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A prime ministerial primer, Simon Upton

New Zealand’s Prime Ministers: From Dick Seddon to John Key
Michael Bassett
David Ling Publishing, $50.00,
ISBN 9781927305294

New Zealand’s Prime Ministers is a very large volume. It is also an extremely ambitious one that is challenging as a through-read. Twenty-four prime ministers (PMs) dispatched chronologically, from Dick Seddon to John Key, is not an easy assignment. Many will, I suspect, explore this celebrated roll call randomly. You might pick out a shadowy, short-lived incumbent of whom you know little (like Thomas Noble McKenzie, whose three and a half month reign in 1912 brought the curtain down on the great Liberal era that began in 1891); or ferret in the (voluminous) footnotes to tie down the manoeuvrings of a contemporary survivor like Michael Moore or Jenny Shipley.

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Posted in Non-fiction, Politics & Law and Review

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

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

Chalk and cheese William Brandt

The Many Deaths of Mary Dobie: Murder, Politics and Revenge in Nineteenth-century New Zealand
David Hastings
Auckland University Press, $40.00,
ISBN 9781869408374

The Scene of the Crime: Twelve Extraordinary True Stories of Crime and Punishment
Steve Braunias
HarperCollins, $37.00,
ISBN 9781775540830

Tourism has certainly come a long way. When in 1878 Mary Dobie made the trip from England to New Zealand, travelling in the company of sister Bertha (has that name ever been fashionable?) and mother Ellen, it took her three months. Not surprisingly after such a big investment of time and effort, the women planned a stay of three years – time to attend the wedding of émigré brother Herbert and still fit in a tour of the North Island, taking in, among other places, the fabled Pink and White Terraces of Lake Rotomahana. In special travel outfits of their own design (“a stout dungaree petticoat and a loose blouse bodice of thin cotton stuff”), the intrepid trio even visited Fiji and Samoa. “No white woman had ever been there,” journalled Bertha, with some pride, of a caving expedition to the Yasawa Islands.

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

Stodge, serious analysis and spicy bits, Bryan Gould

Moments of Truth: The New Zealand General Election of 2014 Jon Johansson and Stephen Levine (eds) Victoria University Press, $50.00, ISBN 9781776560493 The 2014 general election campaign was, on the face of it, one of the most dramatic of modern

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The thinking man’s cartoonist, Dylan Horrocks

Brockie: A Memoir in Words, Cartoons and Sketches
Bob Brockie
New Zealand Cartoon Archive/Fraser Books, $39.50
ISBN 9780958232074

David Lange called Brockie “the thinking man’s cartoonist”. Which is pretty nice of Lange, considering that Brockie had drawn him on various occasions being pissed on by a giant bulldog, with his head cut off, naked and (very frequently) in drag. Mind you, Lange was far from alone. Robert Muldoon, Jim Bolger, Colin Meads, Kim Dotcom and even Keith Holyoake have all, at various times, been stripped and humiliated by Brockie’s pen, which has been scratching away at public reputations for more than 50 years.

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

Byzantine complexity, Geoffrey Palmer

Democracy in New Zealand
Raymond Miller
Auckland University Press, $45.00,
ISBN 9781869408350

Democracy in New Zealand is a competent work by an experienced and well-published Professor of Politics at the University of Auckland. Clearly designed as a student text for an introductory course in politics in New Zealand universities, it reflects its author’s research interests in electoral systems, government formation and execution, political parties, interest groups, political representation and leadership. Miller’s more specialised comparative work with Ian Marsh, Democratic Decline and Democratic Renewal, was published in 2012.

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Just like on tv, Annabel Cresswell

The Dwarf Who Moved and Other Remarkable Tales from a Life in the Law
Peter Williams
HarperCollins, $50.00,
ISBN 9781775540472

Criminal lawyers love war stories. War stories are great yarns about epic legal disputes, great victories and shocking defeats, where the battlefield is the courtroom.

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