A bouquet of flower books for spring

Whether you are planting a new garden or wanting to arrange flowers you’ve freshly sourced from the markets, these books can provide inspiration for your perfect dining table arrangement or artistic project. You might also like to link up with some of the local flower groups in Wellington: Ikebana Wellington, Miramar Garden Club, Johnsonville Floral Art Club. We also have a great selection of eMagazines, available through the links below.

Flowers for friends / Atkinson-Dunn, Julia
“This is a book about flower arranging from the perspective of a gardener in Christchurch, New Zealand. Harvesting from the garden means short, wonky stems, bruised petals, insects crawling out of blooms and the open invitation to claim a weed or vege as vase fodder. Julia offers a practical guide to picking, conditioning and arranging home-grown treasures, celebrating their quirks and encouraging unexpected combinations. Seasonal chapters profile arrangements she has made, detailing plants in season and inviting readers to explore some quirky and easy-to-do ideas. (Adapted from the Catalogue)

Carole’s flower truck : flowers every day for New Zealand homes / Bowden, Carole
“With over 350 photos, this book is a visual treat. As well as the story of Carole’s Flower Truck, it is an inspirational seasonal guide to enjoying flowers. There are ideas for special occasions, tips and tricks to keep your flowers looking great and step-by-step floral projects. This book is all about buying local and using what’s in season with a seasonal guide from United Flower Growers. And a guide to create ‘park posies’, jam jar posies and hydrangea bouquets, circlets and garlands. ” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

Weaving flowers from New Zealand flax / Brown, Ali
“Weaving Flowers from New Zealand Flax contains detailed instructions for weaving fifteen different flower and foliage designs plus different variations of several of the designs. Many of the flower designs can be woven from a single flax leaf and are very quick to weave once you’ve had a bit of practice. The book also includes examples of floral arrangements for each of the flower designs and various flax foliage ideas for floral arrangements in addition to the woven foliage designs. All the instructions and arrangements in the book are illustrated with large colour photographs.” (Catalogue)

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Real Stories from New Zealand Diplomats

Looking back at diplomatic stories, from diplomats’ personal anecdotes to historical government archives, from Baghdad at the first Gulf War to West Papua, these authors have interesting diplomatic stories and facts uncovered. Read on!

New moons for Sam : becoming Kiwi, life of a New Zealand diplomat / Hamilton, Peter
“In 1961, Leaving from Somerset and growing up in rural New Zealand, Peter Hamilton joined the diplomatic service as this change was getting underway and his four-decade career saw him leading diplomatic and free trade efforts with traditional and new partners at a time of unprecedented international change for his adopted country. This book is a rare insider’s account of how New Zealand conducts its diplomacy, forges alliances and makes the most of its position as a small South Pacific country on a global stage. ” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

See no evil : New Zealand’s betrayal of the people of West Papua / Leadbeater, Maire
“The book begins by relating the little-known history of West Papua, but its focus is on the impact of New Zealand’s foreign policy on the indigenous Melanesian inhabitants. In the 1950s New Zealand supported self-determination for the former Dutch colony, but in 1962 opted to back Indonesia as it took over the territory. Delving deep into historical government archives, this meticulously researched book uncovers the untold story of New Zealand’s unprincipled and often hypocritical diplomacy. ” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

Diplomatic ladies : New Zealand’s unsung envoys / Woods, Joanna
“Diplomatic Ladies tells the story of New Zealand’s diplomatic wives and daughters over a hundred years of diplomacy. Starting with Maud Pember Reeves in 1907 and based on private letters, MFAT archives and personal interviews, it records many unknown episodes in New Zealand’s diplomatic history, including the part played by the spouses in Baghdad during the first Gulf War, and the perils faced by diplomatic wives in Saigon and Tehran. It is a life full of interest and excitement but comes at a price that many modern women are not prepared to pay.” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

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International Repair Day

To celebrate International Repair Day, we’ve picked some books on creative and practical inspirations for mending and do-ups. The below list is full of advice, including a book from the BBC’s popular show The Repair Shop; the Haynes Manuals, an online resource for car and motorcycle repairs; and artistic upholstering to help you do some DIY upcycling. The benefit of repairing goes way beyond saving budget!

eLibrary resource: Haynes Car and Motorcycle Manuals

The Repair Shop : life in the barn : the inside stories from the experts / Dowle, Jayne
“In today’s throwaway culture, there’s a counter movement growing that urges us to “make do and mend”. The Repair Shop has brought this waste-conscious message to an even wider audience, cementing itself as a BBC classic of the likes of Antiques Roadshow. This book concentrates on the show’s much-loved experts, including woodworker and furniture restorer Will Kirk, clockmaker and mechanical wizard Steve Fletcher, silversmith Brenton West, saddler/leatherworker Suzie Fletcher and more. (Adapted from the Catalogue)

Mazda 6 automotive repair manual / Killingsworth, Jeff
“Save big with a Haynes manual and you can do it yourself from simple maintenance to basic repairs. Haynes writes every book based on a complete teardown of the vehicle. We learn the best ways to do a job and that makes it quicker, easier and cheaper for you. Our books have clear instructions and hundreds of photographs that show each step. You will find routine maintenance, tune-up procedures, engine repair, cooling and heating, air conditioning, fuel and exhaust, emissions control, ignition, brakes, suspension and more.”(Adapted from the Catalogue)

Style, stitch, staple : basic upholstering skills to tackle any project / Stanton, Hannah
Style, Stitch, Staple combines straightforward upholstery techniques with advice on choosing and styling fabrics to make the even the most dilapidated furniture into gorgeous, updated pieces. Packed full of fabric advice, yardage charts, upholstery tutorials, and case studies that feature salvaged and inexpensive furniture, this book is the perfect go-to-guide for the many sewers, designers, and artists who want to learn to rescue and revive furniture with a unique, personalized, and stylish look.” (Adapted from Amazon.com)

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Aviation and boat disasters

This blog collects stories of aviation, boat and railway disasters and tragedies that have happened in the New Zealand and Australian history, some of which caused huge political turmoil, as well as environmental catastrophes. Through talking with captains, families and people involved, these authors seek the truth behind what happened to cause these disasters.

  • Towards the mountain : a story of grief and hope forty years on from Erebus / Myles, Sarah
    “On 28 November 1979 an Air New Zealand plane, crashed into the lower slopes of Mount Erebus while on a sight-seeing trip to Antarctica, killing all 257 souls on board. This was New Zealand’s greatest and shocking peacetime tragedy. The Royal Commission of Inquiry found the airline was at fault rather than the pilots. Author Sarah Myles has researched extensively into the recovery and identification process that brought her grandfather and so many others home.” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

Weeping waters : when train meets volcano : the truth about New Zealand’s Tangiwai disaster at last / Le Vay, Benedict
“Weeping Waters: When train meets volcano is a meticulously researched and almost forensic reconstruction of one of the 20th century’s worst rail disasters – largely forgotten outside New Zealand – that comes up with a compelling new theory as to why the 151 people on that train died. Bringing the people and railways of 60 years ago back to life, the author works towards the nail-biting crescendo of the Tangiwai disaster.” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

Black tide : the story behind the Rena disaster / Julian, John
“The Rena, a 236-metre-long container ship, carrying 1368 containers along with 1700 tonnes of heavy fuel oil and 200 tonnes of marine diesel headed from Napier towards Tauranga. On 5 October 2011 It impaled on a pinnacle of rock at Astrolabe Reef. And by 9 October, fluids and lubricants seeping from her ruptured hull had formed a 5 km slick, making a major economic and environmental catastrophe.  BLACK TIDE looks at the ship and her crew and tells what was happening on the bridge that night; Maritime New Zealand’s version of events, and salvors and the people of the Bay of Plenty. ” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

QF32 / De Crespigny, Richard
“On 4 November 2010, a flight from Singapore to Sydney came within a knife edge of being one of the world’s worst air disasters. Shortly after leaving Changi Airport, an explosion shattered Engine 2 of Qantas flight QF32 – an Airbus A380. Hundreds of pieces of shrapnel ripped through the wing and fuselage, creating chaos as vital flight systems and back-ups were destroyed or degraded. In other hands, a supremely experienced flight crew, led by Captain Richard Champion de Crespigny, managed to land the crippled aircraft and safely disembark the 469 passengers after hours of nerve-racking effort. ” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

Music and the brain

Music is more than just entertainment. These leading brain research authors deep dive into the fascinating connection between music and neurological science. There are also interesting facts behind being tone deaf, ear worms, and other elements relevant to music. Whether you are a fan of music or science, you will find a new interesting book to enjoy!

Musicophilia : tales of music and the brain / Sacks, Oliver W
“Music can move us to the heights or depths of emotion. It can lift us from depression or us dancing to its beat. But the power of music goes much, much further. Indeed, music occupies more areas of our brain than language does. Oliver Sacks’s compassionate, compelling tales of people struggling to adapt to different neurological conditions have fundamentally changed the way we think of our own brains. Here, he examines the powers of music through the individual experiences of patients, musicians, and everyday people. Music is irresistible, haunting, and unforgettable. ” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

The jazz of physics : the secret link between music and the structure of the universe / Alexander, Stephon
“More than fifty years ago, John Coltrane drew the twelve musical notes in a circle and connected them by straight lines, forming a five-pointed star. Inspired by Einstein, Coltrane had put physics and geometry at the core of his music. Following the great minds that first drew the links between music and physics, a list including Pythagoras, Kepler, Newton, Einstein, and Rakim, The Jazz of Physics revisits the ancient realm where music, physics, and the cosmos were one.” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

Bad singer : the surprising science of tone deafness and how we hear music / Falconer, Tim
“In the tradition of Daniel Levitin’s This Is Your Brain on Music and Oliver Sacks’ Musicophilia, Bad Singer follows the delightful journey of Tim Falconer as he tries to overcome tone deafness–and along the way discovers what we’re really hearing when we listen to music. A work of scientific discovery, musicology, and personal odyssey, Bad Singer is a fascinating, insightful, and highly entertaining account from an award-winning journalist and author.” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

Hearing Beethoven : a story of musical loss and discovery / Wallace, Robin
“We’re all familiar with the image of a fierce and scowling Beethoven, struggling doggedly to overcome his rapidly progressing deafness. Beethoven continued to play and compose for more than a decade after he lost his hearing. The author explored through his own experience of deafness, suggested that instead of overcoming deafness, creating music for Beethoven became a visual and physical process, emanating from visual cues and from instruments that moved and vibrated. His deafness may have slowed him down, but it also led to works of unsurpassed profundity.” (Adapted from the Catalogue)


Wellington’s Historic Chinese Community

Chinese Language Week 2023

From vegetable shops to supermarkets, from import merchants to restaurants, and from miners to associations, Wellington’s Chinese history provides a unique perspective of the capital’s past.

Chinese Green Grocers

The Chinese Greengrocery of Wong Gar Sui, 1922. ATL Ref: 1/2-037502-G

The first Chinese arrived in New Zealand during the 1860s to work on the gold fields. From late 1800s these migrants moved to other occupations such as market gardeners, labourers, launderers and shopkeepers.  They became renowned as horticulturists because of their gardening skills which they combined with an expert knowledge of the lunar calendar. The first Chinese market garden was established in 1866 with vegetables being auctioned off to retailers or sold through roadside stalls.

NZ Chinese Growers, 1959.  Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections

By 1940, Chinese growers produced over 70% percent of the country’s commercially grown vegetables and were major suppliers of fresh produce to troops during the Second World War. Ongoing success led to the Dominion Federation of New Zealand Chinese Commercial Growers being established in Wellington in 1941 and soon after Dan Chan established The NZ Chinese Growers journal for the Federation. Originally a hand-calligraphed newsletter, in 1949 he switched to using a fully-fledged hand-set lead type set of over 7500 characters. The now-heritage Chinese typeface collection was later gifted by his family to the Wai-te-ata Press based at Victoria University who also established a Chinese Scholars Studio to house the type and created a residency in his name. 


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