Into the Void: Our Interview with Ngaio Marsh Finalist Christina O’Reilly

Continuing our series on this year’s Ngaio Marsh Awards shortlist we are delighted to present a video piece from Christina O’Reilly author of Into the Void.

As her accent still shows Christina grew up in England and emigrated to NZ at the age of twelve.  As well as a writer, Christina is a freelance copy editor and proof reader and has had her short stories published in several anthologies.

Christina had written several previous novels   before being longlisted for the 2019 Michael Gifkins memorial prize which gave her the confidence to publish this novel.

Into the void introduces us to DSS John (Archie) Baldrick and DC Ben Travers. The plot revolves round the disappearance of rural banker Richard Harper his disappearance possess many questions is he really dead? or has he been abducted and tortured?   Eventually it all becomes a race against time as the case descends into a mire of murder, violence and obsession.

One review described the book in the following way    “O’Reilly’s characters are all strong, believable people with equally believable domestic lives and troubles. It’s nicely flavoured with New Zealandness without feeing contrived and carries a story which would work in any international setting”.

We want to extend our biggest thank you to Christina for her time and insightful video. And we wish her and her fellow shortlisted author’s good luck in the final awards ceremony.

The finalists will be celebrated, and the winners announced, as part of a special event at this year’s WORD Christchurch Festival, held from 29 October to 1 November… Enjoy.

Below are some of the books that influenced Christina and were mentioned in her interview.


The babes in the wood : a Chief Inspector Wexford mystery / Rendell, Ruth
“With floods threatening both the town of Kingsmarkham and his own home and no end to the rain in sight, Chief Inspector Wexford already has his hands full when he learns that two local teenagers have gone missing along with their sitter, Joanna Troy. Their hysterical mother is convinced that all three have drowned, and as the hours stretch into days Wexford suspects a case of kidnapping, perhaps connected with an unusual sect called the Church of the Good Gospel. But when the sitter’s smashed-up car is found at the bottom of a local quarry-occupied by a battered corpse-the investigation takes on a very different hue. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Overdrive cover End in Tears, Ruth Rendell (Audiobook)
“A lump of concrete dropped deliberately from a little stone bridge over a relatively unfrequented road kills the wrong person. The driver behind is spared. But only for a while… It is impossible for Chief Inspector Wexford not to wonder how terrible it would be to discover that one of his daughters had been murdered. Sylvia has always been a cause for concern. Living alone with her two children, she is pregnant again.  The relationship between father and daughter has always been uneasy. But the current situation also provokes an emotional division between Wexford and his wife, Dora.  (Adapted from Overdrive description)

The secret garden / Burnett, Frances Hodgson
“Born in India, the unattractive and willful Mary Lennox has remained in the care of servants for as long as she can remember. But the girl’s life changes when her mother and father die and she travels to Yorkshire to live with her uncle. Dark, dreary Misselthwaite Manor seems full of mysteries, including a very special garden, locked tight for 10 years. With the help of Dickon, a local boy, Mary intends to uncover its secrets.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Also available as an Audiobook.

Into the void / O’Reilly, Christina
“How easy is it for a man to simply disappear? When rural banker Richard Harper is reported missing, DSS John (Archie) Baldrick and DC Ben Travers are drawn into the tangled details of the man’s life. Would Harper really have chosen to leave his seriously ill wife, and abandon his pregnant girlfriend? Or is there a real threat behind the abusive emails he’d been receiving from desperate clients in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis? Has he really been abducted, tortured or killed? Or is Richard Harper himself behind everything that has happened? Archie and Travers ultimately face a race against time. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Find out more about the Ngaio Marsh Awards by clicking here.

Southern Writers at Te Awe Brandon Library – Tuesday 20 Oct 2020


We are very excited to announce our first ever author event at our fabulous new Te Awe library.

______________________________
20 October 2020
Te Awe Library – 29 Brandon Street
12.30pm to 2pm
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And what a fitting event it is to inaugurate the Te Awe event space, with six fine poets and prose writers giving a very special lunch time reading. All hail from Dunedin or Southland.

They are:

Kay McKenzie Cooke, Richard Langston, Tim Jones, Nick Ascroft, Madison Hamill and Jenny Powell, with Mary McCallum reading some of the late Elizabeth Brooke-Carr’s work.

So why not take this rare opportunity, grab your lunchtime sandwiches or buy one from the Te Awe café, and enliven your lunch listening to some of New Zealand’s finest poets reading from their works. Enjoy.



Kay McKenzie Cooke, her first poetry book, Feeding the Dogs received the Jessie MacKay Best First Book Award for Poetry. Kay is visiting Wellington and will be reading from her new collection Upturned / Cooke, Kay McKenzie

Richard Langston, poet and Country Calendar director, will be reading from his latest collection Five O’Clock Shadows / Langston, Richard


New Sea Land / Jones, Tim
Tim Jones is the winner of the Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best Collected Work and the NZSA Janet Frame Memorial Award for Literature. He will read from his poetry collection New Sea Land and his novella Where We Land.


Moral sloth / Ascroft, Nick
Nick Ascroft.  Born in Oamaru and awarded the Robert Burns Fellowship in 2003, Nick describes himself as an editor by trade, a linguist by training and a competitive Scrabble player by choice. He will be reading from Moral Sloth.

Specimen : personal essays / Hamill, Madison
Debut author Madison Hamill’s writing has appeared in The Spinoff, Sweet Mammalian, The Pantograph Punch, and Turbine Kapohau.  She will be reading from her essay collection, Specimen.


South d poet lorikeet / Powell, Jenny
Jenny Powell is the current RAK Mason Fellow in the Wairarapa and has been a finalist for a number of poetry prizes including the Janet Frame Memorial Award. She will be  reading from her collection South D Poet Lorikeet.


Jenny Powell and Mary McCallum will read poems by the late Elizabeth Brooke-Carr‘s collection Wanting to tell you everything. An award-winning Dunedin poet, Elizabeth died last year and her writing group (that included Jenny Powell and Mary as a consultant) got together to edit her first collection of poems.

This event has been organised by The Cuba Press, Wellington.

Girl from the Tree House : Our Interview with Ngaio Marsh Finalist Gudrun Frerichs

Continuing our series on this year’s Ngaio Marsh Awards shortlist we are delighted to have a video piece from Gudrun Frerichs author of Girl from the Tree House.

Gudrun has a fascinating personal backstory born on a small island near Hamburg she emigrated to New Zealand thirty years ago and worked until her retirement as a psychotherapist she is now a full time writer and describes herself as closet gypsy.

She says that her must have writing aids are a cup of Earl Grey a box of chocolates and the occasional glass of Merlot.

Gudrun’s previous novels include The Golden Girls Romantic Series of Contemporary Women’s novels. About four highly successful friends approaching their golden sixties who live in Auckland.  And the books  join  them as they navigate life’s obstacles.

Girl from the Tree House is a departure from her previous works and revolves around Elizabeth a woman with dissociative identity disorder, who is accused of murder. The novel is set in New Zealand’s West Coast is a fast paced psychological thriller that one reader described as a “superbly written story”.

We want to extend our biggest thank you to Gudrun for her time and insightful video. And we wish her and her fellow shortlisted author’s good luck in the final awards ceremony.

The finalists will be celebrated, and the winners announced, as part of a special event at this year’s WORD Christchurch Festival, held from 29 October to 1 November… Enjoy.

Below are some of the books that influenced Gudrun and were mentioned in her interview.


Pippi Longstocking / Lindgren, Astrid
“Pippi is the only girl in the world who can do exactly what she likes. She is nine years old and lives in a cottage with a horse and a monkey. Her friends Tommy and Annika have to go to school and go to bed when they’re told, but they still have time to join Pippi on all her great adventures.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The world’s best Karlson / Lindgren, Astrid
“Smidge is used to Karlson, the funny little man with a propeller on his back, living on the roof. They are firm friends. Now, anytime Karlson pops in, Smidge knows that there’s fun and adventure in store.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The ABC murders / Christie, Agatha
” There’s a serial killer on the loose. His  macabre calling card he leaves beside each victim’s corpse the ABC Railway Guide open at the name of the town where the murder has taken place. But if A is for Alice Ascher, and B for Betty Bernard, then who will victim C be? Having begun with Andover, Bexhill and then Churston, there seems little chance of the murderer being caught – until he makes the crucial and vain mistake of challenging Hercule Poirot to frustrate his plans… Poirot is the man to find out.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an Audiobook.

Penhallow / Heyer, Georgette
“Hated for his cruel and vicious nature, ruling his family with an iron hand from his sickbed, tyrannical patriarch Adam Penhallow is found murdered the day before his birthday. His entire family had assembled for his birthday celebration, and every one of them had the ways and means to commit the crime. As accusation and suspicion turn in one direction, then another, the claws and backstabbing come out, and no one is exempt from the coming implosion. The death of menacing old man Adam Penhallow, on the eve of his birthday, seems at first to be by natural causes. When it emerges that he was poisoned, there are more than a dozen prime suspects.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.


Find out more about the Ngaio Marsh Awards by clicking here. You can visit Gudrun’s website by clicking here.

The Nancys: Our Interview with Ngaio Marsh Finalist R.W.R. McDonald

This year’s Ngaio Marsh Awards shortlist is full of outstanding New Zealand novels that cover a wide range of styles and tones in stories entwined with crime, mystery, thrills, and suspense. And it is going to be a really difficult task for the judges to pick a winner.

R.W.R. McDonald’s debut novel The Nancys is one of most unique books among the list. Set in South Otago, the book is about friends, family, a murder  and young girl’s obsession with the Nancy Drew series of books. It’s simultaneously funny, dark, touching and ultimately joyously uplifting.

The charismatic author of The Nancys R.W.R. McDonald took some time out of his busy schedule to do a really special online piece for us and talk to us about The Nancys,  his literary influences, and also give us a very special fireside reading–not to mention introducing us to Harry his cat!

We want to extend our biggest thank you to R.W.R. McDonald for his time and such a great interview. And we wish him and his fellow shortlisted authors good luck in the final awards ceremony.

The finalists will be celebrated, and the winners announced, as part of a special event at this year’s WORD Christchurch Festival, held from 29 October to 1 November. Enjoy!

Below are some of the books that influenced R.W.R. McDonald and were mentioned in his interview. You can also borrow a copy of The Nancys here or buy yourself a copy here!

The hidden staircase / Keene, Carolyn
“After receiving a call from her friend Helen Corning, Nancy agrees to help solve a baffling mystery. Helen’s Aunt Rosemary has been living with her mother at the old family mansion, and they have noticed many strange things. They have heard music, thumps and seen eerie shadows on the walls. Could the house be haunted? Will Nancy be able to find  how these mysteries are related?” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an Audiobook.

Kiss kiss / Dahl, Roald
“Contains stories including The Landlady, William and Mary, The Way up to Heaven, Parson’s Pleasures, Mrs Bixby and the Colonel’s Coat, Royal Jelly, Gregory Progy, Genesis and Catastrophe, Edwards the Conqueror, Pig and The Champion of the World.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Charlie and the chocolate factory / Dahl, Roald
“Mr Willy Wonka is the most extraordinary chocolate maker in the world. And do you know who Charlie is? Charlie Bucket is the hero. The other children in this book are nasty little beasts, called- Augustus Gloop- a great big greedy nincompoop; Veruca Salt- a spoiled brat; Violet Beauregarde – a repulsive little gum-chewer; Mike Teavee – a boy who only watches television. Clutching their Golden Tickets, they arrive at Wonka’s chocolate factory…” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an Audiobook. 

To the lighthouse / Woolf, Virginia
“Set on the beautiful Isle of Skye. To the Lighthouse features the serene and maternal Mrs. Ramsay, the tragic yet absurd Mr. Ramsay, and their children and assorted guests who are on holiday on the Isle of Skye. From the seemingly trivial postponement of a visit to a nearby lighthouse, Virginia Woolf constructs a moving examination of the complex tensions and allegiances of family life and the conflicts within a marriage…. the sea encircles the story in a brilliant ebb and flow” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an Audiobook. 

The whale rider / Ihimaera, Witi
“This timeless story tells how the courage of one Maori girl in standing against the tide of tradition enables her tribe to become reconnected with their ancestral life force. As her beloved grandfather, chief of the Maori tribe of Whangara, New Zealand, struggles to lead in difficult times and to find a male successor, young Kahu is developing a mysterious relationship with whales, particularly the ancient bull whale whose legendary rider was their ancestor.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

A Saint from Texas [paperback] / White, Edmund
“Yvette and Yvonne Crawford are twin sisters, born on a humble patch of East Texas prairie but bound for far grander fates. Just as an untold fortune of oil lies beneath their daddy’s land, both girls harbour their own secrets and dreams: ones that will carry them far from Texas and from each other. As the decades unfold, Yvonne will ascend the highest ranks of Parisian society as Yvette gives herself to a lifetime of worship. And yet, even as they remake themselves, the twins find that the bonds of family and the past are unbreakable.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The Margaret Mahy treasury : eleven favourite stories from the marvellous Margaret Mahy. / Mahy, Margaret
“The Margaret Mahy Treasury contains eleven favourite Mahy stories. In this volume you will find such timeless classics as A Lion in the Meadow, The Witch in the Cherry Tree, The Man Whose Mother was a Pirate and many more. These beautifully illustrated stories are childhood essentials. This book contains a CD of Margaret Mahy reading six of her classic stories.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The Nancys / McDonald, R. W. R.
“”Tippy Chan is eleven and lives in a small town in a very quiet part of the world – the place her Uncle Pike escaped from the first chance he got as a teenager. Now Pike is back with his new boyfriend Devon to look after Tippy while her mum’s on a cruise. Tippy is in love with her uncle’s old Nancy Drew books; she wants to be Nancy and solve a real mystery. When her teacher’s body is found beside Riverstone’s only traffic light, Tippy’s moment has arrived.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

Find out more about the Ngaio Marsh Awards here. For R.W.R. McDonald’s official site.

Ockham NZ Book Awards Illustrated Non-Fiction Long List

As well as General Non-Fiction, the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards have a special category for Illustrated Non-Fiction. The 2020 long list for this category, which has just been announced, includes magnificently illustrated books that both inform and entertain.

The Ockham short lists will be announced on 4 March, and the final prize winners will be presented with their awards on 12 May.

Check out the titles in the Illustrated Non-Fiction Award category long list!

Crafting Aotearoa: a cultural history of making in New Zealand and the wider Moana Oceania / Chitham, Karl
“A major new history of craft that spans three centuries of making and thinking in Aotearoa New Zealand and the wider Moana (Pacific). Paying attention to Pākehā, Māori, and island nations of the wider Moana, and old and new migrant makers and their works, this book is a history of craft understood as an idea that shifts and changes over time.” (Adapted from our catalogue)

Protest Tautohetohe: objects of resistance, persistence and defiance / Gibson, Stephanie
“Aotearoa New Zealand has a long legacy of activism. This richly illustrated book brings together over 300 objects made by protestors to proclaim and symbolise their causes and their struggles. From banners to badges, t-shirts to tea towels, posters to photographs, it is a vivid reflection of 250 years of resistance and persistance.” (Catalogue)

Frances Hodgkins: European journeys
“This vivid and revealing book is published alongside a landmark exhibition focused on one of our most internationally recognized artists, Frances Hodgkins. Complete with a rich visual chronology of the artist’s encounters abroad, alongside over one hundred of Hodgkins’ key paintings and drawings, the book is an illuminating journey that moves us from place to place through the writings of a number of distinguished art historians, curators and critics.” (Adapted from our catalogue)

Funny as: the story of New Zealand comedy / Horan, Paul
“On TV, film, and live, New Zealand comedy has never been bigger. Published alongisde a major Television New Zealand documentary series, Funny As is a big, authoritative, funny history of New Zealand’s funny men and women. From capping bands to the Topp Twins, hori humour to Billy T James, Lynn of Tawa to Fred Dagg, New Zealanders have made each other laugh in ways distinctive to our peoples and our culture. In 400 pictures and a text built on deep research and over 100 interviews with comics, this book will be Funny As.” (Catalogue)

We are here: an atlas of Aotearoa / McDowall, Chris
“This compelling mix of charts, graphs, diagrams, maps and illustrations is beautiful, insightful, and enlightening. It helps us make sense of our country, to grasp its scale, diversity and intricacies, and to experience feelings of connection to land, to place, to this time in our history, and to one another. By making data visible, each graphic reveals insights: Who visits us? How many fish are in the sea? How do we hurt ourselves? Where do our cats go to at night?  Essays by some of New Zealand’s best thinkers complete the package.” (Adapted from our catalogue)

Louise Henderson: from life
“This is the first major survey of the life and work of French-born, New Zealand artist Louise Henderson (1902-1994). Featuring work from across Henderson’s seven-decade career, the book and accompanying exhibition trace the development of the artist’s bold and colourful abstract style. Henderson worked alongside other major figures including Rita Angus, John Weeks, Colin McCahon and Milan Mrkusich and was one of the first New Zealand artists to commit herself to an overtly modern style.” (Adapted from our catalogue)

McCahon country / Paton, Justin
“In this landmark book, celebrated writer and curator Justin Paton takes readers on a journey through the landscape of Aotearoa, as the artist loved and painted it. From Otago to Canterbury, Takaka to Taranaki, Muriwai to Northland and many more places in between, Paton brings his curator’s eye to a selection of nearly 200 of McCahon’s paintings and drawings, including iconic and beloved works and others never before published.” (Adapted from our catalogue)

Colin McCahon: there is only one direction. Vol. I 1919-1959 / Simpson, Peter “In the first of a two-volume work chronicling 45 years of painting by New Zealand artist, Colin McCahon, leading McCahon scholar, writer, and curator Peter Simpson chronicles the evolution of McCahon’s work over the artist’s entire career. Each volume includes over 300 colour illustrations, with a selection of reproductions (many never previously published), plus photographs, catalogue covers, facsimiles and other illustrative material.” (Adapted from our catalogue)

The meaning of trees / Vennell, Robert
“This treasure of a book pays homage to New Zealand’s native plant species while telling the story of plants and people in Aotearoa. Beautifully illustrated with botanical drawings, paintings and photographs, it shows us how a globally unique flora has been used for food, medicine, shelter, spirituality and science. From Jurassic giants to botanical oddballs – these are our wonderful native and endemic plants.” (Adapted from our catalogue)


The New Photography: New Zealand’s First-generation Contemporary Photographers / McCredie, Athol
“Athol McCredie is a leading NZ photography curator and in this beautiful book he tells the story of the beginning of contemporary/art photography in Aotearoa. Photographers discussed include Gary Baigent, Max Oettli, and Ans Westra.” (Adapted from Fishpond)

Author Interview: Vogel Award-Winning Kura Carpenter!

The Sir Julius Vogel Awards are New Zealand’s annual celebration of home-grown science fiction and fantasy, with awards covering books, dramatic presentations, fan publications and more. One of the most competitive categories is Best New Talent, and this year’s winner was Dunedin-based author Kura Carpenter!

Kura’s debut novel, The Kingfisher’s Debt, tells the story of Tamsin Fairchild, a translator who must team up with rookie cop Scott Gale to investigate the disappearance of a newborn baby. But this is no ordinary crime: beneath familiar New Zealand locations is a world rich in danger–and magic. Vogel Award judges described The Kingfisher’s Debt as “very cleverly set in an urban fantasy world overlaying (or underlying, depending on your perspective) Dunedin, New Zealand. The writing is crisp, the plot excellently designed and executed.”

We contacted Kura to discuss her writing process, the Vogel Awards and what it’s like to be a fantasy writer in New Zealand. For more on her writing check out her website, and for the full Sir Julius Vogel Awards list, click here. Enjoy!

You’ve described The Kingfisher’s Debt as urban fantasy–a genre combining both fantasy and mystery. How did elements of these two genres complement each other in the shaping of the story?

My story follows a typical mystery structure–crime discovered, investigation, clues revealed, case solved–but the world it’s set in is an alternative New Zealand where magic exists, but most regular people don’t encounter it, in much the same way that you don’t know anything about crime unless it directly touches your life.

The crime in my story is connected to the people who deal in magic, I guess maybe that’s what you mean by shape. The mystery and magic are interconnected. Without the magic, there would be no desire to try and steal it.

Reviews of The Kingfisher’s Debt have praised your descriptions of real-life locations–Dunedin’s midwinter darkness and the “80s kitsch of St Clair”. Were there many challenges in bringing this familiar world to the page?

None. Although I was going for a 90s vibe, so I guess I failed.

There has also been a lot of positive feedback about the characters in The Kingfisher’s Debt–their grittiness, unusualness and dialogue. How did the character of Tamsin–and her excellent first person perspective–come about?

She just popped into my head and I wrote down what she said.

I’m an introvert, I feel awkward meeting people, so I talk to myself all the time, practice conversations, that kind of thing. It’s probably the only benefit of anxiety, all the internal practice improves ones writing ability to capture ‘voice’.

Was it difficult to create a story with both past and present timelines? Was there much planning or re-drafting required with this?

No. I don’t plan, I’m a pantser, an intuitive writer, (which often surprises people who assume I must be a strict outliner). I’m just fortunate to have better than normal intuition for pattern and structure.

I’d come across the zipper-structure (alternating timelines) when reading a novel years ago, and after I’d written my first draft I realised that’s what I’d inadvertently created, it just needed some shuffling of scenes to get the timeline straight and make sure the subtext was as I wanted.

It’s always exciting to have a story that includes a library! You’ve previously worked in Dunedin City Library–what was it that drew you to the library as one of the locations in The Kingfisher’s Debt?

Yes. I’m lazy. It was the easiest thing to do, use locations I’m familiar with.

How do you feel about the fantasy writing scene in New Zealand at the moment? How do you think it might develop in the future, especially with WorldCon taking place in New Zealand next year?

That’s a hard one. On the one hand adult-reading level fantasy has been all but deserted by New Zealand’s traditional publishers, not for lack of talent, but because it’s simply not profitable. Talent wise I think the scene is stronger than it ever was. With the rise of self and indie publishing, has come a lot of opportunity.

While in many fields New Zealand punches above its weight internationally, for example film, sport, and even our P.M. is beloved globally, however when it comes to fantasy writing, we haven’t managed to carve out a spot beyond our borders.

Other New Zealand writers who write realist fiction consider what I write to be commercial and appealing to the masses, but because I’m not writing American or U.K. stories my story is actually non-commercial, it only has local appeal. WorldCon will shine a spotlight on us briefly, but the trouble ultimately remains that we’re a small market for telling our own stories, our own brand of fantasy. If we’re going to develop in the future then we must become leaders and not just followers.

Our latest new New Zealand fiction showcase

In dividing the light, things are seen. And we notice ourselves.”
― John Allison New Zealand poet. 

New Zealand literature is a rich and diverse field one full of many voices and many stories. This range and diversity is well represented in our latest fiction showcase to focus  on new New Zealand fiction releases.

Our latest showcase ranges from the compulsive, tense, nail biting  page turner that is Call me Evie by J.P. Pomare to the more gentle captivating A dream of Italy by Nicky Pellegrino there is also the latest outing from best selling  author Catherine Robertson called What you wish for and Pearly Gates set in and celebrating small town New Zealand by Owen Marshall.  As well as  a veritable  host of  wonderful other voices and stories to be experienced and enjoyed.

Call me Evie / J.P. Pomare
“Meet Evie, a young woman held captive by a man named Jim in the isolated New Zealand beach town of Maketu. Jim says he’s hiding Evie to protect her, that she did something terrible back home in Melbourne. In a house that creaks against the wind, Evie begins to piece together her fractured memories of the events that led her here. Jim says he’s keeping her safe. Evie’s not sure she can trust Jim, but can she trust her own memories?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

A dream of Italy / Nicky Pellegrino.
“The picturesque mountain town of Montenello is selling off some of its historic buildings for just one euro each. To be considered as a future resident of Montenello contact the town’s mayor, Salvio Valentini. Many people read Salvio’s advertisement with excitement. Elise is in her twenties and desperate to get on the property ladder. Edward wants to escape a life he finds stifling. Mimi is divorced and starting afresh. And there is one person whose true motivation won’t be clear for some time. These four people all have a dream of Italy. And it’s going to change their lives.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Julian calendar / William Henry.
“A bright young photojournalist returns to London with the aim of releasing himself from a profound love affair that has stalled without explanation. Instead, he is derailed by memories of the secretive nurse who broke his heart, and rejuvenated by a man whose unexpected and intense friendship challenges the fundamental notion of love itself.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Photos of you / Tammy Robinson.
“People are here for me, to celebrate the anniversary of the day I was given life. On the very same day I’d just been told my life was all but over.’ When Ava Green turns twenty-eight, she discovers this will be her last birthday. The cancer she thought she’d beaten three years ago is back, only this time it’s terminal. But she is not going to let the cancer define her last, precious months, she is going to make her childhood dream come true: her wedding.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWhat you wish for / Catherine Robertson.
“Dr Ashwin Ghadavi, the newly imported GP, is trying hard to fit into Gabriel’s Bay. His challenges include the immovable force of his office manager, Mac, the ambiguities of the Kiwi idiom, and his unrequited attraction to Mac’s daughter, Emma. Having returned home, Emma is determined to help her old friend, Devon, whether he wants it or not. She’s also on a mission to right eco wrongs, and her targets include local farmer Vic Halsworth, who’s already neck deep in the proverbial and, to make matters worse, seems to be having visions of moose.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPearly Gates : a novel / Owen Marshall.
“This entertaining and insightful novel both skewers and celebrates small-town New Zealand. Pat `Pearly’ Gates has achieved a lot in his life and evinces considerable satisfaction in his achievements. He has a reputation as a former Otago rugby player and believes he would have been an All Black but for sporting injuries. He runs a successful real-estate agency in a provincial South Island town, of which he is the second-term mayor. Popular, happily married, well established, he cuts an impressive figure, especially in his own eyes. But will his pride and complacency come before a fall?” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRotoroa / Amy Head.
“On tiny, isolated Rotoroa Island in the Hauraki Gulf is a treatment facility for alcoholic men. It’s here, at the Salvation Army-run home, that three characters at very different points in their lives will find themselves gathered, each for reasons of their own. There is Katherine, known to history as Elsie K. Morton, famous journalist and author; Jim, a sleepless alcoholic sent to the island by his family; and Lorna, a teenage mother who joins the Salvation Army looking for a fresh start. As the stories of their lives are revealed, so too are their hopes and vulnerabilities.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Ice Shelf / Anne Kennedy.
“The Ice Shelf: an eco-comedy” On the eve of flying to Antarctica to take up an arts fellowship, thirty-something Janice, recently separated, has a long night of remembrance, regret and realisation as she goes about the city looking for a friend to take care of her fridge while she’s away. En route she discards section after section of her novel in the spirit of editing until there is nothing left to edit. The Ice Shelf, a novel written as Acknowledgements, is an allegory for the dangers of wasting love and other non-renewable resources.” (Syndetics summary)

Admissions : tales of life, death & love in a hospital not far from here … / Mira Harrison.
“Here are the stories of eight women doctors, nurses, cooks and cleaners at the heart of a hospital that connects them all in a city that could be anywhere. Inspired by Mira Harrison’s experiences in healthcare in the UK and NZ, these engrossing narratives unveil the shifting balance between professional and private worlds. Our scrupulous or haphazard plans are disrupted by falling in love; by our connections to others; by the birth of our children; by loss, grief, and ultimately death.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

NZ Collection: sometimes functional, sometimes beautiful.

We often feature the beautiful coffee table publications that arrive monthly in the New Zealand Collection. So this month at the top of the list (to keep the glossy books company) are a few of the more functional titles that also arrive each month. These are the ones that aid the scholars and the researchers find the piece of information they need for their project, studies or work.

Syndetics book coverThe Auckland University Press anthology of New Zealand literature / edited by Jane Stafford and Mark Williams.
“From Polynesian Mythology to the Yates’ Garden Guide, from Allen Curnow to Alice Tawhai, from Jessie Mackay to Alison Wong, from Julius Vogel to Albert Wendt, from the letters of Wiremu Te Rangikaheke to the notebooks of Katherine Mansfield – Māori, Pākehā, Pasifika, and Asian New Zealanders have struggled for two and a half centuries to work the English language into some sort of truth about this place. The Auckland University Press Anthology of New Zealand Literature brings together for the first time in one volume this country’s major writing, from the earliest records of exploration and encounter to the globalised, multicultural present”. (Publisher information).

Syndetics book coverConstruction law legislation.
This convenient legislation book, Construction Law Legislation is current as at 1 June 2012, and includes the necessary statutory material for your ease of reference in practice or study.

Syndetics book coverCounselling and the law : a New Zealand guide / Robert Ludbrook for the New Zealand Association of Counsellors, Te Rōpū Kaiwhiriwhiri o Aotearoa.
“A comprehensive resource for counsellors that covers all aspects of NZ law that affects counsellors and their clients. It covers: 1) General issues affecting counsellors ; 2) Specialists counsellors ; 3) Employment ; 4) Official agencies: their functions, powers and remedies”–Publisher information.

Syndetics book coverKiwi prefab : cottage to cutting edge : prefabricated housing in New Zealand / Pamela Bell & Mark Southcombe.
“Until recently New Zealanders thought of prefabs as drab, cheap, temporary, poorly designed school classrooms. Prefab houses tended to be thought of as cheap, small, relocatable, standard homes. However, today’s prefab home is design rich, high-quality, and readily customised to individual sites and needs. It is likely to be state of the art, an innovative blend of architecture, design, manufacturing and construction. This book documents and contextualises a history of kiwi prefabrication, our prefab architecture, its present state, some prefab characters and characteristics, and emerging and possible prefab futures”. (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverChristchurch crimes, 1850-75 : scandal & skulduggery in port & town / Geoffrey W. Rice.
“While researching nineteenth-century Christchurch newspapers for another book, historian Geoff Rice was struck by the diversity of crime in early Christchurch, and the amount of detail in the court reports. Fascinated by what he was reading, he became diverted from the task at hand and set about writing this book instead: about crime and punishment in the first 25 years of Canterbury settlement. The stories are drawn from newspaper reports, with further detail added from police records and the court minute books”. (Adapted from back cover).

Syndetics book coverWilliam Colenso : printer, missionary, botanist, explorer, politician : his life and journeys / by A.G. Bagnall and G.C. Petersen ; [edited by Ian St George].
“Colenso, a Church Missionary Society missionary, printer and botanist, established the first printing press in New Zealand and printed the first book, 5000 copies of the New Testament in Māori, in 1837. He also printed the Treaty of Waitangi. His Authentic and genuine history of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi (1890) is regarded as the most reliable European account from the time. Throughout his life, he defended the rights and equality of Māori. Posted to Hawke’s Bay and determined to expand the activities of the mission, Colenso undertook major journeys to reach isolated Māori villages on the east coast of the North Island and inland, including over the Ruahines. An extra-marital relationship brought an end to his career in the church and for a time he became a politician, intensely involved in public life. But science called once more and in his later years much time was given to botanising”. (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDiplomatic ladies : New Zealand’s unsung envoys / Joanna Woods.
“This book tells the inside story of New Zealands diplomatic wives and daughters over a hundred years of diplomacy. Based on private letters, MFAT archives and personal interviews, it records many unknown episodes in New Zealands diplomatic history, including the part played by the spouses in Baghdad during the first Gulf War, and the perils faced by diplomatic wives in Saigon and Tehran. It also gives a unique insight into the workings of diplomatic life and the role of the diplomatic hostess”. (Syndetics summary)

The New Zealand Hobbit crisis : how Warner Bros. bent a government to its will and crushed an attempt to unionize The hobbit / Jonathan Handel ; with Pip Bulbeck.
“All was not well in Middle-earth . . .After the third Lord of the Rings movie premiered in 2003, fans of the series eagerly anticipated production and release of its prequel, The Hobbit. It turned out they had a while to wait, as a series of troubles delayed production for years.Then, in September 2010, when almost everything seemed resolved, U.S. and international actors unions issued a pub-lic alert advising their members “not to accept work on this non-union production.” Warner Bros. threatened to rip the troubled production from the country and events quickly spiraled out of control. New Zealand plunged into crisis. Saving the Hobbit was do or die for the local film industry, and the government scrambled to avoid disaster. Director Peter Jackson vowed to “fight like hell” to keep the shoot in New Zealand. But then studio executives flew in from Los Angeles like colonial masters ready to bring down the hammer. This short book (70 pp. plus bibliography, etc.) tells the tale”.(adapted from Syndetics summary)

What’s new in our NZ Collection

This month the New Zealand Collection features “Mad on Radium” about New Zealand’s engagement with the nuclear world from the start when Lord Rutherford first split the atom. In “Selling the Dream” early N.Z. tourism promotion posters and publicity is explored while “Made in NZ” looks at some of this country’s high achievers. There is also Martin Sneddon’s review of the rugby world cup, a Graig Potton photographic collection, Albert Wendt’s latest and Gareth Morgan’s take on issues facing our far south oceans.

Syndetics book coverSelling the dream : the art of early New Zealand tourism / Peter Alsop, Gary Stewart and Dave Bamford ; foreword by Fran Walsh.
Celebrates the remarkable range of tourism posters and other publicity that helped promote New Zealand – both locally and to the world – until the 1960s, before television and colour photography changed the publicity landscape forever. This imagery is some of the finest graphic art ever produced in New Zealand, and as arresting and impressive today as when it was first created. The art of early tourism was highly significant in New Zealand’s art history, and in the development of New Zealand’s tourism industry and sense of national identity. (Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverNew Zealand / Craig Potton ; [photography, Craig Potton ; introduction, John B. Turner ; poem, Brian Turner].
“Craig Potton rose to prominence as a photographer in the late 1980s, with a distinct and original view of the landscape of Aotearoa/New Zealand. He was a photographer with little interest in a sentimentalised or romantic view of the land, but rather pursued a less compromising and more muscular vision that sought to convey this country’s remarkable landscape in a real light. This book collects together many of his most celebrated images in one place, a body of work that clearly shows why his reputation is so strong.”–Publisher’s description.

Syndetics book coverMade in NZ / Chris Mirams & Ross Land.
“Made in New Zealand is a gorgeous coffee table book which celebrates the ways in which being a New Zealander have shaped some of our most inspirational achievers. Forty successful Kiwis share their perspective on how this country has influenced them and contributed to their success. These captivating stories are accompanied by stunning portrait photography. Award-winning New Zealand photographer Ross Land and award-winning journalist Chris Mirams have approached the full gamut of our society and the book features everyone from Alison Holst to David Kirk; from Professor Margaret Brimble to Jon Toogood and John Minto to Sir Graham Henry”–publisher website.

Syndetics book coverFrom Mānoa to a Ponsonby garden / Albert Wendt.
“In Hawaiʻi Wendt watches the changing shadows of the Koʻolau mountains from his verandah; considers the nature of mauli, the seat of life; walks protected in his partner’s perfumed slipstream to work; and writes to fellow poet Hone Tuwhare from the excesses of Las Vegas. In the second half of the book we move to the garden in Ponsonby in 40 ‘garden’ poems. Includes some of Wendt’s inky, drawn poems about the Sāmoan tsunami or galu afi. A book about ageing and the consideration of death”–Publisher information.

Syndetics book coverA stadium of 4 million / Martin Snedden. The story of New Zealand’s greatest sporting event – and, ultimately – one of its greatest triumphs. Martin Snedden was Rugby World Cup 2011 chief executive and the man tasked with delivering a successful tournament to the IRB and the people of New Zealand. To say that he achieved his goal – including making budget in one of this country’s most difficult years where the devastating effects of the Christchurch earthquake reverberated around the country for months – would be an understatement. RWC 2011 will go down as not only as the ‘best ever’ Cup but, far more importantly, as one of New Zealand’s greatest achievements. One powerful component of this achievement is that the famous All Blacks, in a most dramatic fashion, finally got that damn RWC monkey off their backs and won a trophy. But the much more compelling aspect of this achievement is that, both within and away from that rugby field of dreams , the people of New Zealand united in a way they may never have done before outside of wartime; they put aside the sadness of the previous 12 months and genuinely brought to life their stadium of four million, to provide a wonderful welcome and enduring memories for their 133,000 international RWC visitors. (Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverIce, mice and men : the issues facing our far south / Geoff Simmons and Gareth Morgan with John McCrystal.
Our far south is packed with history and wildlife, and is renowned for its breathtaking and photogenic beauty. But does our appreciation of the region run more than skin deep? Do Kiwis really understand how important the region is and what issues are facing it? In February 2012, Gareth Morgan trapped ten of New Zealand’s top experts on the region in a boat with 40 ordinary Kiwis for a month. Together with Geoff Simmons, he grilled them about the issues facing the region and this book is the result. What they found was startling. Our Far South – that part of New Zealand that extends from Stewart Island almost without interruption to the South Pole – harbours precious wildlife and is the engine room of the world’s oceans and climate. We are blessed to live in this unique part of the world, but we also have a huge responsibility to look after it. This book looks at the three ways we risk inflicting long-term, even permanent harm, on this precious and fragile region. The race to exploit resources has been underway for three centuries, and may be poised to escalate. Pressure from human activity may be threatening biodiversity and even the survival of species. And looming ever larger is the threat of climate change. Damage done to our far south will have profound implications, both for New Zealand and right across the globe.–Cover.

Syndetics book coverMad on radium : New Zealand in the atomic age / Rebecca Priestley.
Although New Zealander Lord Rutherford was the first to split the atom, the country has since been known around the world for its nuclear-free stance. In this engaging and accessible book, an alternative history is revealed of “nuclear New Zealand”—when there was much enthusiasm for nuclear science and technology. From the first users of x-rays and radium in medicine to the plans for a nuclear power station on the Kaipara Harbour, this accountnbsp;uncovers the long and rich history of New Zealanders’ engagement with the nuclear world and the roots of its nuclear-free identity. (Syndetics)

New to the NZ Collection

New to the New Zealand Collection this month you can read some interesting facts about New Zealand in “60 Million Gingernuts, a book of New Zealand records”. “All the Commissioner’s Men” is another look into the New Zealand high profile murder inquiry into the Crewe murders. Also meet three New Zealanders famous for very different reasons, Auckland Politician Sir Dove-Myer Robinson, hunter and artist Stag Spooner and novelist and biographer James McNeish. The last book showcases Taranaki treasures and stories taken from the collections of Puke Ariki.

Syndetics book cover60 million gingernuts : a book of New Zealand records / Peter Janssen.
This book gathers together New Zealand’s most amazing, inspiring and bizarre records. With chapters on nature, history, people, manmade wonders, popular culture, sport, eating and drinking, this extensive book will captivate both young and old, Kiwi and tourist, from quiz teams to high school students. Did you know: New Zealand’s highest bridge is on the railway line from Napier to Gisborne. The bridge crosses the Mohaka River 97 metres above the water; Auckland s Pasifika festival is the country s largest festival with over 200,000 people attending. It is also the largest Pacific festival in the world; New Zealand s most popular biscuit is the Gingernut with Griffin s Gingernuts selling nearly 3 million packets every year. Toffee Pop Originals (2,394,000 packets) and Superwine (2,393,000 packets) are neck and neck for second and third place; New Zealand s coldest temperature was recorded at Ranfurly on 17 July 1903, the thermometer plummeted to a record -25 degrees. The lowest North Island temperature is -13.6 recorded at the Chateau Tongariro. The coldest temperature recorded in the world was -89.6 at Vostok Station in Antarctica in 1983. There are many, many more fascinating records inside this addictive book.(Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAll the commissioner’s men / Chris Birt. The killing of Jeanette and Harvey Crewe at Pukekawa, South Auckland, is indelibly burnt into the memory of anyone resident in New Zealand at that time. Most Kiwis know that an innocent man was arrested and spent almost 10 years in prison for two murders he did not commit The story of Arthur Thomas has been well told. The subsequent condemnation by a Royal Commission of Inquiry of two former detectives is also well documented. What has never been disclosed however is the extent of the malpractice which occurred in that double homicide inquiry. Not even the Thomas Royal Commission got to examine that, for reasons All The Commissioner’s Men explains in great depth. Written by veteran journalist, researcher and author Chris Birt (The Final Chapter – third NZ best seller for three weeks in 2001) this new book reveals, for the first time ever, that more than two detectives were involved n this corrupt investigation, and that key players in that nasty game suppressed crucial witness statements, any one of which would have proved categorically that Arthur Thomas was not the murderer. (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverUrban legend : Sir Dove-Myer Robinson / John Edgar.
“Every Aucklander of a certain age knows that we should have listened to Mayor Robbie back in the 1970s’ – Labour Party MP Phil Twyford. But who was he? And why is he still relevant today? From a working class Jewish boy in Sheffield to long serving Mayor of Auckland (1959-1980), Sir Dove-Myer Robinson’s life followed an unusual path. A slight, bespectacled man whose tiny stature was offset by a booming voice and massive ego, he was a natural political campaigner. Associated with a host of local and national causes, he became Auckland’s most recognisable spokesperson. He joined political causes and challenged convention. He fought for our current waste water treatment process, against French nuclear testing, and an integrated Auckland transport system and city. Though his political career was outstanding and memorable, his personal life was a hot bed of gossip. Four wives, one 20 years his junior, and a very public divorce during one of his terms meant he was never far from the headlines. In this book we look at both his personal life and his outstanding political career, which affected not only the future of Auckland, but the future of New Zealand.” –wheelers.co.nz

Syndetics book coverStag Spooner, wild man from the bush : the story of a New Zealand hunter and artist / Chris Maclean. Stag (Neville) Spooner (1917-1946) was a government deer culler in 1939 and 1940, initially in the Tararuas, and then on the South Island’s West Coast. While his successful career as a culler was cut short by the Second World War, he did leave behind a remarkable legacy from this period, a painted diary of his experiences that he entitled Those Wild Men from the Bush. This diary, which forms the heart of this book, is a fascinating chronicle of the life of a professional hunter, who somewhat unusually, was also an artist. Stag Spooner went on to create another highly individual body of art during the war, a series of decorated envelopes that were sent back to his family and friends. In this book Chris Maclean brings to light Stag’s singular body of artwork, while also telling the story of his adventurous life, which started in the Wairarapa where he developed his love of hunting, progressed into becoming a deer culler, and then saw active service during the Second World War in North Africa and Italy, as part of a Field Ambulance Unit. Soon after his return to New Zealand Stag’s life tragically ended on a hunting trip, alone, in the Fiordland mountains. STAG SPOONER is a unique book that finally recognises the life and world of a remarkable New Zealand hunter and artist. (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTouchstones : memories of people and place / James McNeish.
“A young man leaves home as a deckhand on a Norwegian freighter, to travel the world. He returns to New Zealand changed almost beyond recognition. Along the way he meets nine people who influence his life and help make him the writer he becomes.These include ‘the Mother Courage of the English theatre’, an anti-Mafia reformer in Sicily, a Kanak revolutionary who is assassinated, a rejected cousin and ‘Mr Punch in naval uniform’, the New Zealand poet Denis Glover”–Publisher information.

Syndetics book coverFlashback : tales and treasures of Taranaki / Andrew Moffat.
“Showcasing items from the Puke Ariki collections, Flashback casts fresh light on the heritage of the Taranaki region and its people. Richly illustrated and carefully researched, it debunks the myths, exposes characters, tells little-known tales and gives insights into well-known community treasures, standing testament to the value of Puke Ariki’s heritage collection and its wealth of stories”–Cover.