New books in the library’s NZ collection

How We Met

Come for the quiet reading spaces on the second floor at Central Library and find something interesting amongst these selected new books of the New Zealand collection. This month you can find studies of love and loss, study our kiwi language and our literature, find out how a graffiti project became a monument and find new insights into Pacifica history from Cook to the dawn raids.

Syndetics book coverHow we met : the ways great love begins… / Michèle A’Court.
How We Met is based on a collection of ‘How We Met’ stories – those lovely stories couples love to tell (and we all love to hear) about how they got together – The author’s theory: that these stories of how couples meet – the romantic, absurd, serendipitous, convoluted, scandalous, breath-taking moments of connection – help to weave their lives together. Partly as ‘proof’ that they were meant to begin this couple-journey, and also because in each retelling they go back to those first falling-in-love feelings and rekindle the passion. Michele then tests her theory out on a neuroscientist and a psychologist, and by the end of the book has some useful things to say not only about how great love starts, but how it stays great.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSorrows of a century : interpreting suicide in New Zealand, 1900-2000 / John C. Weaver.
“Focusing on New Zealand because it has the most comprehensive and accessible coroners’ records, Weaver analyzes a staggering amount of information to determine the social and cultural factors that contribute to suicide rates. He examines the country’s investigations into sudden deaths, places them within the context of major events and societal changes, and turns to witnesses’ statements, suicide notes, and medical records to remark on prevention strategies.” (Publisher information)

Syndetics book coverKiwi speak / Justin Brown.
“Do you speak Nu Zild? In Kiwi Speak, bestselling author Justin Brown eavesdrops at the dinner table, the school yard, the farm and the sports club to bring us an entertaining dictionary of phrases and expressions – the often hilarious, sometimes baffling New Zealandisms we use in everyday life.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPoetry and Exile : Letters from New Zealand 1938-1948
“German-Jewish poet Karl Wolfskehl spent the last years of his life, from 1938 to 1948, in Auckland, New Zealand, on the globe’s last island reef, as a refugee from Nazi Germany. The conditions of his life forced him to consider the very nature of human existence, and his letters from New Zealand amount to an intellectual autobiography. During his Auckland years Wolfskehl got to know the formative generation of New Zealand writers:Frank Sargeson, R. A. K. Mason, A. R. D. Fairburn (who dedicated his Poems 1929-1941 to Wolfskehl),Denis Glover and the acolytes of the Caxton Press and, to a lesser degree, Allen Curnow.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Bulford Kiwi : the kiwi we left behind / Colleen Brown.
“Little known story from after WW1, when NZ troops waited months in Sling Camp in southern England after the war ended to get a ship home. Rioting in the camp led to plans to keep troops busy by cutting a giant Kiwi into the chalk hill behind the camp. The Bulford Kiwi has become a monument built by soldiers, not governments, for themselves and their mates. In 2017 the Bulford Kiwi was made a protected heritage site by UK government.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDiscoveries : the voyages of Captain Cook / Nicholas Thomas.
“Cook’s great voyages marked the end of an era in world history. As he sailed into Hawaii in January 1778 he made contact with the last of the human civilizations to grow up independently of the rest of the world. But equally for the Polynesians and Melanesians of the Pacific, Cook’s arrival in their midst merely marked a further (if disastrous) twist in diverse histories already many centuries old. In this immensely enjoyable and absorbing book Cook’s journeys are reimagined, attempting to leave behind (or master) our later preoccupations to let us see what Cook and his associates experienced and what the societies he encountered experienced.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDawn Raids
“Tension is rising in 1970s New Zealand. Muldoon’s government is cracking down on illegal immigration and the notorious dawn raids are ripping Pasifika families from their beds. At the eye of this political storm, everyday New Zealanders like Sione struggle to keep their families united. Fuarosa, the family’s resident overstayer, fights against the chaos to keep hold of her freedom, and Sione’s sister Teresa might be getting in too deep with black rights activists. First staged in 1997, Dawn Raids is just as confronting and relevant now as it has ever been. Oscar Kightley pulls no punches and brings the play to life with his trademark hilarity and wit.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSeek and destroy : the history of 3 Squadron RNZAF / Paul Harrison.
“In 2015 No.3 Squadron Royal New Zealand Air Force celebrated 50 years of continuous helicopter operations since it reformed in August 1965. Seek and Destroy is the official history of the machines and personnel that make up the colourful and wide-ranging operations of this unique squadron, which was first formed in 1930 and whose aircraft and personnel have seen service all around the world from the UK to Asia, the Pacific and the Antarctic. This illustrated hardback brings together anecdotal stories of the operations and exercises conducted during the past 50 years, including numerous civil defence and peacekeeping activities.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe New Zealand Wars / Philippa Werry.
“The story of the 19th century New Zealand Wars, a part of New Zealand’s history that many people wish they knew more about. The book describes how the wars came about, where and when they were fought, who was involved, and how they affected women and children. It explains the emergence of Kīngitanga or Māori King movement, the land confiscations and the story of Parihaka. The story is told in an accessible way full of fascinating detail, eye-witness accounts, illustrations and little known facts, with lists of websites, resources and books for those who want to discover more.” (Publisher description)

Syndetics book coverTowards democratic renewal : ideas for constitutional change in New Zealand / Geoffrey Palmer and Andrew Butler, with assistance from Scarlet Roberts.
“In 2016, Sir Geoffrey Palmer and Andrew Butler proposed and published a written, codified constitution for Aotearoa New Zealand. Since then the authors have travelled the country, discussing with the public the nature of New Zealand’s identity and where the country is headed. This clear, revised constitution defines and entrenches government accountability and transparency, protects the rights of our peoples and tangata whenua, and offers transformative steps to uphold the sovereignty and integrity of Aotearoa New Zealand.” (Publisher information)

Meet the NZ Post Winners on 28 August at Central Library

Fresh from the awards ceremony the night before, the winning authors from the New Zealand Post Book Awards come together on 28 August at Central Library to discuss NZ-Post-Awardsstheir books, love of writing, new projects, inspirations and challenges and the books currently on their own ‘must-read’ lists at this free event.

Featuring the winners of these awards:

  • 2014 New Zealand Post Book of the Year
  • Fiction
  • Poetry
  • General Non-Fiction
  • Illustrated Non-Fiction
  • People’s Choice

Audience questions will follow, and the winning books will be available for purchase from a Unity Books stand. The authors will be signing copies at the event.

Visit for more information about this event. Full updates on the awards can be found on the New Zealand Post Book Awards’s Facebook page and via @BooksellersNZ on Twitter.

Thursday 28 August
12.15pm – 1.15pm
Wellington Central Library, Ground Floor, 65 Victoria St



World Day for Audiovisual Heritage: 27 October

Film ReelIt’s World Audiovisual Heritage day today, so we thought we’d spotlight a few pages over on The New Zealand Film Archive‘s website, and on a few other sites that are helping preserve and popularise our own history of the moving image:

  • The First Picture Show: New Zealand Film History Gets Moving

    This is a quick documentary snippet of soldiers departing Wellington for the Boer War in 1900, and these pages are the story of its discovery, identification, and restoration and preservation. You can also watch the film online – there’s a (slightly obscured) link in the right-hand sidebar. Here’s how the Film Archive describe this film:

    The Departure of the Second Contingent for the Boer War is the oldest New Zealand film in the Film Archive’s collection. It depicts a parade of young New Zealand soldiers on the eve of their departure to fight alongside their British countrymen in the South African Boer War. The fact that such an event was recorded at the time is remarkable enough, but the story of how the fragile footage survived, was identified and lovingly restored by the Film Archive’s team of conservators and historians is testament to the important role that film plays in defining our culture and heritage.

  • New Zealand’s Missing Film History

    This page on the Film Archive website describes some (known) missing titles and what they were about – e.g. Hinemoa from 1914 was “The first big dramatic work filmed and acted in the land of the Moa”! (The page also has contact details if you know anything about what happened to the reels of these films after they were shown)

  • AV Heritage : Tips for storing your film collection at home

    This page is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: tips for storing your film collection at home. Protip: *always* hang on the original, even if you’ve made a DVD copy for backup.

  • NZ On Screen

    This is a NZ On Air project launched in 2007 which has all kinds of amazing New Zealand film and TV snippets available to view online — it’s really amazing what you can access.

    Look! It’s Kimbra before she was famous on What Now?:

    What Now? - Kimbra excerpt

    Or watch an episode of 1981’s Under the Mountain:

    Under the Mountain - The Alien World Below

NZ music reviews to end NZ Music Month

Sadly, it’s the end of New Zealand Music Month !  We have been collecting up a few reviews from staff – here are some from John, one of our librarians:

ghostplaneGhostplane – Beneath the Sleepy Lagoon: ‘Southern gothic’ was a genre name coined especially to describe the sound of Wellington’s Ghostplane. They only made this album and one EP in their short career but left a highly distinctive memento. A dark, moody ambience, punctuated by searing guitar lines, pervades these lovely textured songs that carry a NZ flavour not often explored. In their own idiosyncratic way, this band rock.

Mestar – Shut the Squizwot Factories Down: In a more just world John White would be ultra famous. His Mestar project carries the original classic Dunedin indie guitar sound into the future. Huge fuzzy guitars under his distinctively twee sweet vocals create songs that represent the pop music of an imagined parallel Earth.

Sola Rosa – Get It Together / Get It Together Remixes: Starting out as a solo laptop artist, Andrew Spraggon has unrelentingly pursued his musical vision to finally emerge at the helm of a large band of fine musicians, and this record represents the pinnacle expression of his vision so far. It is a record that includes a variety of influences – dub, lounge, jazz and soul – and the inclusion of international vocalists such as Bajka and remixers such as DJ Vadim herald a truly international sound.

The Haints of Dean Hall – The Haints of Dean Hall: A record of haunting post modern lullabies and possibly one of the gentlest records I have ever heard. This trans-Tasman duo create an ambience with electric guitar and vocals so sweet and gentle that it is hardly there at all, yet listen carefully and these are lovingly crafted songs about love, sorrow and experience. “They are trying to recall something but it is like passing shadowy figures in a hallway”.

The Bats – The Guilty Office: When a band can release an album 20 years into their career that matches or even tops anything else in their back catalogue then you know there is something very special going on. In 2008, The Bats very quietly released this record that was like a reminder to indie kids the world over just what ‘indie’ truly means. Great songs, slacker grooves, elegant understated guitar and laconic yet heartfelt vocals – The Bats – a national treasure!

NZ Music Month – young artists play free gigs this week in our libraries

As previously mentioned, up-and-coming young artists are performing free afternoon gigs at Wellington Central Library and at the Ruth Gotlieb (Kilbirnie), Newtown, Johnsonville and Karori branch libraries this week, from 4PM to 5PM.

Here’s the roster of performers for each event:

Ruth Gotlieb (Kilbirnie) : Monday 16 May 2011
Te Aihe Butler, Harriet Emily Hill, Lukas Jury

Newtown, Tuesday 17 May:
Alexi Cartwright, Lukas Jury & Harriet Emily Hill

Johnsonville: Wednesday 18 May:
Alexi Cartwright, Max Apse, Harriet Emily Hill

Karori: Thursday 19 May (4-5pm):
Ash Graham, Te Aihe Butler, Roman Birch

Central Library: Friday 20 May:
Ash Graham, Alexi Cartwright, Max Apse

Find out more about the performers on Toi Poneke’s Facebook pages:

Alexi Cartwright, Max Apse, Harriet Emily Hill, Lukas Jury, Te Aihe Butler, Roman Birch, Ash Graham

Hope to see you there!


Like to read about things that drink petrol and live in the garage?

Or about things that go really fast? How about engineering ingenuity in New Zealand? Here are a few titles for you:

Syndetics book coverKim : the Kiwi on the konig / by Tim Hanna.
This recommendation came from my father, who is always taking bits of car apart or putting them back together again, and who definitely considers cars and motorbikes to be mechanical members of the family. He reviewed this book very enthusiastically, and although it does have a very sad ending (see here for more information about Kim Newcombe), he very much enjoyed it and I think also enjoyed discovering an aspect of Kiwi motoring history he’d previously been unaware of. Some backstory (as understood by me, the non-mechanical family member): Kim Newcombe developed a 500cc motorbike called the Konig using a two-stroke outboard motor – so actually a boat engine. This was during the 60’s when hydroplane (a type of very fast motorboat) racing was very big. There’s a lot more to the story – and from all accounts it’s an amazing story – but I’ll let you read the book and enjoy discovering it for yourself.

Syndetics book coverJohn Britten / Tim Hanna.
A biography of John Britten, a Motorcyclist of the Millennium (he placed fourth equal with the founders of Harley Davidson in a popular motorcylcing magazine poll). Here was another New Zealand innovator who took the world by storm and a dyslexic whose genius for design and mechanical engineering won him a place on The New Zealand Edge’s list of design heroes, as a “Maverick Genius of Motorcycle Design”. Incredibly, he designed and built the V1000 bike in his spare time. Another story with a very premature ending, but a lot of inspirational content.

Syndetics book coverOne good run : the legend of Burt Munro / Tim Hanna.
Seen the movie? Follow it up with this biography of Burt Munro by Tim Hanna. Amazon has this to say of this title:
“Here is the amazing story of Kiwi motorcycling legend, backyard engineering genius, and land speed record holder Burt Munro. Munro was the archetypal eccentric inventor. He took an original Indian motorbike and modified it in his shed so it became capable of extreme speeds. From small town New Zealand in the 1920s to heroic accomplishments in the USA, Munro was still inventing up until his death in 1978. This is very much a “little guy beats the odds” story-Munro still holds several records in the US-as a mark of respect, the category he raced in was “frozen” for all time.” (The release of this biography was originally timed to coincide with the movie release.)

I like the phrase ‘backyard engineering genius’ – it sums up all three of these titles nicely! Enjoy.