Planning a Holiday? Books for your future adventures

When you are on an overseas trip, is it easy to order food other than McDonalds? Would you like to know what to say in response to friendly local’s greeting? Here are some resources on language, culture and food, perfect to read while you plan your next flight to escape the winter and wind.

  • Mango Languages is the free resources for learning key phrases to survive your next trip at many popular travel destinations such as Indonesia, France, Japan, and more.

Lonely Planet Fijian phrasebook & dictionary
“Dazzling sands, perfect palm trees and waters so blue they glow – Fiji’s beaches look airbrushed. While most Fiji locals can speak English, it’s not their mother tongue. Never be stuck for words with our extensive two-way dictionary; order the right meal with our menu decoder; refreshed look and improved navigation. Get more from your trip with easy-to-find phrases for every travel situation. Use our carefully selected words and phrases to get around with ease.” (Adapted from

“Rough Guide Japanese Phrasebook: a convenient, contemporary travel companion from Rough Guides’ trusted language experts. Compact, clear, and packed with key words and phrases to help conversation, this pocket-sized Japanese phrasebook is a trusty travel companion, and all you need to make yourself understood when you’re visiting Japan. With its emphasis on conversational usage, and pop language – this is the only phrase book you’ll need when exploring Japan.” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

South Pacific phrasebook / Te ‘Atamira
“Your passport to the most relevant South Pacific phrases and vocabulary for all your travel needs. Chat over dinner with a local family in Fiji, understand the hula in Hawaii, and join a traditional umukai feast in Rarotonga. With language tools in your back pocket, you can truly get to the heart of wherever you go. Languages: Fijian, Hawaiian, Kanak languages, Maori, Niuean, Rapanui, Rarotongan Maori, Samoan, Tahitian, Tongan, Fijian Hindi, Pacific French and Spanish”. (Adapted from

Flavours of South Australia : favourite restaurants, wineries and producers with their signature recipes
“You’ve never seen South Australia like this before. From farm gates to cellar doors and hidden bars to extraordinary restaurants, prepare to immerse yourself in the best of South Australia’s culinary scene. Within these pages you can journey from the remarkable restaurants in Adelaide to the world-renowned wineries and producers of the Barossa.” (Catalogue)

Tokyo : a pocket guide to the city’s best cultural hangouts, shops, bars and eateries / Wide, Steve
“Tokyo is a city of contemporary metropolis where there are bright lights and neon, bars under railway bridges, Michelin ramen and sushi, tech, toys, coffee and vintage shopping. The crazy, the cute, the chic and the traditional are all flourishing in this city. All you need to know to shop, eat, drink and explore. Also nearby places like Nikko, Hakone, Mount Takao, and the cute ‘Eno-den’ train from Kamakura to Enoshima and Fujisawa.” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

Korean BBQ & Japanese grills / Cramby, Jonas
“In Korean BBQ & Japanese Grills Jonas Cramby explores recipes of Korean and Japanese barbecue and culture. He shares his favourite recipes such as yakitori, yakiniku and izakaya-style classics and Korean BBQ. He also outlines how to perfectly ferment kimchi, how to grill indoors without choking and how to chill a refreshing lager without it turning to ice.  Simple salt and fire with the right practice and the right technique can turn into something sublime ” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

Thai in 7 : delicious Thai recipes in 7 ingredients or fewer / Holmes, Sebby
“Thai recipes often has too many ingredients, so it becomes a cuisine we treat ourselves at a restaurant rather than cook at home. Author shows how to make deliciously fragrant and fiery Thai dishes with ingredients from supermarkets. From Drunken Noodles with Tiger Prawns and Sweet Basil to Yellow Curry with Mushrooms and Crispy Tofu with Soy & Sesame Glaze. Also pickles and desserts to make your taste buds tingle.” (Adapted from the Catalogue)



Tonga Language Week

This year’s theme for Tonga Language Week is Ke Tu’uloa ‘a e lea faka-Tonga′ ‘i Aotearoa, meaning Sustaining the Tongan Language in Aotearoa. Ke Tu’uloa ‘a e lea faka-Tonga′ ‘i Aotearoa has a positive and progressive connotation, to support the overarching Pacific Language Weeks theme of Sustainability. The word Tu’uloa in the theme this year means to continuously grow, nurture, and sustain a valued idea, practice, event, or memory in an enduring way.

Explore these informative and educational resources that celebrate Tonga’s rich and diverse cultural history. There’s riveting personal biographies, political histories and interactive lessons for learning to speak Tongan. Show your support to Aotearoa’s Tongan community by participating in local events and celebrations- explore the NZ Tonga Language Week Facebook and the Ministry for Pacific People’s website for event details.

Enjoy the Tongan stories, music, language resources and documentaries in our collection.

Voyages : from Tongan villages to American suburbs / Small, Cathy
Voyages offers a view of the changes in migration, globalization, and ethnographic fieldwork over three decades. The author (whose role after thirty years of fieldwork is both ethnographer and family member) reintroduces the reader to four sisters in the same family-two who migrated to the United States and two who remained in Tonga-and reveals what has unfolded in their lives. Imparting new reflections on how immigration and globalization have affected family, economy, tradition, political life, identity, and the practice of anthropology.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Tongan herbal medicine / Whistler, W. Arthur
“The use of medicinal plants dates to prehistoric times when ancient man found that ingestion or application of certain herbs and barks was effective in treating ailments. Herbal medicine is a part of virtually all cultures, and Tonga is no exception. Early visitors in the first decades of the ‘European Era’ in Tongan history noted the relatively minor use of herbal plants, especially in comparison with the adjacent Fiji Islands. Whether or not this evaluation is true may never be learned, but today in Tonga, herbal remedies are used by a large percentage of the population.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The Tongan : a South Pacific adventure / Dyck, Dieter
“From refugee to immigrant, from a Kiwi to a Tongan citizen. This fascinating book describes the events of Dieter Dyck’s journey during and after the end of the Second World War: his sea journey on a Dutch immigrant ship; his marriage to a Tongan princess, Senikau; the formation of his painting business Dyck Decorators Ltd.; his conversion and baptism; his involvement in the 39th Auckland Boys’ Brigade Company and the establishment of The Tongan Beach Resort in Vava’u.” (Catalogue)

Tonga’s way to democracy / Campbell, I. C.
“In 2010 after more than a century of oligarchical government Tonga made the bold step to full parliamentary democracy, catching up with the rest of the island Pacific. This book tells the story of that reform, of the long protest movement that preceded it and how the royal family abruptly espoused democracy.” (Catalogue)




Intensive course in Tongan / Shumway, Eric B
“99 lessons on 14 discs, including songs and readings.” (Catalogue)

Tongan chic / Soane  “Soane’s music was a hit in the NZ and UK dance scenes in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. Born in the village of Vava’u in Tonga, Soane was a pioneering DJ and dance producer.”



When the Man Went South

“Instructed to set out on a journey by his village chief, Flying Fox heads south to learn about his strengths as a man. During his journey he meets two warring villages and attempts to mediate their differences. Flying Fox applies the lessons he learned on his journey when he returns to his home village to find trouble.” (From IMDb)


Kau Faito’o: Traditional Healers of Tonga

“This is a documentary which both shows the ancient traditional art form of healing, and tries to capture the essence of being a traditional healer in an ever changing environment. Traditional healers are shown collecting, preparing and administering herbal remedies that they have passed down from generation to generation. Healers discuss where, why and how they gained their knowledge and why they choose to carry on age-old customs and practices, despite the fact that Tonga is becoming a nation increasingly dependent on western medicine. Tonga’s traditional healers are adapting to niches such as prenatal care and physical therapy. Interspersed throughout the film are beautiful scenes of water, agriculture, rainforest and people which comprise current island life in the Kingdom of Tonga.” (Adapted from IMDb)

Kuo Hina E Hiapo: The Mulberry is White and Ready for Harvest

“Tapa cloth or ngatu as it is called in Tonga, is cloth made from the bark of the mulberry tree. The inner bark is beaten into fine sheets and painted using traditional designs. After centuries of use, ngatu has literally become the fabric of Tongan society. In Tonga and throughout much of Polynesia, bark cloth has deep symbolic and ceremonial use. At birth, babies are swaddled in it. At marriage, newlyweds line their wedding bed, and at death, the departed are buried wrapped in it. This documentary investigates the highly collaborative process of making ngatu and the organizations of women who carry on with the tradition. While the process continues to be passed on from generation to generation, there are signs of change as a cash economy begins to infiltrate Tongan life. Young people show less interest in such labor intensive endeavor in the face of the older generation’s belief that this tradition will never die.” (From IMDb)


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.

Libby app is now available in 10 languages

It’s now possible to enjoy the award-winning eBook and audiobook app Libby with the following languages:

• Spanish                                     • Japanese                     • Swedish
• Simplified Chinese                 • Russian                       • Italian
• Traditional Chinese               • French                         • German

If you already use one of the languages above with your device, Libby will automatically browse, search and display account information in that language now. By changing the default language on your device within settings, you can then view Libby in your newly chosen language.

Account in Simplified Chinese
Browsing in Italian













You can also access Wellington City Libraries Libby website  with the language options above if you are already using your preferred language, or change to another language within your browser’s settings to access a new one.

At the same time, improvements have been made to Libby’s controls, playback speed and sleep timer within the eBook reader and audiobook player. Watch a brief tutorial on these new updates here.

Please contact our eLibrary team for any help here

Important note: To support this upgrade and enable future feature development in the app, Libby’s minimum Android operating system requirement will change from version 4.4+ (KitKat, released in 2013) to version 5.0+ (Lollipop, released in 2014). The iOS minimum requirement for Apple devices (iPhones and iPads) will remain unchanged at 9.0+.



Need a bilingual dictionary? Or any dictionary at all?

Studying a language? Brushing up your French/German/Spanish/Italian for an overseas trip? Oxford Reference Online has bilingual dictionaries available for all of the above – and it’s free to use for library cardholders. (Also included are Irish, Welsh and Latin dictionaries.)

Languages don’t interest you? Oxford Reference Online also includes subject reference resources like science dictionaries, medical dictionaries, dictionaries of quotations, names and places, law, mythology, folklore, psychology – pretty much any kind of dictionary or companion guide you can imagine.

(I think my personal favourite in terms of resources I never expected to encounter, but am chuffed exist, would have to be the Dictionary of Opera Characters, closely followed by the Oxford Companion to the American Musical. Log in and check them out)

As a side note, here’s a selection of other language learning resources you might be interested in:

  1. Q's course in Māori Spanish Language Builder Le chat chapeauté The Very Hungry Caterpillar ; translated into Chinese Arabic practical dictionary At the library: Language kits – the library has these available to borrow in many different languages and they’re $3 to borrow for 4 weeks. We also hold foreign language novels for adults and picture books for children (here’s an example of the French language children’s ones – replace ‘French’ in the search box with your language of choice to search for these in another language), magazines, grammars, vocabularies, and of course dictionaries that you can borrow. Want something more visual? We have foreign language films with English subtitles you can borrow to brush up on your listening comprehension skills (these are $4 for 1 week). Try our languages subject guide for tips on searching for these on our online catalogue.
  2. Also via the library, but this time online: downloadable language learning audiobooks. Try a search on Overdrive Audio in our eLibrary for languages – you’ll be surprised how many language learning audiobooks come up. Easily transferred to your mp3 player of choice.
  3. PressReader – another database the library subscribes to that cardholders can access for free. PressDisplay gives you instant access to over 1700 newspapers from 92 countries in 48 languages. Want to read Le Monde in French while eating breakfast at home? Now you can – and it will appear on the screen laid out exactly like the print version.
  4. BBC Languages – this should be your first stop online. Free audio and video courses, quizzes, and all kinds of excellent resources.
  5. Yahoo News/Google News in different languages, e.g. here’s the German language Google News. Change the country code at the end, e.g. .nz for New Zealand, .de for Germany, .fr for France, to get the version you want. Similarly, reading Wikipedia articles in other languages can be a good test of your reading skills in that language as well, and if you know the subject matter of the article, you’re on familiar territory anyway – which can help! Here are all the different language Wikipedias.
  6. Browser extensions for language learning. There are a great deal of these for Firefox – have a browse and find one you’d like to try. (You’ll need to scroll down the page for a fuller list of popular language learning add-ons).
  7. iPhone apps. We found this article that lists 50 iPhone apps for learning languages, for all you lucky people who happen to have an iPhone. Flash cards!
  8. In-person resources in Wellington… For a small fee (not specified on their website), you can get a public membership to Victoria University’s Language Learning Centre at their Kelburn campus. Other paid courses are run at the Goethe Institut – for German, and the Alliance Française for French. And we’re sure there are more – maybe try a search on
  9. Sometimes iffy, but often useful: Google Translate. Will give you a (very!) loose translation, and can be good if you need an idea of what a page in a language you don’t read is saying. Oh, and did you know there’s a Te Reo interface for the Google search engine.
  10. Hm, and the World Cinema Showcase is coming up too!