Wellington Writers Walk 21st anniversary: Event video

Recently at Karori Library, we had the rare opportunity to celebrate the 21st anniversary of the Wellington Writers Walk the iconic waterfront walk. This very special event featured two of New Zealand’s most celebrated authors, Elizabeth Knox and Dame Fiona Kidman, who were interviewed by author, broadcaster and Writers Walk committee member Tanya Ashcroft. During this wide-ranging conversation, Elizabeth Knox and Dame Fiona Kidman talked about the creation and future of this wonderful Wellington institution, as well as the part they’ve played in making the walk the much-loved success it is.

The event has now passed into history, but with the participants and Writer’s Walk committee permission we were able to film the proceedings and are now proud to present a video of the evening.

For anyone unfamiliar, this walk along Wellington’s beautiful waterfront pedestrian precinct is considered by many as “one of the world’s loveliest urban land-and-seascapes”. It consists of sculptural quotations situated in picturesque locations from the writings of a selection of iconic New Zealand authors – both past and contemporary. The walk celebrates and commemorates the place of Wellington in these writers’ lives, and their place in the life of Wellington.

Writers on the walk include: Katherine Mansfield, Robin Hyde, Pat Lawlor, Denis Glover, James K. Baxter, Bruce Mason, Lauris Edmond, Maurice Gee, Patricia Grace, Vincent O’Sullivan, Barbara Anderson, Alistair Te Ariki Campbell, Eileen Duggan, Bill Manhire and our very special guests Dame Fiona Kidman and Elizabeth Knox.

We wish to extend our most heartfelt thanks to Elizabeth Knox, Dame Fiona Kidman and Tanya Ashcroft. We’d also like to thank Karori Library and its staff and The Wellington Writers walk committee for making this very special event happen.

You can now view the video below or visit our You Tube channel.

The Wellington Writers Walk is a project of the Wellington Branch of the New Zealand Society of Authors Te Puni Kaituhi o Aotearoa (PEN NZ) Inc.

Below is a very small selection of Elizabeth Knox and Fiona Kidman titles available to borrow.

So far, for now : on journeys, widowhood and stories that are never over / Kidman, Fiona
“Evocative, wry and thought-provoking, this is a rewarding journey with one of our finest writers. It is a little over a decade since Fiona Kidman wrote her last volume of memoir. But her story did not end on its last page; instead her life since has been busier than ever, filled with significant changes, new writing and fascinating journeys. From being a grandmother to becoming a widow, from the suitcase-existence of book festivals to researching the lives and deaths of Jean Batten and Albert Black, she has found herself in new territory and viewed the familiar with fresh eyes. ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The absolute book / Knox, Elizabeth
“Taryn Cornick believes that the past is behind her – her sister’s death by violence, and her own ill-conceived revenge. She has chosen to live a life more professional than personal. She has written a book about the things that threaten libraries – insects, damp, light, fire, carelessness and uncaring. The book is a success, but not all of the attention it brings her is good. There are questions about a fire in the library at Princes Gate, her grandparents’ house, and about an ancient scroll box known as the Firestarter. A policeman, Jacob Berger, has questions about a cold case. There are threatening phone calls. And a shadowy young man named Shift appears, bringing his shadows with him. Taryn, Jacob, Shift – three people are driven towards a reckoning felt in more than one world.” (Adapted from Catalogue)
This mortal boy / Kidman, Fiona
“Albert Black, known as the ‘jukebox killer’, was only twenty when he was convicted of murdering another young man in a fight at a milk bar in Auckland on 26 July 1955. His crime fuelled growing moral panic about teenagers, and he was to hang less than five months later, the second-to-last person to be executed in New Zealand. But what really happened? Was this a love crime, was it a sign of juvenile delinquency? Or was this dark episode in our recent history more about our society’s reaction to outsiders.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook 
Dreamhunter / Knox, Elizabeth
“Fast-paced and dazzlingly imaginative, Dreamhunter will draw the reader into an extraordinary fictional world in which dreams are as vividly described as the cream cakes in the tea shop, the sand on the beach or teenage first love.Set in 1906, Dreamhunter describes a world very similar to ours, except for a special place, known simply as The Place, where only a select group of people can go. These people are called Dreamhunters and they harvest dreams which are then transmitted to the general public for the purposes of entertainment, therapy – or terror and political coercion.Fifteen-year-old cousins Laura Hame and Rose Tiebold both come from famous dreamhunting families, but only Laura proves to be blessed with the gift and once inside The Place she finds out what happened to her missing dreamhunter father and reveals how the government has used dreams to control an ever-growing population of convicts and political dissenters.” (Adapted from Catalogue)
All the way to summer : stories of love and longing / Kidman, Fiona
“Fiona Kidman’s early stories about New Zealand women’s experiences scandalised readers with their vivid depictions of the heartbreaks and joys of desire, illicit liaisons and unconventional love. Her writing made her a feminist icon in the early 1980s, and she has since continued to tell the realities of women’s lives, her books resonating with many readers over the years and across the world. To mark her 80th birthday, this volume brings together a variety of her previously published stories as well as several that are new or previously uncollected; all moving, insightful and written with love. The final stories trace her own history of love, a memoir of significant people from childhood and beyond.” (Adapted from Catalogue)
The angel’s cut / Knox, Elizabeth
” Boomtown Los Angeles, 1929: Into a world of movie lots and speakeasies comes Xas, stunt flier and wingless angel, still nursing his broken heart, and determined only to go on living in the air. But there are forces that will keep him on the ground. Forces like Conrad Cole, movie director and aircraft designer, a glory-seeking king of the grand splash who is also a man sinking into his own sovereign darkness. And Flora McLeod, film editor and maimed former actress, who sees something in Xas that no one has ever seen before, not even God, who made him, or Lucifer, the general he once followed – Lucifer, who has lost Xas once, but won’t let that be the end of it. ” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook. 
The infinite air / Kidman, Fiona
“Jean Batten became an international icon in the 1930s. A brave, beautiful woman, she made a number of heroic solo flights across the world. The newspapers couldn’t get enough of her; and yet she suddenly slipped out of view, disappearing to the Caribbean with her mother and dying in obscurity in Majorca, buried in a pauper’s grave.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.


The vintner’s luck / Knox, Elizabeth
“One summer night in 1808, Sobran Jodeau sets out to drown his love sorrows in his family’s vineyard when he stumbles on an angel. Once he gets over his shock, Sobran decides that Xas, the male angel, is his guardian sent to counsel him on everything from marriage to wine production. But Xas turns out to be a far more mysterious character. Compelling and erotic, The Vintner’s Luck explores a decidedly unorthodox love story as Sobran eventually comes to love and be loved by both Xas and the young Countess de Valday, his friend and employer at the neighboring chateau.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an Audiobook.

Wellington Writers Walk 21st anniversary: Bill Manhire

To celebrate the 21st anniversary of the fabulous Wellington Writers Walk, we’ve taken a closer look  at just a few of the authors represented. In this blog we take a look at Bill Manhire’s typographical sculpture, which features a quote taken from ‘Milky Way Bar’ in Milky Way Bar, Victoria University Press, 1991

I live at the edge
of the universe,
like everybody else.

In the video below, local authors and Wellington Writers Walk Committee members Philippa Werry and Maggie Rainey-Smith explore Manhire’s work, to be found overlooking the water by the  bridge, near the Hikitia floating crane. They provide a fascinating insight into Bill Manhire’s work life and creative process, and also celebrate his continuing achievements, body of work and connections to Wellington.

Milky Way bar / Manhire, Bill
“Collection of award winning Bill Manhire poetry first released in 1992. Which includes his Wellington Writers Walk poem  ” (Adapted from Catalogue)




Selected poems / Manhire, Bill
“This generous selection of Bill Manhire’s poems moves from playful early pieces like “On Originality” and “How to Take off Your Clothes at the Picnic” to major works of recent years such as “Hotel Emergencies”–a powerful response to contemporary atrocities–and “Erebus Voices”–written to be read by Sir Edmund Hillary at the 25th anniversary of the Mt. Erebus tragedy. The poems featured in this definitive collection of New Zealand’s most important poet are deceptively simple, often funny, and always revelatory of his own and his country’s history.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

South Pacific / Manhire, Bill
“”In this lively, humorous and original book, the romance of the Pacific confronts the truth about that paradise. The stories include a do-it-yourself murder mystery an assassination attempt on the Queen, the hilarious account of a Writers’ Congress in Kuala Lumpur, and an unsettling, futuristic tale from 1999.” “Set in New Zealand and its environs, several of the pieces were first collected in The New Land, which won the 1990 Buckland Award for the best work of literature published in New Zealand. In South Pacific Bill Manhire has added view tales and other work. A vein of satire runs through his stories. Yet rooted as many of them are in a particular place and time, the laughter they generate is anything but local.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The victims of lightning / Manhire, Bill
“Building on previous themes and introducing some new techniques, this collection reveals a respected poet at the height of his powers. Here are finely crafted lyrics, found poems, a bracket of songs, and complex emotions–all tempered by the use of humor.” (Adapted from Catalogue)



Wow / Manhire, Bill
“Excuse me if I laugh. The roads are dark and large books block our path. The air we breathe is made of evening air. The world is longer than the road that brings us here. Bill Manhire’s new book begins with the song of an extinct bird, the huia, and journeys on into troubling futures. These poems reach for the possibilities of lyric, even as their worlds are being threatened in a range of agitating ways. In the title poem we hear a baby say Wow to life and to the astonishing prospect of language; but almost immediately we hear the world reply: Also. Along the way there are several desperate jokes. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The stories of Bill Manhire / Manhire, Bill
“Collects the stories from The New Land : A Picture Book (1990) and the stories added to South Pacific (1994) and Songs of My Life (1996). In addition there are previously uncollected and unpublished stories, the choose-your-own-adventure novella The Brain of Katherine Mansfield (1988), and the memoir Under the Influence (2003).” (Adapted from Catalogue)


Lifted / Manhire, Bill
“An award-winning collection exploring the plight of the secular spirit in the face of mortality and human violence, this work demonstrates a poet writing at the height of his powers.” (Adapted from Catalogue)



Some things to place in a coffin / Manhire, Bill
“Bill Manhire’s first new collection of poems for seven years takes its title from his elegy for his close friend the painter Ralph Hotere, who died in 2013. At its heart is the sequence ‘Known Unto God’, commissioned by the BBC for the centenary of the Battle of the Somme in 2016. These are poems of memory and mortality, which are also full of jokes and good tunes.” (Adapted from Catalogue)


Mutes & earthquakes : Bill Manhire’s creative writing course at Victoria

New Zealand Music Month Feature Interview: Sandbox Studio

Sandbox Studio on Facebook

New Zealand Music Month logo - May 2023

Local recording studio Sandbox Studio is the best kept secret in the Wellington Music scene, but word is spreading far and wide, and a growing number of artists are coming from all over the country and even across the Tasman to record their sound with Sandbox Studio.

This uniquely located studio was once the living room of the apartment next door, which was built for the owner as a city crash pad. The Penthouse extension which now houses Sandbox Studio was built in the early ’70s but had been abandoned, and was essentially unoccupied for the best part of 10 years or so, before engineer Benni Krueger & musician Jon Lemmon took on the lease in 2016. Initially planned as an art and music space, it eventually became a shared music space, before evolving into a professional recording studio.

For New Zealand Music Month we are premiering a retrospective look at Sandbox Studio, with a feature-length video comprising multiple retrospective interviews conducted over several time periods, along with archival video footage and photos representing the evolution of the studio and its equipment over time. Now jointly run by studio engineers Benni Krueger and Peter Molteno, we talked with studio co-founders Benni, Daniela Mogin and Lorenzo Buhne about how they came to be involved in the studio’s creation, the building of their unique isolation booth, their thoughts on the Wellington music scene, and many other topics.

Today Sandbox Studio is one of Wellington’s top recording studios — a streamlined, professional powerhouse with a fast-paced turnover. In the time since we filmed some of these segments, Sandbox Studio has worked with over 100 new artists and have made significant improvements to the space, equipment, and workflow.

This feature is a snapshot of the studio in its infancy rather than how it is represented today, but it tells the fascinating story of how three people from completely different backgrounds and different countries came together to create something unique and special for the local music scene in Wellington.

Wellington Writers Walk: Iris Guiver Wilkinson, aka Robin Hyde

To celebrate the 21st anniversary of the fabulous Wellington Writers Walk, we’ve taken a closer look at just a few of the authors represented. In this blog we take a look at Iris Guiver Wilkinson’s, aka Robin Hyde’s, typographical sculpture, which features a quote taken from ‘Words’ in Young Knowledge: The Poems of Robin Hyde, ed. Michele Leggott, Auckland University Press, 2003

Yet I think, having used my words as the kings used gold,

Ere we came by the rustling jest of the paper kings,

I who am overbold will be steadily bold,

In the counted tale of things.

In the video below, local authors and Wellington Writers Walk Committee members Philippa Werry and Maggie Rainey-Smith explain Hyde’s work, to be found on a shaded bench overlooking the bay at the back of Te Papa Tongarewa / Museum of New Zealand. They provide a fascinating insight into Robin Hyde’s short, complex and eventful life, and also celebrate her astounding body of work and connections to Wellington.

Young knowledge : the poems of Robin Hyde / Hyde, Robin
“Familiar to many for her fiction and her life story, after publication of “The Book of Iris”, “The Book of Nadath” and the reissue of “The Godwits Fly” in recent years, prolific writer Robin Hyde’s first and best love was actually her poetry. “Young Knowledge: the Poems of Robin Hyde” presents for the very first time a substantial collection of Hyde’s powems, set as a choronological record.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The book of Iris : a life of Robin Hyde / Challis, D. A.
“It is a gripping and profoundly moving story about a “short, tumultuous, incredibly productive, sad and doomed life. It suggests comparison with both Mansfield and Frame . . .”. A dramatic and densely packed story, including appalling accounts of hidden pregnancies, life as a solo mother, drug dependency, intimate acquaintance with sexism and poverty, mental breakdown, and an extraordinary trip in China during the Sino-Japanese war.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The godwits fly / Hyde, Robin
“”By the time Robin Hyde wrote The Godwits Fly she was an experienced and prolific poet, journalist and novelist with an emerging international reputation. She could write with precision and edge. She was alert to different ways of seeing and voicing experience, intense and independent-minded. She stood for the underdog and for the cause of humanity. Her own brief life – thirty-three years, 1906-39 – was a roller-coaster of successes and deep despair. But she held her own line passionately against all odds, and she took the consequences of living hard – recklessly at times – with bravery and spirit.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Nor the years condemn / Hyde, Robin
“‘They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old; Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.'” “The line from the Anzac verse provides the title for this novel, in which Robin Hyde shows the predicament of returned servicemen and women after the First World War. Through the story of Douglas Stark, we see the many ways in which New Zealand was failing their expectations. It was not the ‘land fit for heroes’ they had fought for, but a changing society moving through the tough times of the twenties and thirties.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The book of Nadath / Hyde, Robin
“The Book of Nadath is a long prose poem by well-known poet and novelist Robin Hyde which has remained unpublished for 60 years. Written in 1937, Hyde’s last year in New Zealand, it is a sounding device for all the concerns which mark The Godwits Fly, A Home in this World and Nor the Years Condemn. It is arguably the crowning achievement of her poetry. It expresses dilemmas of identity, race and gender still current at the end of the century; but the moment of 1937 is its primary focus, the problem of how to articulate crisis – which writing voice best serves political and spiritual truth – is its enduring fascination.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Iris and Me / Werry, Philippa
Philippa Werry’s  latest novel Iris and Me looks at Robin Hyde’s  entire life touching on her both her childhood and final days , but the book is primarily focussed on her time in China and her journey there. Including her time as a War correspondent during the Sino-Japanese War.” (Adapted from Catalogue)


The uppish hen & other poems / Hyde, Robin
“A previously unpublished collection by Robin Hyde, one of NZ’s finest authors/ journalists, written for her son, Derek Challis. Richly illustrated by Glenorchy artist Dïne.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Interview: Legendary musician David Long

Photo of David Long against a light yellow circle and his latest album art.

David Long is a legend in the New Zealand music scene. He started his musical career performing in the Braille Collective, in bands such as Six Volts and Jungle, and was a founding member of The Mutton Birds with Don McGlashan. These days, Long can be found working in a very wide spectrum of musical activities.

Long did compositional music for contemporary dance pieces working extensively with choreographer Douglas Wright. He works on the musical, soundscape side for a whole host of television and film projects; he has worked with Peter Jackson and has played some part in every one of his film for the last twenty years, including Lord of the Rings trilogy.  Long even worked with Brian Eno on the soundtrack to The Lovely Bones.

He also does a lot of production work, having produced many of New Zealand’s finest musicians and ,recently, doing production work for the recently formed Oro record label.

Long has worked on a wide range of collaborative projects, such as with Richard Nunn and Natalia Mann on the album Utterance. He has also just released a new work of his own, titled Ash and Bone. He has also won several silver scroll APRA awards, amongst many other musical accolades. Basically, in musical terms , Long has excelled at everything and so when we got the chance to interview him, we jumped at it.

Coming soon, we have an exclusive filmed interview with Long where we talk all things musical. For now, to whet your appetite, we recently had the pleasure of interviewing Long in conjunction with the Caffeine and Aspirin on Radioactive FM about his new album, Ash and Bone, and various other aspects of his career. Below is the podcast of that interview for your enjoyment:

We are thrilled that Long has taken time out from his very busy schedule to talk to us about his new release, his career, and all things musical. We extend our heartfelt thanks. Keep an eye out for our filmed interview coming soon!

For more information on David, visit https://www.davidlongnz.com/

And for more information on Rattle records, visit https://rattle.co.nz/

Envy of angels [1 CD] / Mutton Birds
“Envy of Angels could have been recorded ten years earlier considering its invocation of the new south — in particular the moodiness of Dumptruck — not to mention similarities to more commercial guitar rock of the same period […] Perhaps it isn’t a coincidence that Hugh Jones, who also worked with Dumptruck, produced Envy of Angels. He renders the Mutton Birds’ guitar strum and jangle in more solemn than bright tones, which suits the sometimes poetic lyrics and unusual chord progressions. ~ Greg Adams” ( Adapted from Catalogue)

Ash and bone. / Long, David
“Musicians David Long, synthesisers, banjo, electronics, electric guitar ; Carolyn Mills, harp ; Andrew Jarvis, tuba ; Mark Carter, trumpet ; Rachel Vernon, bass clarinet ; Pat Barry, clarinet ; Bridget Douglas, flute ; Riki Gooch, percussion, electronics. Contents Underground — Ash and bone — I follow it — You want to fight everything — The long long walk — A second glance — Wash your mouth out — Water the earth.” ( Adapted from Catalogue.) 

Utterance / Long, David
“Musicians …David Long, banjo, theremin, bowed guitar ; Richard Nunns, taonga pūoro ; Natalia Mann, harp, prepared harp, zither, gongs, voice. Tracks Perilous knowledge — Old shadows — Spider shell — Upper circle, lower case — Celestial dog — Mercury — The nearest clear liquid — We died once — City of green — Hidden cameras — Begin again.” ( Adapted from Catalogue) 

Flock : the best of The Mutton Birds / Mutton Birds

” Other Title Best of The Mutton Birds. Contents …Dominion Road — Nature — The heater — A thing well made — White Valiant — In my room — Anchor me — Wellington — Queen’s English — Don’t fear the reaper — While you sleep — She’s been talking — Come around — Envy of angels — As close as this — Last year’s shoes — Pulled along by love — Not to take sides.” ( Adapted from Catalogue)

The Mutton Birds. / Mutton Birds
Dominion Road (3:55) — Your window (4:39) — A thing well made (4:39) — She’s like a city (3:56) — Before the breakthrough (4:52) — White Valiant (5:12) — Giant friend (3:15) — Big fish (4:33) — No plans for later (2:31) — Nature (3:39).” ( Adapted from Catalogue) 


Salty / Mutton Birds
The heater — Ngaire — You will return — Wellington — In my room — When the wind comes round — Queen’s English — Salty my dear — There’s a limit — Esther — No telling when — Anchor me — Too close to the sun — Don’t fight it, Marsha, it’s bigger than both of us. ” ( Adapted from Catalogue) 



Interview with Rod Oram: Life after COP26

Image of a hand holding a small globe in front of a mountain landscape.

With economies stagnating, politics polarising, societies shattering and ecosystems suffering, I felt an urgent need to go walkabout last September. It was my best chance of making some sense of the news from around the world. Most crucially of all, the ominous signs of the onset of the Anthropocene… — Rod Oram, Three Cities

The New York Times declared 2020 “the year you finally read a book about climate change”. Two years on, there’s been a dramatic increase in the number of titles addressing this vital topic–as well as ongoing interest in earlier works. One of our favourites here at Wellington City Libraries is Three Cities: Seeking Hope in the Anthropocene by Rod Oram. (Borrow a copy here or read it via our eLibrary.)

Rod Oram has been writing and speaking about climate change for the past fifteen years, and is renowned for his ability to explain complex ideas in clear, concise language. Luckily for us, he was also present at the recent UN Climate Conference (COP26) during the negotiations surrounding the Glasgow Climate Pact. How will the pact influence Aotearoa? How will it shape the rest of the world? We contacted Rod to find out…

Rod Oram: https://bit.ly/3qBXOAX https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

If there’s a concerted effort to put the Glasgow Climate Pact into action, what key international developments should we see over the next twelve months?

Rod Oram: Momentum on climate action built rapidly in the past few years, accelerated in Glasgow, and will continue to gain speed, scale and impact in 2022 — although there will always be leaders and laggards among countries, sections of society and industries. Three big trends to watch for: countries increasing their climate pledges (their Nationally Determined Contributions); more action and ambition by farmers and food processors; greater civil society responses, ranging from more innovative climate solutions to more intense protests.

The New Zealand delegation to COP26 announced they would “show the world what meaningful, ambitious and lasting climate action looks like.” What could this mean for us in the near future?

Rod Oram: We have made big emission reduction commitments to the rest of the world…but we still lack policy responses to help deliver them. So, crucially next May, the government will release its Emissions Reduction Plan. This will lay out the government’s broad architecture for those inter-linked policies. To succeed, it has to be a roadmap for deep changes in structures, systems and behaviour in the economy and society. Then, civil society, business and other essential actors have to respond rapidly with their own ambitions and plans. That applies across all aspects of our lives from how we design and build our towns and cities, how we decarbonise all our transport (including aviation), how we use land for farming and other purposes, how we use resources, consume products and recycle/repurpose after, and how we restore our ecosystems to help solve the co-crises of climate breakdown and ecosystem degradation – solutions to one are often solutions to the other, and vice versa.

Stenbocki maja: https://bit.ly/3zBQkSW https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/

You mentioned that there was very little New Zealand business presence at COP26. What role could New Zealand businesses have in lasting climate action, and what would be the benefits of a larger business presence at COP27?

Rod Oram: Businesses create most of the goods and services we (individuals and society) want and/or need; they have the skills, capital, technologies, and knowledge required to do so; and they respond to the needs and desires of those customers. Thus they are crucial to devising and delivering better and new climate solutions. However, they also depend on us (customers, government, society at large) for their survival. So we all have a symbiotic relationship with each other. At COPs, businesses can contribute to many of the climate solutions; but crucially they also learn a lot from other businesses, governments and civil society. The greater the number of New Zealand businesses at COP27, the more New Zealand business in general will lift its climate commitments and performance…and the more government and civil society will benefit from that enhanced business capability.

How do you address the differences between governmental, business and activist approaches to climate action? There seemed to be tensions at COP26 with the final morning walkout of several hundred representatives?

Rod Oram: All three have crucial, distinctive and different roles to play on climate in general and at COPs particularly. The tensions and conflict between them are good and necessary when they are challenged constructively into more creative, more ambitious and more effective action. COP26 was positive, for example, on progress of indigenous, human, gender and justice issues on climate, and for some progress (but far from enough) on developed countries’ financial and other forms of help to developing countries. But at COP26 some civil society delegates were more frustrated than at recent COPs because seats for them in negotiating sessions were more limited than usual (or even absent). This seemed to be because of poor planning and Covid restrictions…rather than a deliberate policy by the UK (as hosts) and the UN to reduce the civil society presence in many meetings.

COP26 Global Day of Action: https://bit.ly/3skYgWM

One area that has had a lot of focus in New Zealand recently has been methane, specifically in relation to dairy farming. What are the possible outcomes here in terms of the Global Methane Pledge, Nestle’s policies, Groundswell protests, etc.?

Rod Oram: Globally, the initial focus of the Pledge is to reduce emissions from oil and gas production. But agriculture is a bigger source of human-induced methane emissions than oil and gas. So in due course there will be more focus / pressure on agriculture to reduce its emissions. A growing number of major multinational producers such as Nestle (dairy and other foods) and Unilever (diversified producer of personal care, food and other household consumer items) and retailers (e.g. the five largest UK supermarket chains) have ambitious, science-based targets for reducing methane and CO2 emissions. Most New Zealand farming and food business are lagging well behind…but they will come under increasing international pressure to catch up. To do so they will need to work far more effectively with those farmers who are finding change very hard or believe it is totally unnecessary. Groundswell seems to draw many of its members from such farmers.

Are there any potential climate actions/policies/technologies that you’d like to see more promotion of post-COP26? (Particularly ones that haven’t received as much focus as they deserve?).

Rod Oram: Our biggest climate tasks fall into two broad categories: built-environments; and farm environments. On both we’re failing to identify, let alone act on, big systemic solutions. On the first, that covers the way we design and build towns and cities and the transport systems for them (e.g. we need higher, far more attractive density, featuring much more natural materials (e.g. timber over concrete), much greater presence of nature for ecosystem services, food growing, recreation etc; and much more active and public transport and diversified transport options. On the second, we are largely ignoring regenerative agricultural practices that lower emissions and rebuild ecosystem health; and beneficial de-intensification and diversification of farming.

How are journalists adapting to covering the climate emergency, and what new challenges does this involve?

Rod Oram: Climate coverage is increasing. But challenges include: conveying the complexity and urgency of the climate crisis; empowering people so they are eager to act; encouraging beneficial behaviour change (e.g. in the choices we make); and showing people the big upsides from acting (and the grave consequences from not).

Discover more with our climate booklist:

Three cities : seeking hope in the Anthropocene / Oram, Rod
“Orthodox is obsolete; conventional is kaput. We thought we knew how we make economics, politics, technology and nature work for us. But increasingly, they are failing to run by the rules and systems we’ve honed over recent decades. Pioneers around the world are seeking new values, systems and technologies. Thus equipped we might achieve the unprecedented, speed, scale and complexity of change we need to meet the immense challenges of the twenty-first century.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Saving us : a climate scientist’s case for hope and healing in a divided world / Hayhoe, Katharine
“Over the past fifteen years Hayhoe has found that the most important thing we can do to address climate change is talk about it-and she wants to teach you how. In Saving Us, Hayhoe argues that when it comes to changing hearts and minds, facts are only one part of the equation. We need to find shared values in order to connect our unique identities to collective action.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Under a white sky : the nature of the future / Kolbert, Elizabeth
“So pervasive are human impacts on the planet that it’s said we live in a new geological epoch: the Anthropocene. In Under a White Sky, Elizabeth Kolbert examines how the very sorts of interventions that have imperilled our planet are increasingly seen as the only hope for its salvation. By turns inspiring, terrifying, and darkly comic, Under a White Sky is an utterly original examination of the challenges we face.” (Catalogue)

The rough guide to climate change / Henson, Robert
The Rough Guide to Climate Change is a complete, unbiased guide to one of the most pressing problems facing humanity. From the current situation and background science to the government sceptics and possible solutions, this book covers the whole subject. The guide also includes lifestyle advice and tips for consumers who want to make a difference in tomorrow’s climate, and comes complete with a glossary of websites for further information.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

How bad are bananas? : the carbon footprint of everything / Berners-Lee, Mike
“Ten years on from first publication, a new edition of this invaluable and entertaining guide that shows just what effect everything has on carbon emissions, from a Google search to a plastic bag, from a flight to a volcano. This new edition updates all the figures (from data centres to hosting a World Cup) and introduces many areas that have become a regular part of modern life – Twitter, the Cloud, Bitcoin, electric bikes and cars, even space tourism.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Net zero : how we can stop causing climate change / Helm, Dieter
“What can we really do about the climate emergency? The inconvenient truth is that we are causing the climate crisis with our carbon intensive lifestyles and that fixing – or even just slowing – it will affect all of us. But it can be done. In Net Zero, economist Dieter Helm addresses the action we all need to take to tackle the climate emergency: personal, local, national and global.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Fathoms : the world in the whale / Giggs, Rebecca
“When Rebecca Giggs encountered a humpback whale stranded on her local beach, she began to wonder how the lives of whales might shed light on our seas. How do whales experience environmental change? Has our connection to these fabled animals been transformed by technology? What future awaits us, and them? And what does it mean to write about nature in the midst of an ecological crisis? In Fathoms, Giggs blends natural history, philosophy, and science to explore these questions with clarity and hope.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Entangled life : how fungi make our worlds, change our minds and shape our futures / Sheldrake, Merlin
“Merlin Sheldrake’s revelatory introduction to this world will show us how fungi, and our relationships with them, are more astonishing than we could have imagined. Bringing to light science’s latest discoveries and ingeniously parsing the varieties and behaviours of the fungi themselves, he points us toward the fundamental questions about the nature of intelligence and identity this massively diverse, little understood kingdom provokes.” (Catalogue)

Islands of abandonment : life in the post-human landscape / Flyn, Cal
“This book explores the extraordinary places where humans no longer live – or survive in tiny, precarious numbers – to give us a possible glimpse of what happens when mankind’s impact on nature is forced to stop. From Tanzanian mountains to the volcanic Caribbean, the forbidden areas of France to the mining regions of Scotland, Flyn brings together some of the most desolate, eerie, ravaged and polluted areas in the world – and shows how, against all odds, they offer our best opportunities for environmental recovery.” (Adapted from Catalogue)