gentlest records I have ever heard. This trans-Tasman duo create an ambience with electric guitar and vocals so sweet and gentle that it is hardly there at all, yet listen carefully and these are lovingly crafted songs about love, sorrow and experience. “They are trying to recall something but it is like passing shadowy figures in a hallway”.

The Bats – The Guilty Office: When a band can release an album 20 years into their career that matches or even tops anything else in their back catalogue then you know there is something very special going on. In 2008, The Bats very quietly released this record that was like a reminder to indie kids the world over just what ‘indie’ truly means. Great songs, slacker grooves, elegant understated guitar and laconic yet heartfelt vocals – The Bats – a national treasure!

NZ Music Month – young artists play free gigs this week in our libraries

As previously mentioned, up-and-coming young artists are performing free afternoon gigs at Wellington Central Library and at the Ruth Gotlieb (Kilbirnie), Newtown, Johnsonville and Karori branch libraries this week, from 4PM to 5PM.

Here’s the roster of performers for each event:

Ruth Gotlieb (Kilbirnie) : Monday 16 May 2011
Te Aihe Butler, Harriet Emily Hill, Lukas Jury

Newtown, Tuesday 17 May:
Alexi Cartwright, Lukas Jury & Harriet Emily Hill

Johnsonville: Wednesday 18 May:
Alexi Cartwright, Max Apse, Harriet Emily Hill

Karori: Thursday 19 May (4-5pm):
Ash Graham, Te Aihe Butler, Roman Birch

Central Library: Friday 20 May:
Ash Graham, Alexi Cartwright, Max Apse

Find out more about the performers on Toi Poneke’s Facebook pages:

Alexi Cartwright, Max Apse, Harriet Emily Hill, Lukas Jury, Te Aihe Butler, Roman Birch, Ash Graham

Hope to see you there!

nzmmslider

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)

Like to read about things that drink petrol and live in the garage?

Or about things that go really fast? How about engineering ingenuity in New Zealand? Here are a few titles for you:

Syndetics book coverKim : the Kiwi on the konig / by Tim Hanna.
This recommendation came from my father, who is always taking bits of car apart or putting them back together again, and who definitely considers cars and motorbikes to be mechanical members of the family. He reviewed this book very enthusiastically, and although it does have a very sad ending (see here for more information about Kim Newcombe), he very much enjoyed it and I think also enjoyed discovering an aspect of Kiwi motoring history he’d previously been unaware of. Some backstory (as understood by me, the non-mechanical family member): Kim Newcombe developed a 500cc motorbike called the Konig using a two-stroke outboard motor – so actually a boat engine. This was during the 60’s when hydroplane (a type of very fast motorboat) racing was very big. There’s a lot more to the story – and from all accounts it’s an amazing story – but I’ll let you read the book and enjoy discovering it for yourself.

Syndetics book coverJohn Britten / Tim Hanna.
A biography of John Britten, a Motorcyclist of the Millennium (he placed fourth equal with the founders of Harley Davidson in a popular motorcylcing magazine poll). Here was another New Zealand innovator who took the world by storm and a dyslexic whose genius for design and mechanical engineering won him a place on The New Zealand Edge’s list of design heroes, as a “Maverick Genius of Motorcycle Design”. Incredibly, he designed and built the V1000 bike in his spare time. Another story with a very premature ending, but a lot of inspirational content.

Syndetics book coverOne good run : the legend of Burt Munro / Tim Hanna.
Seen the movie? Follow it up with this biography of Burt Munro by Tim Hanna. Amazon has this to say of this title:
“Here is the amazing story of Kiwi motorcycling legend, backyard engineering genius, and land speed record holder Burt Munro. Munro was the archetypal eccentric inventor. He took an original Indian motorbike and modified it in his shed so it became capable of extreme speeds. From small town New Zealand in the 1920s to heroic accomplishments in the USA, Munro was still inventing up until his death in 1978. This is very much a “little guy beats the odds” story-Munro still holds several records in the US-as a mark of respect, the category he raced in was “frozen” for all time.” (The release of this biography was originally timed to coincide with the movie release.)

I like the phrase ‘backyard engineering genius’ – it sums up all three of these titles nicely! Enjoy.