The 80s called and they’ve given their magazine back

Wellington City Magazine on Recollect

Wellington City Libraries is bringing the past back to the future with the popular 1980s Wellington City Magazine now accessible online.

Not only will it showcase the big hair, shoulder pads and jazzercize of the era in the capital, but also the cool cats, clubs and cafes, and feature articles and columns from many still well-known contributors.

Wellington City Magazine on Recollect

Wellington City Magazine offers a fascinating insight into Wellington’s culture in the mid-1980s during a time of considerable societal and economic change, says Wellington City Libraries Local Historian Gabor Toth.

“Its first edition was printed at the very end of Robert Muldoon’s final term as the National Government’s Prime Minister in 1984, and came to an end after 27 issues following the share market crash in 1987.

“Published by Henry Newrick, the magazine had an enormous variety of feature articles and regular columns. Its advertising content reflected a boom in the local economy as financial regulatory controls were dropped, the share market rose to new heights and a new generation of high-earning workers, investors and entrepreneurs opened their wallets. The magazine was also highly innovative in its graphic design, page layout and high-quality photograph reproduction.

“The first five issues were called Wellington Cosmo to reflect the fact that Wellington was seen as being a particularly ‘cosmopolitan’ city, a legal threat to change the title as it violated the international Cosmopolitan Magazine trademark, and a failed appeal and injunction, saw it change its title to Wellington City Magazine.

“The magazine had three editors; Lloyd Jones, John Saker and Malcolm McSporran and attracted many talented writers and journalists who often had significant literary, academic or business backgrounds – including David Burton, Ian Wedde, Simon Morris, Lorraine Mexted, Tony Simpson and Bill Gosden.

“The magazine also took on causes, and was one of the first outlets to raise the profile of the St James Theatre when it was threatened with demolition.”

This was a labour of love for Gabor, hand scanning every page and photoshopping the gutter out of the double page spreads, says Manager of Libraries & Community Spaces, Laurinda Thomas.

“Everyone, young and old, is going to get a kick out of these magazines – it’s like a time machine, and everyone can just go online and get transported there.

“So many of the restaurants, bars, cafes, cinemas, galleries have been replaced with new ones, but some things that haven’t changed are the political, arts and cultural scene – and the Green Parrot!”

Go to wellington.recollect.co.nz and click on the ‘Collections’ button to see all 27 issues, and keep an eye on Wellington City Council and Libraries social media channels for some 1980s nostalgia to coincide with the launch.

NZ author Lee Murray picks up two Bram Stoker Awards®

A huge congratulations to the fabulous Lee Murray for her double win at the recent Bram Stoker Awards®  — the Oscars for dark writing and the world’s premier literary horror awards!

Catalogue link for Black CranesLee won in the category Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection for Grotesque: Monster Stories (link goes to Lee’s website, look for our copy on the catalogue soon); and for Black Cranes: Tales of Unquiet Women (reserve your copy now) in the category of Superior Achievement in an Anthology.

Lee’s works and exploits in speculative fiction in New Zealand are numerous and wide-ranging. She has previously received the Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best Novel (Into the sounds) as well as Best Collected Work as one of three editors on Te Korero Ahi Kā collection, but Murray’s work isn’t just limited to the page. She has also helped establish key writing communities in New Zealand and been involved with events such as GeyserCon. In 2020, she was made an Honorary Literary Fellow in the New Zealand Society of Authors’ annual Waitangi Day Honours. Her other works include the Taine McKenna military thrillers, and supernatural crime-noir series The Path of Ra, co-written with Dan Rabarts, as well as several books for children.

Find out more about Murray’s work on her website:

Visit Lee Murray’s website

Below we’ve included our exclusive video featuring Lee Murray and her The Path of Ra co author Dan Rabarts reading their work in our Home With Ghosts series.

Browse Lee’s work:

Black cranes : Tales of unquiet women.
“Almond-eyed celestial, the filial daughter, the perfect wife. Quiet, submissive, demure. In Black Cranes, Southeast Asian writers of horror both embrace and reject these traditional roles in a unique collection of stories which dissect their experiences of ‘otherness’, be it in the colour of their skin, the angle of their cheekbones, the things they dare to write, or the places they have made for themselves in the world.Black Cranes is a dark and intimate exploration of what it is to be a perpetual outsider.” (Catalogue)


Into the ashes / Murray, Lee
” The nation’s leaders scoff at the danger. That is; until the ground opens and all hell breaks loose. The armed forces are hastily deployed; NZDF Sergeant Taine McKenna and his section tasked with evacuating civilians and tourists from Tongariro National Park. It is too little, too late. With earthquakes coming thick and fast and the mountains spewing rock and ash, McKenna and his men are cut off. Their only hope of rescuing the stranded civilians is to find another route out, but a busload of prison evacuees has other ideas. And, deep beneath the earth’s crust, other forces are stirring, ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Into the sounds / Murray, Lee
“On leave, and out of his head with boredom, NZDF Sergeant Taine McKenna joins biologist Jules Asher on a Conservation Department deer culling expedition to New Zealand’s southernmost national park. Despite covering an area the size of the Serengeti, only eighteen people live in the isolated region, so it’s a surprise when the hunters stumble on the nation’s Tūrehu tribe, becoming some of only a handful to ever encounter the elusive ghost people. Besides, there is something else lurking in the sounds, and it has its own agenda. When the waters clear, will anyone be allowed to leave?​”(Adapted from Catalogue)

Into the mist / Murray, Lee
“When New Zealand Defense Force Sergeant Taine McKenna and his squad are tasked with escorting a bunch of civilian contractors into Te Urewera National Park, it seems a strange job for the army. Taine draws on ancient tribal wisdom as he becomes desperate to bring his charges out alive. Will it be enough to stop the nightmare? And when the mist clears, will anyone be left?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Te korero ahi kā : To speak of the home fires burning
“Here, between the realms of the Sky Father and Earth Mother, hellhounds race, ghosts drift and the taniwha stalks. Home fires drive them back, sparking stories and poems that traverse seconds, eons, and parsecs. Tales of gatekeepers, cloak wearers, and secrets. Of pigs with AK-47s or ruby-hued eyes, of love-struck moa, and unruly reflections. Stark truths and beautiful possibilities. Te Korero Ahi Kā-to speak of the home fires burning-is an anthology of science fiction, fantasy, and horror, showcasing work from award-winning and emerging members of SpecFicNZ (New Zealand authors, poets, artists of speculative fiction. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

At the edge
“Step up, as close as you dare… …to a place at the edge of sanity, where cicadas scritch across balmy summer nights, at the edge of town, where the cellphone coverage is decidedly dodgy, at the edge of space, where a Mimbinus argut bounds among snowy rocks, at the edge of the page, where demon princes prance in the shadows, at the edge of despair, where 10 darushas will get you a vodka lime and a ring side seat, at the edge of the universe, where time stops but space goes on… From the brink of civilisation, the fringe of reason, and the border of reality, come 23 stories infused with the bloody-minded spirit of the Antipodes. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Blood of the sun / Rabarts, Dan
“There’s been a gang massacre on Auckland’s Freyberg Wharf. Body parts everywhere. And with the police’s go-to laboratory out of action, it’s up to scientific consult Pandora (Penny) Yee to sort through the mess. It’s a hellish task, made worse by the earthquake swarms, the insufferable heat, and Cerberus’ infernal barking. And what’s got into her brother Matiu? Does it have something to do with the ship’s consignment? Or is Matiu running with the gangs again? Join Penny and Matiu Yee for the family reunion to end all family reunions, as the struggle between light and dark erupts across Auckland’s volcanic skyline.”–Publisher description.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Teeth of the wolf / Rabarts, Dan
“Scientific consultant Penny Yee has barely drawn breath before Detective Inspector Tanner assigns her another suspicious death, with Matiu tagging along for the ride. That’s fine as long as he stays outside the crime scene tape, but when one of Matiu’s former cronies turns up dead, Penny wonders if her brother might be more than just an innocent bystander. While she’s figuring that out, the entire universe conspires against her, with a cadaver going AWOL, her DNA sequencer spitting the dummy, and the rent due any day.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Hounds of the underworld / Rabarts, Dan
“On the verge of losing her laboratory, her savings, and all respect for herself, Pandora (Penny) Yee lands her first contract as scientific consult to the police department. Only she’s going to need to get around, and that means her slightly unhinged adopted brother, Matiu, will be doing the driving.  Matiu doesn’t like anything about this case, from the voices that screamed at him when he touched that bowl, to the way his hateful imaginary friend Makere has come back to torment him, to the fact that the victim seems to be tied up with a man from Matiu’s past, a man who takes pleasure in watching dogs tear each other to pieces for profit and entertainment.” (Catalogue)

A foreign country : New Zealand speculative fiction
“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. A FOREIGN COUNTRY brings together the work of established authors and fresh voices to showcase the range of stories produced by New Zealand’s growing community of speculative fiction writers.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Regeneration : New Zealand speculative fiction II
“Some things are gone forever; but that is not the end. There are new lives to be lived, new discoveries to be made, changes to be fought for, enjoyed, or feared. Experience worlds where existence continues beyond death and much-wanted babies become something else entirely. Where humanity endures in hostile environments, societies adapt to new challenges and inventions, and strange creatures live secretly among us. Travel from a curiously altered Second World War to other universes at the end of time, taking in diverse visions of New Zealand and worlds beyond along the way. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Speak English clearly and confidently with Clear Pronunciation

Our newest online learning resource, Clear Pronunciation, helps you learn all the 43 sounds of English. Take a look at the sounds by themselves, in words, and in sentences – listen, practise, compare, and improve. Through audio and video clips, activities and assessments, you will listen to English speakers with a variety of accents in everyday situations and conversations.

There are two programmes to choose from, Clear Pronunciation 1, which introduces the 43 sounds, and Clear Pronunciation 2, which teaches you to put these sounds together.

Access Clear Pronunciation wherever and whenever you need it on your desktop or your mobile. To get started, find Clear Pronunciation 1 and 2 on our Languages page. Log in with your library card number and PIN and either create your own Clear Pronunciation account in order to track your progress or simply continue as a guest.

Take a look at the introductory video below. A preview of what is to come! Start learning with Clear Pronunciation to speak clearly with confidence.

New Titles for Job Seekers

Whether seeking a job or a promotion, the world of employment can be intimidating. From how to format résumés to help writing cover letters, our library collection has a number of books and eBooks to make the process a little bit easier. All books listed here are from the last two years to provide the most up to date advice about employment.

While the titles here cover job seeking and wellbeing, we also have many titles which focus on the more nitty gritty side of job hunting. Feel free to get in touch or talk to a librarian at your local branch if you have any questions.

Book CoverWhy losing your job could be the best thing that ever happened to you : five simple steps to thrive after redundancy

“Being made redundant is one of the hardest challenges you will face. But, with the right support and advice, it could be an opportunity. It can be a moment to stop, think and make positive changes. It might even be the best thing that ever happened to you.”

“Eleanor Tweddell works with organisations and individuals going through redundancy. In this comforting and enlightening book, she draws on her experience, as well as conversations with her clients, to show how we can learn to adapt and thrive during one of our most difficult and transformative experiences.” (From catalogue)

Coming back : how to win the job you want when you’ve lost the job you need

Coming Back Book Cover

“Bestselling author and four-time Pulitzer Prize-nominee Fawn Germer offers advice about how to present yourself in the best possible way and make sure you stay relevant and valuable as an employee.” –Newsweek

“Powerful tactics (and some much-needed tough love) calls to action, helping professionals who feel they’re in a stalemate in their careers learn, re-tool, connect, grow, and get ready to work again.” –Forbes

“A street smart, inspiring, practical, and utterly honest book for renewing or resuming your career.” (Extract from catalogue)

#Entry Level Boss book cover#EntryLevelBoss : a 9-step guide for finding a job you like (and actually getting hired to do it)

“Banging your head against the wall with the job search? #ENTRYLEVELBOSS will help you stop freaking out. Miserable in your current role but no idea what to do next? With this book you’ll be able to make a decision, no personality tests required. Convinced that you are the most unhireable person on this planet? That’s statistically improbable – and you’ll be amazed at how employable you’ll be by the time you have finished reading.” (Extract from catalogue)

Long life learning : preparing for jobs that don’t even exist yetLong Life Learning book cover

“Long Life Learning: Preparing for Jobs That Don’t Even Exist Yet offers readers a fascinating glimpse into a near-future where careers last 100 years, and education lasts a lifetime. The book makes the case that learners of the future are going to repeatedly seek out educational opportunities throughout the course of their working lives — which will no longer have a beginning, middle, and end. Long Life Learning focuses on the disruptive and burgeoning innovations that are laying the foundation for a new learning model that includes clear navigation, wraparound and funding supports, targeted education, and clear connections to more transparent hiring processes.” (Extract from catalogue)

Own it. Love it. Make it work. Book coverOwn it, love it, make it work : how to make any job your dream job

“If you experience the ‘Sunday night scaries,’ count down the days to the weekend, or dread the thought of another day at work, maybe you can only see two options to escape your current misery: quit your job or stay and suffer.”

“There is another option.”

“In Own It. Love It. Make It Work, one of America’s top productivity consultants, reveals why you don’t have to rely on your company, nor your boss, for your professional fulfilment. Instead, you can take ownership of your career, your life, and your happiness–right now.” (Extract from catalogue)

Exploring True Crime

Do you love to read true crime? Kath, one of our lovely librarians, has put together this round-up of her true crime picks. Have a read and let us know your favourites in the comments!

It’s no secret that the true crime genre has exploded over the past few years, particularly thanks to a number of podcasts that have not only taken deep dives into significant crime stories, but have even managed to solve a few incredibly intense ones.  Now more than ever, there are many new true crime books to delve into if you’re a fan of the genre.

That said, the genre has been around as long as crime and books have existed, so there are plenty of good books to work your way back through if you’ve caught up with all the recent best sellers.

I’ve selected some that I’ve enjoyed over the years, many of them from my country of origin, Australia.

Murder in Mississippi / Safran, John

This is one of the best true crime books I have ever read.   John Safran, an Australian satirist and documentary maker, played a prank on a white supremacist in Mississippi as part of his TV series John Safran vs God. The footage was canned for legal reasons and he thought that was the last he’d have to do with Richard Barrett.  It came as a shock then to find out a while later that Barrett had been stabbed to death by a black man, one that he owed money to and had allegedly propositioned.  Not content with just researching the story of Barrett’s murder, Safran headed to Mississippi to interview all involved, including the killer… and managed to get himself tangled even further into the story while he was there.  What follows is a riveting exploration into what happened, why it happened and why on earth Safran found himself in the situation he had got into.  An absolute page turner!

A scandal in Bohemia / Haigh, Gideon

In the 1920s Mollie Dean was a young, independent woman, a poet and aspiring novelist who was the lover and muse of acclaimed artist Colin Colahan.  And then one night in 1930 she was brutally murdered by an unknown killer.  When police investigated, they found a tangle of bohemian lifestyles, abusive family and sexual freedom that was to shake Melbourne to the core and inspire music, literature and theatre long into the future.

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil / Berendt, John (Audiobook)

A delicious, steamy melange of high society, rednecks, con artists, voodoo, antiques and a stunning black drag queen who metaphorically slays all in her path.  This New York Times bestseller was made into a film starring John Cusack and the Lady Chablis, the actual drag queen featured in the book.  This book reads like fiction, but it’s all true, and like the aforementioned Safran book, the author John Berendt manages to get himself embroiled in the story.  Another riveting story.

His bloody project : documents relating to the case of Roderick Macrae, a historical thriller / Burnet, Graeme Macrae

His Bloody Project is technically fiction, but it has been created from extensive research into a true crime case and the community around it.  A fantastic historical thriller explores a triple murder in a small Scottish farming community around the time of the highland clearances.  There is no question that 17 year old Roderick Macrae committed these brutal murders, but what led him to do so? What secrets were being kept by the villagers of Culdie?  Graeme Macrae Burnet has used the historical documents of the time to piece together the story and speculate on the reasons behind this dramatic occurrence in a tiny village community.

Tamam Shud : the Somerton man mystery / Greenwood, Kerry

Written by Kerry Greenwood, author of the Phryne Fisher and Corinna Chapman novels, this is the story of the most mysterious unsolved murder in Australian history.  In 1948 a body was found on a beach in Adelaide, and even now, it is not known who he was.  But around him, were so many bizarre details.  A tiny scrap of paper with the words “Tamum Shud” sewn into the lining of his suit.  A code written in a book of Persian poetry… the same book that the piece of paper in his suit had been torn from.  All the labels had been cut from his clothing.  Kerry Greenwood delves into this story to try to solve it after all these years, and leaves us with almost as many questions as we have answers!

The tall man / Hooper, Chloe

Chloe Hooper takes a close look at the case of Cameron Doomadgee, the Palm Island man who was found dead in a watch house cell after swearing at a white police officer, Senior Sergeant Christopher Hurly, and the long and difficult efforts to bring him to trial.  Indigenous deaths in custody have long been a contentious issue in Australia and the Palm Island case was a flashpoint in Indigenous rights.  This would have been a very complex case to research and even more difficult to write as sensitively as Chloe Hooper has. A totally engrossing read that literally made me hold my breath in parts.

In cold blood : a true account of a multiple murder and its consequences / Capote, Truman

Let’s face it, In Cold Blood is the OG of the true crime genre as we know it today.  Truman Capote took crime reporting and turned it into literature.  Investigating the 1959 murder of the Clutter family and the men who carried out that murder, Capote himself got embroiled in the community of Holcomb, Kansas and the lives of the two murderers, Perry Smith and Richard Hickock.  There is an intimacy to the way that Capote writes about those involved in this case that set the tone for crime writing well into the future.  As well as a captivating tale, it’s a fantastic way to look at the way the true crime genre was born.

For more great true crime reads, click here.

The 1951 Waterfront Dispute: 151 days that shook New Zealand

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the longest and one of the most polarising labour disputes in New Zealand’s history. Now digitised on Wellington City Recollect is a selection of what were then illegally printed pamphlets and newsletters from one of the main players in the dispute, the Wellington Waterside Workers’ Union.

An illegal flyer printed to be handed out to the public to explain the position of the Wellington Waterside Workers’ Union. Emergency regulations meant any coverage of their views by news media was banned by the government.

Though it is now passing from living memory, the 1951 Waterfront Dispute remains one of the most contentious industrial conflicts from our past. Lasting 151 days, it was the longest serious industrial action ever taken in New Zealand and involved more people than any other strike in our history with over 22,000 members of the Waterside Workers’ Union and other sympathetic labour groups involved. It was a deeply divisive and polarising event with different sides accusing each other of being ‘communists’ or ‘fascists’ respectively with many of the attacks becoming increasingly personal and vindictive. Even the name and nature of the event was in dispute with the Government, port authorities and shipping companies calling it a ‘strike’ and the waterside workers calling it a ‘lock-out’. This distinction remained a contentious issue among some historians and political scientists for decades after the event.

Continue reading “The 1951 Waterfront Dispute: 151 days that shook New Zealand”

RBdigital and Lynda.com – changes coming soon

This month, change is coming to two of our popular online resources — Lynda.com, and RBdigital.

On 15 February, Lynda.com will be changing to become LinkedIn Learning for Libraries (the next generation of the platform). More about the change from Lynda.com to LinkedIn Learning

On 24 February, our RBdigital magazines will be moving to Overdrive. This change will also massively increase the number of magazines available, from 130-some-odd to several thousand titles.

These are vendor-driven changes, and we’re working with our vendors closely to ensure they happen smoothly for our customers.

We’ll post more about these changes closer to the time and provide all possible support — this is just a quick note to let you know that change is coming, and we’ll keep you posted!

A quick guide to our Catalogue

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:

Email us — enquiries@wcl.govt.nz


PDF version — Catalogue Guide (mobile/desktop)

Mobile devices

If you use our catalogue on your mobile device, things look slightly different again. Here’s a special guide to the mobile version:


PDF version — Catalogue Guide (mobile/desktop)

From the Rare Book Collection : Terentius Comico Carmine

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 Terence quote 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 (aka The 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 when shortly 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.

Home with Ghosts: Scary Stories Online (Part One)

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!


Lee Murray and Dan Rabarts

Book: Blood of the Sun
Publisher: Raw Dog Screaming Press

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)

 


Andi C. Buchanan

Book: From a Shadow Grave
Publisher: Paper Road Press

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)

 


Madison Hamill

Book: Specimen: Personal Essays
Publisher: Victoria University Press

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)


Anna Kirtlan

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!

Which way is starboard again? : overcoming fears & facing challenges sailing the South Pacific / Kirtlan, Anna
“Many New Zealanders sail the South Pacific but not many do it with as little boating experience as uncoordinated, impractical, directionally challenged, desk-bound type Anna Kirtlan. Not only does she have to learn to sail, and navigate, from scratch, she also has to overcome recurrences of the anxiety and panic attacks that plagued her teen and early adult years.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Dining out in Wellington during the era of shrimp cocktails and deep-fried camembert

Today Wellingtonians are spoilt  for choice when it comes to dining out in the city with a huge range of different cuisines to try and restaurants which cover every  budget. But what was the restaurant scene like nearly 40 years ago? This booklet now on Wellington City Recollect gives you some idea as to what going out for dinner in Wellington was like in the early-mid 1980s.

Menu for ‘Camelot’

Called The Menu Guide,  it was published in late 1982 by Henry Newrick and his firm Newrick Associates Ltd. Its cover price of $4.95 was relatively high for the time (approximately $18 in 2020 terms) but the booklet also included a set of discount coupons for diners to use at a selection of restaurants, one of the first times that a hospitality discount coupon scheme had been used in Wellington. A full and complete listing of almost every restaurant operating at the time was included in the introduction but establishments could pay to have a larger advertisement placed in the main body of the booklet in the form of a menu and it is these which offer a fascinating insight into our dining-out past.

Menu for ‘Bacchus’

This was at a time when traditional ‘family’ and ‘fine dining’ establishments started to be joined by new ‘ethnic’ restaurants as Wellingtonians’ culinary tastes expanded. Most of the fine dining restaurants were of course, French, while family restaurants all shared the common dominant theme of steak and chips.

Although the prices listed appear ridiculously low by today’s standards, how do they compare when inflation adjusted? The menu for Camelot, a popular family restaurant in Brandon Street which sported a ‘Ye Olde King Arthur’ theme, indicates that average prices were probably a bit higher than today; their $9.70 T-bone steak served with a mushroom sauce would be hitting $34 in 2020. Meanwhile, Des Britten’s legendary The Coachman offered grilled prawns at the eye-watering equivalent of $63. The Bacchus restaurant seemed to take the approach that if you needed to know their prices, you probably couldn’t afford to eat there (suffice to say that deep pockets were needed).

Though new ethnic cuisine restaurants were starting to appear, choice was still limited. Chinese restaurants serving a ‘Kiwi-fied’ version of Chinese food had been part of the city’s dining scene for generations, but these were now joined by Greek and Indian restaurants reflecting the long-standing presence of these ethnic communities in Wellington. South-east Asian eateries were virtually non-existent (the long-standing Indonesian restaurant Toko Baru being one of the few exceptions), middle-eastern restaurants were yet to be seen and it would be another decade before the doner kebab made its first appearance.

Menu for the ‘Mexican Cantina’

However, one new ethnic restaurant is included which really shook up the local scene; the Mexican Cantina in Edward Street. This gave many Wellingtonians their first taste of guacamole and nachos at a time when it wasn’t yet possible to buy corn chips or taco shells at the supermarket.  The ‘Mex’ took the approach of keeping their prices low, the food simple (though exotic to most taste-buds) and packing customers in. Popular with students, waiting crowds would often be spilling out the door while chugging on their B.Y.O supplies (alcohol licences were difficult and expensive to obtain for most restaurants). With no reservation system in place, groups would have to write their details on a blackboard and wait until their listing got to the top at which point their name would be yelled out over the noise of diners indicating their table was ready.

Possibly influenced by the success of the ‘Mex’, Manuel’s  — which operated out of the Broderick Inn in Johnsonville — also adopted a Mexican theme, but amusingly kept their menu as ‘family’ orientated as possible with not a pinch of cumin, dollop of sour cream or a kidney bean to be seen…

Menu for ‘Manuel’s Family Restaurant’

Music & Film is back in the CBD at our new Te Awe Library!

Exciting news for Film & Music lovers with large sections of the Wellington Central Library Audio Visual collection now available once again at our newest CBD library, Te Awe, on Panama and Brandon streets.

Some of our DVD collection, as well as a very small CD collection, were previously located in the Arapaki Branch on Manners Street following the closure of the Central Library building. We have added lots of core film titles to the DVDs, greatly expanded the CD collection, and brought them all together in a fresh new location, a cosy corner upstairs at the spacious new Te Awe library.

We have also curated a core collection of ‘Essential Listening’ & ‘Essential Viewing’ titles from our large Central AV collection, many of which are unavailable on streaming services in New Zealand. Watch out for our new blue stickers!

 

 

 

 

 

 

All our ‘Essential Viewing’ & Essential Listening’ titles are taken from titles such as 1001 movies you must see before you die, ‘1001 albums you must hear before you die’ & Nick Bollinger’s 100 essential New Zealand albums. They are also tagged on our catalogue. Just type in ‘Essential Film Viewing’, ‘Essential Television Viewing’ & ‘Essential Listening’ as a search and you can check them out from home, your device, or on our online catalogues in the library.

Details on the library’s location and hours are on the Te Awe branch page. See you there!

When ‘Herbert Gardens’ was actually the Herberts’ garden

Many Wellingtonians will be familiar with Herbert Gardens, a striking mid-century modernist apartment building located at 186 The Terrace, next to the top end of Boulcott Street leading to the motorway on-ramp.  It was designed by the architectural firm of Biggs, Power and Clark in the early 1960s and built between 1963 and 1965.

Herbert Gardens (c. 1980), photo by Charles Fearnley

One can only imagine the impact the building had when it opened; at the time of construction the Terrace was still dotted from end to end with wooden colonial villas and only two modern office buildings (Shell House and Massey House) had been completed.   This was also an era when the inner-city population was in rapid decline as people moved out to the suburbs, shops were closed on weekends, ‘six o’clock closing’ was still in force and Wellington’s first and only so-called ‘supermarket’ was little more than a medium-sized grocery store on Willis Street.  With that in mind, the development firm of Winchester Developments Ltd took on a degree of risk in believing that there would be enough people interested in European-style apartment living at a time when inner-city culture and atmosphere was anything but ‘vibrant’. The name the developers decided to give to their venture commemorated the former owners of the large house which once existed on the site and (as the name suggests) their well-known and much-loved garden. 

Bowen Hospital, c. 1970. Photo by Charles Fearnley

Dr William E Herbert was born in central Otago in 1872. He studied at both Otago University and the famous medical school at Edinburgh University before settling in Wellington where he established a small private practice as well as working at Wellington Hospital. After a visit to the United States where he was impressed with what he saw as a much more efficient way of delivering health care, he formed a business partnership with Dr Henry Hardwick-Smith and in 1912 they established what was then Wellington’s first ‘modern’ private hospital in Bowen Street. Though the hospital buildings were demolished in the early 1970s for the construction of the Treasury headquarters, the original name of the institution continues to live on after Bowen Hospital became a charitable trust and relocated to Crofton Downs.  It was during the 1920s that William and his wife Florence moved into the large mansion at 186 The Terrace which had been owned by her parents, her father being the wealthy businessman and hotelier, Hamilton Gilmer. Likely built in the 1880s, it was located at the front of a one-acre section with the back of the land parcel dropping down into a natural valley where the Kumutoto river flowed and which later became known as Herbert Gully.  They set about landscaping and planting the section behind the house and transforming it into what was regarded as one of the finest private gardens in inner-Wellington. The Herberts had long been involved with charity and philanthropic causes, raising large sums of money to build Wellington’s children’s hospital and to purchase some of NZ’s first radiotherapy machines used for treating cancer, so it followed that they would use and showcase their garden for charitable purposes. 

In early 1934, The Social Review reported such an event; a garden party raising funds for Wellington Free Kindergarten.  Highlights included a fashion show featuring new work by the local clothing designer Mary Garden, a performance by a dance group and a display of “relaxation exercises  demonstrated in a reclining position”.  Though her husband died unexpectedly in 1933, ‘Florrie’ Herbert remained living in the house, outliving her husband by almost 30 years until her death in 1961. Soon after the mansion was demolished and planning and construction of the apartment building began.

The northern portal of the Terrace Tunnel under construction, 1975, just a few meters south of where the gardens were once located.

Photos from this period in the late 1960s  show the original gardens still existing and though they were in a state of disrepair, they would have provided a quiet outdoor area for the apartment building’s early residents. However, it was to be a short-lived peace; almost exactly the same time as the building was completed, the final route of the Wellington Urban Motorway was confirmed. Most of what remained of the gardens were compulsorily acquired by the National Roads Board and in the mid 1970s they were dug out to create the section of the motorway which leads to the northern portal of the Terrace Tunnel. However, now clad in regenerating native bush, a small section of the original garden remains for residents of the apartments to enjoy to this day.

Learning English collection comes to Arapaki Manners Library

Two sets of whaite shelves facing each other, displaying books about learning English.

Books for learning English are now available to borrow from our CBD branch, Arapaki on Manners Street. The collection supports the learning needs of people of all ages who are learning to read and write, and people who are learning English as a secondary language. The collection provides materials which can be used in addition to English courses and as an aid to self-study.

The types of books available include: graded readers, dictionaries, grammar and vocabulary courses, business English material, academic English material and books on the New Zealand lifestyle for new immigrants. We also have supplementary material for English Language courses, such as IELTS (International English Language Testing System), TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language), and OET (Occupational English Test).

Our collection is divided into three levels, indicated by a coloured dot on the book’s cover or spine. Level One books are for beginners and they have a yellow dot. Level Two books are for intermediate learners and they have a blue dot. Level Three books are for advanced learners who are at the exam level, and they have a purple dot.

As well as Arapaki, many of our other branches also hold Learning English collections. You can find the collections at: Johnsonville, Karori, Kilbirnie, Miramar, Newtown, and Tawa branches. We also have a free online database for library members called Road to IELTS. It is is an online preparation and practice resource for IELTS, the International English Language Testing System, with general and academic modules.

The Signing of Te Tiriti, Wellington, 29 April 1840

Did you know that as well as being signed in Waitangi on 6 February 1840 the Treaty of Waitangi was also signed in other parts of Aotearoa throughout that year?

Ngā mihi ki a koutou katoa i tēnei wā COVID-19.

He pānui tēnei – ānei ngā rauemi ā-ipurangi mā koutou e kimi, mā koutou e tuku i ō koutou kāinga.

Usually our libraries commemorate the signing of Te Tiriti/Treaty of Waitangi in Te Whanganui-a-Tara/Wellington, 29 April 1840, through special events, displays, and the lending of relevant books or audio-visual material on the kaupapa of Te Tiriti. 

Unfortunately our bricks and mortar libraries are currently closed due to the COVID-19 crisis. However our Māori Specialist Librarian, Ann Reweti, has put together a comprehensive selection of rauemi/resources about Te Tiriti and its signing in Te Whanganui-a-Tara in 1840. These can be accessed through our website or the internet and we are very pleased to provide online links in this special blog.

Lockdown is the perfect time to learn more about our local history and how modern day Wellington and New Zealand have been shaped by our unique past, and the relationships between mana whenua and the crown. Take some time to have a look at these wonderful resources  – for a concise overview of history, places where treaty copies were signed, and lists of signatories to the treaties in each of eight locations –  from the comfort of your own kāinga/home.

NZHistory.govt.nz – Treaty of Waitangi information includes the following topics: the Treaty in brief; English and te reo Māori texts; signings and locations of eight treaty documents; Tiriti timeline; biographies of Tiriti participants.

Te Ara – always presents a good New Zealand story for any discussion –  and there are three video reconstructions around the the signing of Te Tiriti.

Bridget William Book Treaty of Waitangi Collection – This amazing collection of ebooks is available on our Wellington City Libraries ELibrary page. You will need your library card and pin number to access these full-text scholarly works.

NZETC (New Zealand Electronic Text Centre) – These links will take you to the full text versions of the following books:

Early newspaper articles weave some thoughts of Te Tiriti:

Papers Past – Access to New Zealand newspapers from 1843-1845.  

Times Digital Archive (1785-1985) – Full text and searchable, every page of every issue. You will need your library card and pin number to access these.

Other useful resources, including videos:

British Parliamentary Papers: Colonies

The Waitangi Collection: Nz On Screen

National Library Of New Zealand: He Tohu and He Tohu Kōrero snippets

Te Tiriti Based Futures And Anti-racism 2020  – An online conference, 21-30 March, 2020. Includes Jen Margaret and  Julia Whaipooti.  

There are also fantastic audio tapes available from RNZ:

And don’t forget, you can always see the Treaty itself in Wellington at the National Library of New Zealand.

 

Wellington author interview: Pip Adam

Author image by Victoria Birkinshaw

Spacious open plan living. Nest or invest. Classy urban retreat. If you’ve spent a bit of time browsing real estate brochures, you’ve probably read these words before. But there’s another, darker story of renting and home ownership in New Zealand, one without floor plans or glossy full-page photos: The New Animals, by Pip Adam.

Adam’s work has appeared in a range of journals and anthologies, with her short story collection Everything We Hoped For published in 2010 and her debut novel I’m Working on a Building in 2013. She’s been described as “the woman who is making literature subversive fun in this country again… The most wired-in to the seething discontent below the housing bubble.” So put down the brochure and get a copy of The New Animals today!

The blurb for The New Animals references intergenerational tension, however the story also looks at tensions of class, wealth and gender. What was it like shaping a story around these conflicts?

I always think conflict and complexity give ‘life’ to stories. It seems like a boringly obvious thing to say but it is also constantly a surprise to me. I often use writing to sort out things that confuse me about life and I guess confusion is often a state of conflict for me – one idea against another, or maybe things acting in ways that don’t gel with my world view that cause a disruption to the things I believe and understand. For me it is always scary writing about people who I am not, but I have always loved the idea of trying to imagine myself into a mindset that seems confusing to me. Like often I might see someone do something and I have this idea that people always act in ways they see as ‘good’ or ‘right’. I’ve met lots of people and no one ever seems to make decisions by thinking ‘this is wrong thing to do’, even people who have broken the law. So yeah, I am always interested in trying to imagine myself into a mindset that would see decisions I see as odd as the ‘right’ decision.​ I enjoyed it particularly in this work because it was a bit like Sudoko or those tile puzzles, where someone would act and there would be a domino tumble of other people being forced to act.

You recently talked about your relationship with fashion – its power and ability to answer societal questions, but also its environmental impact. How did you approach this in The New Animals, especially with fashion playing such a large role in the story?

I am really interested in design of all types, particularly the form and function, or form versus function. Before I started the book I had this love of fashion which I think was a hangover from my hairdressing days. Like I loved seeing how fashion changed and yeah, also I really like looking at beautiful things. For this book I started taking a more intense interest. I became a rampant foll​ower of fashionable people and people in the fashion industry. I just consumed everything I could. I visited shops as well, touched the clothes, saw them on the hangar and on people. I was also really interested in the history of fashion and some of the theories around fashion. I am especially obsessed with the work of Rei Kawakubo and the way she deconstructs the human form. I love the play of her work but also the real seriousness and almost horror of some of her work. I am also quite obsessed with Alexander McQueen’s life and work – in a lot of cases the violence of it. One of the hard things about writing about fashion is that it is often talked about in quite ‘light’ ways. I had to read very deeply to find the language that had weight and importance. There is a risk that fashion can seem shallow because, I think, it is ephemeral and seems to be about adornment when often it is about so much more.

The New Animals is very grounded in Auckland. How do you think the city’s geography helped with the story?

I really love Auckland. I grew up there and I visit a lot.​ It’s interesting you ask about geography because I think it is a really interesting city that way. Like you have that massive volcanic basin that is the harbour and then you have that network of volcanoes that have formed Mt Wellington and Mt Eden and, yeah, I often think of Auckland as this volatile place. My parents live close to Stonefields which is a development built on the site of an old quarry. Auckland has this feeling for me of land acted on. Land in flux, land in change and to me this book is a lot about that, about change and fluidity and evolution and I think walking around Auckland, travelling over it which I did heaps of for this book it’s impossible not to feel that. For instance, the train I catch a lot from Glen Innes travels over the Orakei Basin, this incredibly changeable place. If the tide is in, it looks like a body of water, but when the tide is out it transforms into this muddy almost wasteland. Everything that was covered by the water is exposed. I like that as an image as well, the way things can be exposed by changes in environment. Tides are a big part of my thinking around this book. The way the moon pulls these huge bodies of water around, the way they kind of create these weather patterns deep below us. And then don’t even get me started about how humans began as fish, how the ocean must have some strange pull on us still.

One aspect that really stood out was the friendship between Carla and Duey, with the contrast between their interactions and their personal thoughts, and their awareness of the friendship’s decline. Was this relationship a difficult one to write?

For a long time, in the writing process, Carla and Duey had been lovers and it just wasn’t doing what I wanted it to do. We so often place the ‘sex’ relation above all other intimate relationships. I am really interested in friendship. I find it so interesting. What keeps friendships alive is so complicated but also so purely unselfish. I liked the idea that Carla and Duey were at a stage where the relationship (as if it were a separate thing from the two people in it) was in decline, like despite all their care and thought for each other nothing was going to save it. It was difficult to write because I don’t read many books about friendships that are like that, so in a way the models I had were very much about love and sex relationships. So it took some sorting out, like some real close work. The other thing that I loved about writing that relationship is that I think it is pretty cool how humans can think one thing and then act in a better way. I love how we do that for each other. I guess also, finally, I was interested in deconstructing some of the ‘work’ we do in human relationships. Like, I find people pretty confusing sometimes, a lot of the relating stuff doesn’t come automatically to me. So, I am often thinking a lot about what the right thing to say is or what a person is saying (like actually saying). It was fun to make some of that work apparent, to sort of uncover that and show it.

Reviews of The New Animals have generated some discussion about New Zealand literature and the reviewing process. What has it been like seeing the passion your work has brought out in people?

Writing is a weird thing. I really like the part of writing that takes place in a room by myself. I love working on something, like really working on something – crafting it and messing it up and having to fix it and ​living with it. I find I get so ‘into’ that work (like I literally feel like I climb inside the story) that I forget that other people will read it. So yeah, sometimes publication is a bit of a shock. Like I remember after my first book was published someone I didn’t know said to me, ‘I read your book,’ and I was like, ‘I never said you could.’ I just forget that people will read it. So, it’s pretty amazing when people I respect say they like what I’ve written. People will email me and tell me in person and it means heaps because I’ve sort of ‘shown my hand’ as a human. I’ve said, ‘I made this. I think this is how life is awesome,’ and when someone says, ‘I see what you’ve made and it made me think this is how I think life is awesome,’ that is just incredible. I love how art can do that and I’m not sure much else can. I put a lot of stake in passion. I love the way, in my life, I have been granted the opportunity to come into contact with many people who make me feel passionate and I just get fired up about the idea that our work sort of sparks off each other. Like no matter what is going on. No matter what other people are saying about our work, we can sustain ourselves. It’s like the biggest collaboration. Because although I love those times by myself working, I am never far from the work of others, I will be reading those writers to keep me going, to keep me passionate.

Pip Adam's The New Animals