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Changing times, David Grant

>The New Zealand Labour Party 1916–2016
Peter Franks and Jim McAloon
Victoria University Press, $50.00,
ISBN 9781776560745

Researching a history of conservative political parties in New Zealand would be relatively straight-forward. The Reform/National Parties have, from their early beginnings to the present day, varied little ideologically – from centrist, to centre-right, to right – leaving the “far-right” tag essentially to those on that fringe, such as the Democrats in the 1930s, and ACT in more recent years. The same cannot be said of the New Zealand Labour Party, which veered from doctrinaire socialism under its first leader Harry Holland to, at the other extreme, unabashed neo-liberalism under David Lange (but led essentially by Roger Douglas) in the mid-to-late 1980s.

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Posted in History, Non-fiction, Politics & Law and Review

Revisiting the 1930s, Tony Simpson

The Broken Decade: Prosperity, Depression and Recovery in New Zealand 1928–1939
Malcolm McKinnon
Otago University Press, $50.00,
ISBN 9781927322260

In 1968, I left my home town of Christchurch and came to Wellington to work as a producer in radio in what was then the NZBC. I mostly spent the next three years writing and producing talks and historical radio documentaries. One thing that struck me as curious in retrospect was that, although I had spent six years at Canterbury University studying history (among other things), no-one had ever mentioned the 1930s Depression or WWII. It was only when I began talking to older New Zealanders that these two sets of events came into focus as the principal markers by which they measured the significance of their own lives. I therefore began collecting both written and oral recollections of the 1930s (mostly the latter); in 1974, these were published as The Sugarbag Years. I then waited for someone to follow my lead and publish a narrative history of the same events which placed the lives I had recorded in their economic and political context, but no-one did and so I did it myself, as The Slump in 1990. This second book made little impact, the world moved on, and those with personal experience of the 1930s have now almost all passed away.

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Posted in History, Non-fiction, Review and Sociology

Town and country, Simon Upton

The Big Smoke: New Zealand Cities 1840-1920
Ben Schrader
Bridget Williams Books, $60.00,
ISBN 9780947492434

I live in a very large city – Paris. It is a melting-pot of anonymity, dynamic and dangerous. There are futuristic experiments in eco-design and saturated motorways; new season glitz on the cat-walks and terrorist attacks. The Bataclan attacks started just five minutes from my apartment. It is all very exciting. But I am not a city person.

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New Zealand’s bloodiest campaign, Steven Loveridge

New Zealand’s Western Front Campaign
Ian McGibbon
Bateman, $80.00,
ISBN 9781869539269

Efforts to explain and/or convey WWI’s Western Front have endured for a century. Libraries could be stocked with military histories investigating the operation of armies, the performance of commanders and the fortunes (often the misfortunes) of this critical centre of the war. Social and cultural studies contemplating subjects ranging from soldiers’ experiences, interpretations rendered in memoirs and monuments, and the wider legacies etched on belligerent societies, have flourished as avenues of inquiry. Popular cultural representations have likewise worked in establishing and transmitting a sense of the subject – the humour within Blackadder’s irreverent summation (“the mud, the noise, the endless … poetry”), for example, hinges on evoking accepted and shared touchstones with the audience.

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Posted in History, Non-fiction, Review and War

Treaty flows, Alex Calder

Treaty of Waitangi: The Land is Our History: Indigeneity, Law, and the Settler State  Miranda Johnson Oxford University Press, $41.00, ISBN 9780190600020 Reconciliation, Representation and Indigeneity: “Biculturalism” in Aotearoa New Zealand   Peter Adds, Brigitte Bönish-Brednich, Richard S Hill, Graeme

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Posted in History, Maori, Non-fiction, Politics & Law and Review

Resource and recreation, Andrew Erueti

The Struggle for Māori Fishing Rights: Te Ika a Māori  Brian Bargh Huia, $45.00, ISBN 9781775501961 Te Matau a Maui: Fish-hooks, Fishing and Fisheries in New Zealand Chris Paulin with Mark Fenwick fishHook Publications, $50.00, ISBN 9780473328696 Māori have ownership

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Posted in History, Maori, Non-fiction, Politics & Law and Review

New ways of looking at the Treaty, Therese Crocker

The Treaty on the Ground: Where We are Headed, and Why it Matters  Rachael Bell, Margaret Kawharu, Kerry Taylor, Michael Belgrave and Peter Meihana (eds) Massey University Press, $40.00, ISBN 9780994130051 New Treaty, New Tradition: Reconciling New Zealand and Māori

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Posted in History, Non-fiction, Politics & Law and Review

Powerful peace, Robert Sullivan

Te Whiti o Rongomai and the Resistance of Parihaka Danny Keenan Huia, $45.00, ISBN 9781775501954 This account of the non-violent resistance movement founded by the prophets Te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kākahi at the Taranaki settlement of Parihaka begins

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Posted in History, Maori, Non-fiction, Review and War

National anthems, Andrew Schmidt

In Love with these Times: My Life with Flying Nun Records Roger Shepherd HarperCollins, $37.00, ISBN 9781775540892 A Road Tour of American Song Titles: From Mendocino to Memphis Karl Du Fresne Bateman, $40.00, ISBN 9781869359382 Flying Nun Records, the small

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Posted in History, Music, Non-fiction and Review

War games, Ron Palenski

War Blacks: The Extraordinary Story of New Zealand’s World War 1 All Blacks Matt Elliott HarperCollins, $45.00, ISBN 9781775540366 Tom Ellison has a lot to answer for. One of the early All Blacks of erudition and original thought, he wrote a

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Posted in History, Non-fiction, Review and Sport
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