The relationship between a city and its motorways can be a complex one — and Wellington is no exception!
The same was true in 1965, when the imminent construction of the Wellington Urban Motorway was the defining issue of the local election. And for good reason: the motorway was — and still is — one of the largest and most complex works of infrastructure development in Wellington’s history, with hundreds of houses demolished and over 3600 graves disinterred from the Bolton Street Cemetery to make way for it.
Decades later, transport through Wellington is still a vitally important issue. But what can be learnt from this earlier attempt to ease congestion?
Join Wellington City Libraries’ Local and New Zealand History Specialist Gábor Tóth at 12pm on Thursday 29 October at Te Awe Library for a special talk on the history of the Wellington Urban Motorway project — including a powerful set of images taken at the time.
I was staring out a window
I was standing by the sea
Standing by the sea.
We are totally stoked to announce an exclusive interview with Dance Prone and Invisible mile author David Coventry, in conversation with his friend and fellow New Zealand musician Greg Cairns.
David had a rich and fascinating career in the New Zealand music industry before taking a right-turn and becoming an award-winning author. His first book, The Invisible Mile, is about the rigours of cycling in the Tour de France, and his second novel is about the hard core punk scene in America (you’ll hear more about this in the video). At first glance you might think these themes are poles apart, but — as David discusses — not so far apart as people may think.
In Dance prone David captures lightning in a jar by describing the psychological, physical and visceral experience of playing live in front of an audience — a remarkable feat many authors have tried and with a few notable exceptions have largely failed.
David and Greg in coversation is entertaining, insightful, wide-ranging and free form. It encompasses many topics, including David’s writing process, life on the road, and first hand recollections of legendary New Zealand bands, gigs and musicians, not to mention the genius of Husker Du.
We wish to extend our heartfelt thanks to both David and Greg for such an entertaining, frank, and insightful behind-the-scenes conversation.
Watch the full extended version of their discussion below:
Below are just a few of the Bands and albums mentioned in the David’s interview:
Dance prone / Coventry, David
“During their 1985 tour, two events of hatred and stupidity forever change the lives of a band’s four members. Neues Bauen, a post-hardcore Illinois group homing in on their own small fame, head on with frontman Conrad Wells sexually assaulted and guitarist Tone Seburg wounded by gunshot. The band staggers forth into the American landscape, traversing time and investigating each of their relationships with history, memory, authenticity, violence and revelling in transcendence through the act of art.” (Catalogue)
The invisible mile / Coventry, David
“The 1928 Ravat-Wonder team from New Zealand and Australia were the first English-speaking team to ride the Tour de France. From June through July they faced one of toughest in the race’s history: 5,476 kilometres of unsealed roads on heavy, fixed-wheel bikes. They rode in darkness through mountains with no light and brakes like glass. They weren’t expected to finish, but stadiums filled with Frenchmen eager to call their names. ” (Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.
Doolittle. / Pixies (Musical group)
“After 1988’s brilliant but abrasive Surfer Rosa, the Pixies’ sound couldn’t get much more extreme. Their Elektra debut, Doolittle, reins in the noise in favor of pop songcraft and accessibility. Their most accessible album, Doolittle’s wide-ranging moods and sounds make it one of their most eclectic and ambitious. A fun, freaky alternative to most other late-’80s college rock, it’s easy to see why the album made the Pixies into underground rock stars. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)
Horses. / Smith, Patti
“It isn’t hard to make the case for Patti Smith as a punk rock progenitor based on her debut album, which anticipated the new wave by a year or so: the simple, crudely played rock & roll, featuring Lenny Kaye’s rudimentary guitar work, the anarchic spirit of Smith’s vocals, and the emotional and imaginative nature of her lyrics — all prefigure the coming movement as it evolved on both sides of the Atlantic. Smith is a rock critic’s dream, a poet as steeped in ’60s garage rock as she is in French Symbolism.” (Adapted from Catalogue)
Nau mai, haere mai to ‘He Timotimo’, Wellington City Libraries’ te reo Māori taster sessions!
These are introductory classes for beginners introducing a new topic each week as ‘he timotimo’, (a taster) to get you started learning te reo Māori. The sessions will be fun and you will be supported as you learn the basics with our specially designed programme developed by Neavin Broughton and taught in association with Te Reihine Roberts-Thompson.
These taster sessions are suitable for absolute beginners and we are now taking bookings. Bookings will be essential for each date as numbers are limited. You don’t need to book for all six sessions as each session is a complete class featuring pronunciation skills so you don’t need to worry if you have to miss a week. The more classes you do means you get more chances to practice and a new topic each week keeps it interesting.
The classes are informal and you will not need textbooks or other materials, you might just want to bring a notebook and pen to take some notes.
We recently approached international bestselling author Ben Aaronovitch about the possibility of doing a Q and A, very much expecting a polite ‘no’ in response. So when he kindly agreed, we were thrilled!
Thinking about how best to compile some really good questions for Ben, the answer was obvious: we would ask our library patrons to send in their questions for Ben. The questions we received ranged widely — from enquiries about the Rivers of London series, to examples of how to do research, to experiences writing for Doctor Who.
So, below we now present our interview with Ben Aaronovitch. In our opinion, he was hugely entertaining, insightful and really funny to interview and we thoroughly enjoyed the experience. We wish to extend our most heartfelt thanks to Ben, and of course to our users for supplying the questions. Enjoy!
False value / Aaronovitch, Ben
“Peter Grant is facing fatherhood, and an uncertain future, with equal amounts of panic and enthusiasm. Rather than sit around, he takes a job with émigré Silicon Valley tech genius Terrence Skinner’s brand new London start up – the Serious Cybernetics Company. Drawn into the orbit of Old Street’s famous “silicon roundabout”, Peter must learn how to blend in with people who are both civilians and geekier than he is. Compared to his last job, Peter thinks it should be a doddle. But magic is not finished with Mama Grant’s favourite son.” (Catalogue)
The October man / Aaronovitch, Ben
“If you thought magic was confined to one country-think again. Trier: famous for wine, Romans, and being Germany’s oldest city. When a man is found dead with his body impossibly covered in a fungal rot, the local authorities know they are out of their depth. But fortunately this is Germany, where there are procedures for everything. Enter Tobias Winter, an investigator for the Abteilung KDA, the branch of the German Federal Criminal Police which handles the supernatural.” (Adapted from Catalogue)
Rivers of London  : black mould / Aaronovitch, Ben
“Something dark and slimy is dripping through the walls of suburban London. Not the usual stuff that smells funny and can be hell on the lungs, this mould is possessed by some dark power full of bad intentions. Looks like it’s another case for London’s one and only trainee wizard cop, Police Constable Peter Grant, and his reluctant partner, Sahra Guleed. Black Mould ties directly into the Rivers of London continuity, set between Foxglove Summer and The Hanging Tree.” (Adapted from Catalogue)
Remembrance of the Daleks, Ben Aaronovitch (ebook)
“With unfinished business to attend to, the Seventh Doctor returns to where it all began: Coal Hill School in 1963. Last time he was here, the Doctor left something behind – a powerful Time Lord artefact that could unlock the secrets of time travel. Can the Doctor retrieve it before two rival factions of Daleks track it down? And even if he can, how will the Doctor prevent the whole of London becoming a war zone as the Daleks meet in explosive confrontation?” (Adapted from Overdrive description)
For more information on Ben Aaronovitch’s books visit his website. And again, a big thank you to Ben!
Recently we had to say goodbye to our Classic and Easyfind catalogues after many years of faithful service, and had an upgrade for remaining catalogue. Now that these changes are complete, we thought we’d introduce you properly to our sole remaining catalogue and the new features we gained with the latest update — as well as features that mirror well-loved functionality from our old catalogues.
To do this, we’ve created a Catalogue Quick Guide to get you started (below). It covers search options, how to check your account online, save your borrowing history, limit results by branch location and more.
Have a browse, and if there’s a feature you miss or would like help with, you can get in touch with us below:
Selected from our Rare Book Collection is this beautiful 1503 illustrated edition of Terentius Comico Carmine, a collection of comedies by the Roman playwright Publius Terentius Afer
Publius Terentius Afer (better known simply as ‘Terence’) was born into slavery in North Africa around 185 BC and was sold as a child to a Roman senator who took him back to Italy. His owner educated him and became so impressed with his wit and intelligence that he granted him his freedom. Terence went on to write six plays based on the Greek Attic style of comedy, all of which survive to the present day. After the collapse of the Roman Empire, his plays survived as hand-written manuscripts which were preserved in monasteries for hundreds of years through the Dark Ages and into Medieval period. Following Johannes Gutenberg’s invention of the movable-type printing press in the mid 15th century, Terence’s works were among the first plays to be printed in Europe. This copy was published by Johann Grüninger in Strasbourg at the very start of the 16th Century. Though today part of France, at the time the city was principally German speaking and was the centre of the early European printing industry.
The protestant religious reformer Martin Luther became a great admirer of Terence and frequently mentioned his insights into human nature in his own writing. One famous Terencequote which has inspired many is Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto, or, “I am human, so nothing human is alien to me”. Luther also suggested that his plays could be useful for teaching morals and ethics to youth. What makes this somewhat surprising is that Luther was known for his socially conservative views but Terence’s work is often bawdy with no shortage of risqué content. His work Hecyra (akaThe Mother in Law) of which three pages are shown here, is a good example of this. The play follows a young man who falls in love with a prostitute and includes drunken debauchery, sex, domestic violence, and a farcical case of mistaken identity which wouldn’t be out of place in a Christmas pantomime…. but everything works out happily in the end.
Amusingly, the first two attempted performances of the play during the Classical period both ended somewhat disastrously. The first was in 165 BC whenshortly before it was supposed to begin,a rumor spread that a tightrope-walker and boxers were about to perform and the theatre was suddenly swamped by people expecting to see circus acts. The second in 160 BC was cancelled after the theater was again overrun, this time by drunk gladiator supporters. It was finally performed successfully on its third attempt later the same year. Another curiosity is that it was long thought that a musical phrase which accompanies a single line of the text in Hecyra was the only remaining written description of the entire body of ancient Roman music. However, its authenticity is now disputed and it may have had 10th Century origins.
Terence’s newfound popularity during the Renaissance followed the spread of the reformation to England and his work had a notable influence on Shakespeare nearly a century after the publication of this edition. One intriguing thought is the possibility that another copy of this edition could have ended up in Shakespeare’s own library. This now-500+ year old volume came into our collection after being gifted to the institution shortly after the municipal library was founded in 1893. At some point the volume was rebound in vellum, a hard-wearing cream-colored covering made from calf skin which (unlike leather), does not go through a tanning process but is stretched and dried without significant chemical treatment. With the Central Library currently closed, the book is being carefully stored in a custom-made acid-free enclosure in a temperature and humidity controlled room at the Wellington City Archives.
With the move to Covid-19 Alert Level 1 all Wellington City Libraries branches will resume our programmes and events over the coming weeks. Please check our website for details. We will maintain the additional cleaning currently in place and encourage everyone to continue recording their visits using the QR codes.
“Thank you to everyone for patiently following the sign-in and physical distancing rules under the previous Alert level,” says Laurinda Thomas, Manager Libraries and Community Spaces. “When visiting we encourage you to use the hand sanitiser available and record your visits using the QR code posters so we can all help keep one another safe.”
“Over the coming week our teams will be busy setting up our popular programmes like Storytime and Baby Rock & Rhyme, and events, so visit our website to find out what you’ll be able to enjoy at your local branch and when.”
‘Isn’t life,’ she stammered, ‘isn’t life–‘ But what life was she couldn’t explain. No matter. He quite understood.
‘Isn’t it, darling?’ said Laurie.
During lockdown, award-winning Wellington based author, graphic novelist and cartoonist Sarah Laing reacted to the situation with creativity — starting her own autobiographical COVID-19 diary. Fans of her work will instantly recognize the unique visual descriptions of her experience of self-isolation — the work is profound, domestic, honest and funny all at the same time and was updated daily. Done in Sarah’s own unique and wonderful style you can see all the instalments of her COVID-19 diary by visiting her forthcoming exhibition (opening Monday 7 September) or by visiting her website.
A big thank you to Sarah for letting us re-post her work!
Mansfield and me : a graphic memoir / Laing, Sarah
“Katherine Mansfield is a literary giant in New Zealand–but she had to leave the country to become one. Mansfield hung out with the modernists, lost her brother in World War I and spent her last days in a Fontainebleu commune with Olgivanna, Frank Lloyd Wright’s future wife. She was as famous for her letters and diaries as for her short stories. Sarah Laing wanted to be a real writer, too. A writer as famous as Katherine Mansfield, but not as tortured. Mansfield and Me charts her journey towards publication and parenthood against Mansfield’s dramatic story, it examines how our lives connect to those of our personal heroes.” (Catalogue)
Let me be frank : comics 2010-2019 / Laing, Sarah
“Let Me Be Frank brings Sarah Laing’s popular autobiographical comic series together for the first time. Sarah Laing began blogging her comics in 2009 as a way to shed light on her fiction writing and to record life before it evaporated. The comics soon had a large audience, eager for the next installment about Sarah’s parenting fails and successes, writing, her obsession with Katherine Mansfield, her family’s history, pet mice, sex, clothes and more.” (Catalogue)
The fall of light : a novel / Laing, Sarah
“An excitingly contemporary and innovative blend of a beautifully written novel with pictures by a critically acclaimed author. Rudy is a successful architect, but life is not as happy as it should be. His work leaves him artistically frustrated, his wife and two young daughters have moved out of the house he designed for them, and his pushy young associate is vying for design supremacy. When a Vespa accident puts him into hospital and forces him to recuperate at home, he looks in danger of losing everything, but it is then that his repressed artistic yearnings start to make their presence felt.” (Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.
Dead people’s music : a novel / Laing, Sarah
“Classical is karaoke – just playing covers of dead people’s music – or so Wellingtonian Rebecca concluded at her London conservatorium. She’s sabotaged her scholarship there, but wants to keep playing the cello, like her grandmother, Klara. Now unmoored from her classical training, she’s in New York City, where Klara grew up. As Rebecca investigates her Jewish-refugee heritage, she starts to compose her own songs, but has to contend with diabetes and other burning issues- is she with the right man, or should she swap stability for lust? And how much longer can she live with a neurotic, junk-scavenging flatmate, on the verge of murdering another zebra fish?” (Adapted from Catalogue)
How do you tell a ghost story in the age of lockdown?
In a world of pandemics, it can be easy to think that ghost stories aren’t really needed. After all, isn’t reality scary enough? But it’s precisely this fear that ghost stories are designed for: as anthropology professor Tok Thompson explains, “ghost stories deal with a lot of issues — not just whether or not one believes in ghosts, but also questions of the past that haunt us, perhaps past injustices that haven’t been taken care of.”
They’re also remarkably adaptable, making the transition from oral storytelling to novels and periodicals, then to cinema, television and the internet. And in a world where so many people are physically isolated, ghost stories have the benefit of “bringing their listeners closer to each other” — even if it is via Zoom or YouTube.
That brings us to Home with Ghosts! Below you’ll find four fantastic ghost stories from a range of authors — each one designed to scare, disturb, puzzle or haunt. For more, follow Home with Ghosts: Scary Stories Online on Facebook, and stay tuned for the latest installment!
If the beautiful and haunting cover of Blood of the Sun looks familiar, there’s a reason: it’s the third book in the excellent Path of Ra series. Blood of the Sun is due to be released later in 2020, and re-joins Penny and Matiu Yee as they fight to hold back chaos across Auckland’s volcanic skyline. The series has been described as a blend of “near-future noir and horror” and will thrill and scare you in equal measure.
Authors Lee Murray and Dan Rabarts have several other titles available, including Murray’s Taine McKenna Adventures and Rabarts’ Children of Bane series. The pair have also worked together on several excellent anthologies, including At the Edge and Baby Teeth: Bite Sized Tales of Terror.
Hounds of the Underworld (Path of Ra Book One) / Rabarts, Dan
“On the verge of losing her laboratory, Pandora Yee lands her first contract as scientific consult to the police department. And with 17 murder cases on the go, the inspector is happy to leave her to it. Only she’s going to need to get around, and that means her slightly unhinged adopted brother, Matiu, will be doing the driving. But something about the case spooks Matiu…” (Adapted from Catalogue)
It’s been over 10 years since Andi C. Buchanan’s first short story was published in Antipodean SF, and since that time they’ve gone on to produce not only a powerful collection of short fiction (including “Girls Who Do Not Drown”) but also the novella From a Shadow Grave.
From a Shadow Grave begins with the 1931 murder of Phyllis Symons, branching out to describe three alternative scenarios for Phyllis’ life. It’s this emotional and structural bravery that led to Buchanan’s recent success at the Sir Julius Vogel Awards, where they received the award for Best Novella/Novelette!
From a shadow grave / Buchanan, A. C.
“Wellington, 1931. Seventeen-year-old Phyllis Symons’ body is discovered in the Mt Victoria tunnel construction site. Eighty years later, Aroha Brooke is determined to save her life. Urban legend meets urban fantasy in this compelling alternate history by award-winning author Andi C. Buchanan.” (Adapted from Catalogue)
Author and editor Madison Hamill’s debut collection Specimen was launched in March 2020, making it one of the first books to find itself released amid COVID-related lockdown. Despite this setback, Hamill’s work has been consistently popular at Wellington City Libraries–and no wonder: reviews of Specimen have described it as brave, precise and hilarious.
While Specimen is Hamill’s debut collection, her work can also be found at The Pantograph Punch, Scum, The Spinoff and more.
Specimen : personal essays / Hamill, Madison
“A father rollerblading to church in his ministerial robes, a university student in a leotard sprinting through fog, a trespass notice from Pak’nSave, a beautiful unborn goat in a jar … In scenarios ranging from the mundane to the surreal, Madison Hamill looks back at her younger selves with a sharp eye. Was she good or evil? Ignorant or enlightened? What parts of herself did she give up in order to forge ahead in school, church, work, and relationships, with a self that made sense to others?” (Catalogue)
Book: Ghost Bus: Tales from Wellington’s Dark Side
Publisher: Anna Kirtlan
You know that you’re onto something when your work is described as “a creepy love letter to Wellington”, and that’s just how Writers Plot summarised the spooky (and often hilarious) Ghost Bus: Tales from Wellington’s Dark Side. The title short story features not only the recent bus-pocalypse, but also the very real experience of riding on crowded public transport at the end of a long day.
Kirtlan’s previous work has also included Which Way is Starboard Again?, a book about learning to sail and overcoming anxiety and panic attacks in the midst of the South Pacific. Check it out below!