Tīhema Baker in Conversation

One of the most acclaimed and talked about novels of this year is Turncoat by Tīhema Baker. Turncoat is a book that takes a close look at some of the effects of colonisation, using the lens of satire and science fiction. The book deals with some really big issues but does so in a thoughtful and thoroughly entertaining and funny way .

Turncoat explores what it feels like to be colonised in a distant future, when aliens called the Noor have colonised Earth and the entire human race is struggling to have their voices heard and rights upheld. Much of human culture and society has been replaced by Noor culture, society and language.

The novel’s central protagonist, Daniel, is a young man working inside the bureaucracy of the alien colonisers who wants to ensure the Covenant of Wellington, the document signed in the “birthplace of modern Earth”, is honoured, but he finds the task challenging.

Tīhema uses his own experience as a Māori public servant to inform much of the storyline.

Turncoat holds a satirical mirror up to Pākehā New Zealanders and asks the question : “What if it happened to you?”

The novel is a wonderful concoction of moving, funny, tragic and disturbing and very prescient in a political and social fashion.

Tīhema Baker (Raukawa te Au ki te Tonga, Ātiawa ki Whakarongotai, and Ngāti Toa Rangatira) is a writer and Tiriti o Waitangi-based policy advisor from Ōtaki. He has a Master of Arts in Creative Writing from the International Institute of Modern Letters at Victoria University of Wellington, for which he wrote this novel.

We were thrilled when Tīhema took time out from his very busy schedule to discuss Turncoat and we wish to extend our heartfelt thanks to him. For more information visit  Lawrence & Gibson.

This interview was done in conjunction with Caffeine and Aspirin, the arts and entertainment review show on Radioactive FM. You can hear the interview and borrow Turncoat by following the links below.

Turncoat / Baker, Tīhema
“Daniel is a young, idealistic Human determined to make a difference for his people. He lives in a distant future in which Earth has been colonised by aliens. His mission: infiltrate the Alien government called the Hierarch and push for it to honour the infamous Covenant of Wellington, the founding agreement between the Hierarch and Humans. With compassion and insight, Turncoat explores the trauma of Māori public servants and the deeply conflicted role they are expected to fill within the machinery of government. From casual racism to co-governance, Treaty settlements to tino rangatiratanga, Turncoat is a timely critique of the Aotearoa zeitgeist, holding a mirror up to Pakeha New Zealanders and asking: “What if it happened to you?” ( Adapted from Catalogue) We also have a Book Club kete of this title if your book club fancies reading this.


CDs From The Vault: Progressive Rock Special

Join us on this latest CDs from the Vault podcast episode as Wellington City Librarians Patrick, Sam & Neil dive into the illustrious history of progressive rock. From its rise to popularity in the early 1970’s through various evolutions and iterations in subsequent decades, progressive rock is an enigmatic and varied musical genre that continues to capture the hearts and minds of many music lovers globally. In this episode, we focus on three classic albums from different time periods to showcase how it has developed over time.

Listen to the podcast here:

These albums (along with tens of thousands of others) are currently available to be borrowed for free by reserving them from our catalogue to be sent from our Te Pātaka storage space to a Wellington City Libraries branch of your choice.

Close to the edge / Yes

Released on the 13th of September 1972, Close to the Edge, Yes’s fifth studio album, is widely regarded as one of the seminal albums of the progressive rock genre. The band at that time were experiencing a significant tailwind in the form of the success of 1971’s Fragile which featured their biggest hit to date, ‘Roundabout’. Lead singer Jon Anderson had for some time been envisioning a ‘long-form’ approach to composition which was previously hinted at. His song writing partnership with guitarist Steve Howe was now beginning to blossom and together they were sowing the seeds of a fully realised ‘concept album’ – which would take the listener on a journey from start to finish. It has all the hallmarks of the golden age of progressive rock – characteristics which have been lauded and lambasted by critics ever since.

Continue reading “CDs From The Vault: Progressive Rock Special”

Books From The Vault: Episode 6


Welcome to our latest exciting and scintillating episode of Books from the Vault, to be found on Wellington City Libraries’ very own podcast channel called Kōtare: Wellington City Libraries Presents. Books from the Vault is a in which three intrepid librarian explorers take an in-depth and fascinating look at some of the treasure trove of titles to be found in our stacks.

Listen now! Books from the Vault: Episode 6

They dive deep into the vaults and unearth some wonderfully diverse books. After a brief description, they go on to talk vividly about the wider aspects of these works and, as an added bonus, discuss a range of linked and associated titles. This latest instalment is a children’s special.

In this episode, one of our CYA Specialists Mary Barnett selects Box by Penelope Todd; a young adult dystopian fantasy book set in Dunedin. Next, Zoë Miller, our Ethnic Communities Engagement Specialist, talks about Emeli Sione’s A New Dawn – a children’s book about the dawn raids of the 1970s and their effects on the community and individuals.

And finally, our Fiction Specialist Neil Johnstone talks about one of his favourite old-time books, The Children of Green Knowe by Lucy M Boston. First published in 1954, this is a classic English children’s book with elements of English folk mythology and ghosts, which is also heavily laden with historical detail. Intrigued? You can listen to the full episode here.

To subscribe, you can find all our podcasts on your favourite podcast player, including Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Stitcher.

Box / Todd, Penelope
“Derik is on the run. Not from the deadly epidemics on the rise in New Zealand but from the ruling government and its efforts to wipe out disease. The authorities have begun Endorsement: a nation-wide drive to implant a device in every citizen, to regulate body chemistry and control emotions. It’s a social experiment the whole world is watching. But Derik wants to think and feel, for himself. Trying to find shelter, he soon discovers he’s not the only one to have turned fugitive.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

A new dawn / Sione, Emeli
“Emeli Stone shares her Dawn Raid story to help us understand the real impact of this dark time in our history.” (Adapted from Catalogue)




The children of Green Knowe / Boston, L. M.
“It is a classic of its genre a Children’s book that is basically an  English  folk, ghost story that is also heavily laden with historical detail . It is really atmospheric the start is truly a fabulous bit of writing . At times it can be a bit scary and creepy but in a friendly way. An excellent gentle introduction to ghost stories.’ ( Adapted from Catalogue)


Continue reading “Books From The Vault: Episode 6”

‘Kōtare: Wellington City Libraries Presents’: our podcast channel

We have very exciting news! Wellington City Libraries has launched its own podcast channel called

Kōtare: Wellington City Libraries Presents 

In the very first episode of our new monthly series called Books from the Vault, we explore some of the treasures in our various collections. Our intrepid Library Specialists have dug deep into the vaults of our storage facility, Te Pātaka, and brought out a catalogue item that’s meaningful to them and then discussed it with our Fiction Specialist, Neil Johnstone.

In episode one, our Māori Specialist Ann Reweti discusses Rachael Selby’s Still Being Punished and the ongoing trauma of Māori speaking their own language. Children’s Specialist Joseph Robinson looks at the romanticised paintings of Peter McIntyre’s collection and how these works reflect a particular view of Aotearoa at the time of their creation.  Finally, Music Specialist Reece Davies has yet to prove he can read, and instead pulls an antique CD from the stacks, to elaborate on the influence and atmosphere of the post-metal band Isis‘s watery magnum opus, ‘Oceanic’.

Intrigued? You can listen to the full episode one here – or for a wee taster, press play on the embedded player below.

To subscribe, you can find all our podcasts on your favourite podcast player, including Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Stitcher.

Here are the titles mentioned from our collections, to reserve and borrow:

Still being punished / Selby, Rachael
“The stories collected here are told by Māori men and women who were physically disciplined at school for speaking the Māori language. A hugely important book about the ongoing trauma of Māori for speaking in their own language” (Adapted from Catalogue)



Kakahi New Zealand / McIntyre, Peter
“Peter McIntyre’s romanticised paintings of Aotearoa reflect a particular artistic vision and view of Aotearoa  that reflects particular aspects of the time of their creation.” (Adapted from Catalogue)


Oceanic / Isis
“Post-metal band Isis’s watery magnum opus, ‘Oceanic’ met with a muted response on its release but went on to influence a whole generation of bands .” (Adapted from Catalogue)


Books from the Vault: Episode 8 DRAFT WAITING FOR AUDIO

Welcome to our latest exciting and scintillating episode of Books from the Vault, to be found on Wellington City Libraries’ very own podcast channel called Kōtare: Wellington City Libraries presents. Books from the Vault is a show in which three intrepid librarian explorers take an in-depth and look at the treasure trove of titles found in our stacks.


They dive deep into the vaults and unearth some wonderfully diverse books. After a brief description, they go on to talk vividly about the wider aspects of these works and, as an added bonus, discuss a range of linked and associated titles.

This latest instalment is a wide-ranging forage, in which one of our CYA Specialists, Mary Barnett, selects the fabulous Amphigorey also by American Gothic cartoonist, Edward Gorey. Next, Zoë Miller, our Ethnic Communities Engagement Specialist, talks about Ethnicity: celebrating Wellington’s cultural diversity. This is a nonfiction book compiled over the course of 52 weeks, using stories originally published in former Evening Post and then The Dominion Post, which feature different ethnic groups living in the Wellington region. The stories bring new ideas and a refreshing diversity, as well as including traditional recipes from each featured group. Finally, our Fiction Specialist Neil Johnstone talks about The Hearing Trumpet by Leonora Carrington. First published in 1974, this adult surrealist fantasy novel sadly was for many years was largely forgotten but there has been a huge reappraisal of Leonora Carrington’s work in the last couple of decades. The Hearing Trumpet has subsequently become regarded as a classic of fantasy and surreal writing.

To subscribe, you can find all our podcasts on your favourite podcast player.

Amphigorey also / Gorey, Edward
“An anthology of verse of nonsensical verse and macabre illustrations from Tony Award-winning storyteller Edward Gorey.” (Catalogue)




Ethnicity : celebrating Wellington’s cultural diversity
“”Over 52 weeks the former Evening Post and then The Dominion Post featured a different ethnic group living in the Wellington region. Their stories collated in this book are often intensely personal experiences of loss and hope, of a yearning for former lives and memories and of dreams of new lives and opportunities in a tiny, remote land at the bottom of the world” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The hearing trumpet / Carrington, Leonora
“The Hearing Trumpet is the story of 92-year-old Marian Leatherby, who is given the gift of a hearing trumpet only to discover that what her family is saying is that she is to be committed to an institution. But this is an institution where the buildings are shaped like birthday cakes and igloos, where the Winking Abbess and the Queen Bee reign, and where the gateway to the underworld is open. It is also the scene of a mysterious murder. Occult twin to Alice in Wonderland, The Hearing Trumpet is a classic of fantastic literature that has been translated and celebrated throughout the world.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

WCL podcast: The best albums of 2022


Statler: Well, it was good.
Waldorf: Ah, it was very bad.
Statler: Well, it was average.
Waldorf: Ah, it was in the middle there.
Statler: Ah, it wasn’t that great.
Waldorf: I kind of liked it.”
-‘The Muppet Show’.

I’m Mark, the Music & Film Specialist at Wellington City Libraries. Every month this year my colleague Neil and I reviewed some new material that we purchased for the Music collection at our CBD Te Awe library. This podcast is an roundup of some the albums we enjoyed listening to the most over the course of the year. Some of these titles will no doubt feature on various Best of 2022 lists, but others are just albums that struck us as being unique and interesting.

Below are the lists of our Top 10 picks for 2022 that we discuss on the podcast. Along with a some titles from each of us that didn’t quite make the cut, but came close! You can click on the image links from our ‘Top Ten’ to reserve any of these items from the catalogue.

Mark’s Picks:

Goodbye to Love by Claudia ThompsonSgt Culpepper by Joel CulpepperOld friend : the deluxe collection (1976-1998) by Phyllis Hyman

Wet Leg, by Wet Leg

The Slam! years (1983-1988), by Hamid El Shaeri

What dreams may come by Louisa Williamson

Oghneya by Ferkat Al Ard

Thee Sacred Souls, by Sacred Souls

Autofiction, by Suede

Vulture Prince, by Arooj Aftab

Neil’s Picks:

How is it that I should look at the stars, by Weather StationVital, by Big BraveKingmaker, by Tami Neilson

Rhythm revolution, by Ferry Djimmy

American Epic

A light for attracting attention, by The Smile

Electricity, by Ibibio Sound Machine

Midnight Rocker by Andy Horace

Recordings from the Åland Islands, by Jeremiah Chiu

The unfolding, by Hannah Peel

Some titles that came close to our ‘Top Ten’:

Space 1.8. / Sinephro, Nala
Mark: Space is the place on this debut album from Caribbean-Belgian, London-based, Jazz composer/harpist Nala Sinephro. Gathering some of the new stars of the UK Jazz scene (including Nubya Garcia), she has created an ambient Jazz classic. Pedal harp, modular synths, and saxophones combine in a swirl of liquid soundscapes to form warm meditative pieces. Like the soundtrack to a journey through the cosmos, or through’s one’s own mind. Deeply relaxing.
Neil: Nala Sinephro uses and blurs the use of acoustic and electronic elements in this ambient cosmic Jazz piece. It is an intimate, mellow, and very relaxing work; yet never dull, more a transfixing lure of sound. It feels like a new movement has begun with albums like this and Promises, the album by Floating Points and Pharoah Sanders in its fold.

Sun’s Signature / Sun’s Signature
Mark: ‘Sun’s Signature’ are Elizabeth Fraser & Damon Reece, and while Fraser has provided guest vocals to numerous tracks over the years, this EP represents the first real release from the ex-Cocteau Twins singer since a 2009 single. More accessible than even late period Cocteau Twins her vocals, once buried in a sonic swirl, cascade down like the warmth of the sun itself. Drawing inspiration from nature, these 5 sensual tracks are as beguiling and uplifting as you would expect from someone who was once described as ‘…the voice of God’. As close as music comes to a religious experience…
Neil: It’s been a long time since the Cocteau Twins split over quarter of a century ago. If you are unfamiliar with their work, they almost single-handedly created the genre of dream pop, and are commonly regarded as one of the UK’s most important bands of all time. Since then their singer, the incomparable Elizabeth Fraser’s, irregular one of guest appearances on albums have often been spectacular, take for example Teardrop on Massive attack’s 1998 album Mezzanine. However, it could be said that her solo work has been rare much more patchy and largely unfocused, however ‘Sun’s Signature’ is a 30 minute EP that is a spectacular return. Elizabeth’s always sublime voice is there and showcased to perfection, and as it has matured it has gained a warmth and humanity. The lyrics show this marked difference too. For a start you can understand and relate to them in a way the ethereal and celestial wordless words of most Cocteau Twins lyrics don’t – one critic once described them as ‘lost in beauty’. It’s also a dense and rich musical production, reportedly ten years in the making and enhanced by the distinctive fingerprint production of Damon Reece. Welcome back.

Strange mornings in the garden / Loyal Seas
Mark: ‘Strange Mornings in the Garden’ is the debut album from The Loyal Seas, which is a collaboration between Tanya Donelly (Throwing Muses, The Breeders, Belly) and Brian Sullivan (Dylan in the Movies). They both get a chance to shine on individual tracks, but the best moments are when they combine their vocals, as their vocal tones and sparkling harmonies meld perfectly together (his a low register growl, hers the sound of sweet honey). Shimmering, lush, indie folk-pop that mixes a big heartland rock, orchestral elements, washed of synths and reverb laden guitars. A refreshingly original album that moves from sweeping ballads to tightly-knit, kinetic pop-rock.
Neil: Tanya Donelly and Brian Sullivan have been friends and worked together for nearly thirty years, and these decades of friendship show in the easy and relaxed nature of this album. ‘Strange mornings in the garden’ is a glittering, shimmering, gorgeous melodic indie pop work very much its own thing, but it reminded me in places of the more mellow works of bands like The Beach Boys or The Byrd’s. There is definitely an uplifting summery vibe to the poetic lyrics and radiant supporting music. I liked this release a lot.

Targala, la maison qui n’en est pas une. / Parrenin, Emmanuelle
Mark: 73 year old Emmanuelle Parrenin is a cult French musician whose debut solo album came out in 1977. A singer, harpist & hurdy-gurdy player she began in the traditional folk genre, but her strange life & musical journey has taken her through punk, techno and the avant-garde. Parrenin spent her first period of lockdown on the edge of the desert in Morocco, having been invited there to play a festival, and this album is a kind of psych-folk meander of ambient harp, dulcimer, synths, guitars, percussion & saxophones, creating an atmosphere that has the feel of a shimmering desert dream. The most unique & original music is being made on the fringes like this, and you won’t find a more interesting or haunting ambient album than this.

Patina / Tallies (Musical group)
Mark: More dream pop with this Canadian Quartet, fronted by singer Sarah Cogan, whose ambition seems to be a note perfect recreation of that early 90s 4AD alternative-pop sound. Their 2019 debut was supposedly such a perfect amalgamation of that Lush/Sundays/Cocteau Twins sound, that it came to the attention of ex-Cocteau Simon Raymonde’s Bella Union label – who snapped them up for this, their follow up release. Shimmery, jangly guitars, shoegaze, sweet ethereal vocals drenched in reverb, it’s all there on this album, but with enough variation on each track to keep things interesting. Dream pop has become one of the most watered down genres of recent times, and while Tallies just seem like another band mining those same influences, they are just so good at it, that it’s like hearing it for the first time all over again. Recommended.

I love you Jennifer B / Jockstrap
Mark: Jockstrap are a London experimental pop duo, Georgia Ellery and Taylor Skye, both graduates of the prestigious Guildhall School of Music & Drama, and ‘I love you Jennifer B’ is their debut full-length following 2 EPs in 2018 & 2020. This really is something completely different, a bonkers deconstructionist melange of elements of chamber pop, electronic beats, introverted cabaret, Jazz, Punk-pop, and Baroque chamber folk based around an 18-piece orchestra & Ellery’s remarkable vocal facility. Full of tonal shifts, chaotic song structures, and eccentric character sketches, all immaculately produced. One the most original albums of 2022.

KiCk i. / Arca
Neil: Hyperpop is perhaps the most uniquely 21st century of musical forms, its origins can be traced to around 2010, and the work of artists such as Sophie and A.G. Cook. ‘Kick I’ is very much a maximalist hyperpop album in that genres mould, and features a glittering array of guest artists such as Shygirl, Björk and Sophie (recorded before their tragic death). If you are unfamiliar with the genre, it’s comprised of high energy, heavily layered, genre jumping, experimental sounds, mashed together into dancefloor tracks. Arca really embraces the joy in this and who they as a person. The album revels in the in-between spaces present in genres, languages, and genders, and is a bold experimental and radical dancefloor album that is genuinely exciting to listen to.

Found light / Veirs, Laura
Neil: ‘Found light’ is a mysterious haunting album, like a collection of ancient and modern folklore song tales and poems set to beautiful music. There is sparse instrumentation here, but the core of the work is Laura’s expressive voice and crystal bright shimmering guitar. It sounds like an artist exploring a vibrant dream, an exploration of passing seasons and weather, fleeting colours and senses, tastes slowly dissolving on the tongue, moments of time that gradually move on and fade. In its own very gentle way, I found the album riveting.

Drive my car : original soundtrack. / Ishabashi, Eiko
Neil: A cool smooth and nuanced film soundtrack. The film which it accompanies explores acceptance betrayal and grief and is an adaptation of a Haruki Murakami short story. In many circles the movie has been heralded as a masterpiece, and the music soundtrack perfectly mirrors the highly reflective nature of the film.