Blog Archives

A poverty of compassion, Rod Oram

Child Poverty in New Zealand
Jonathan Boston and Simon Chapple
Bridget Williams Books, $50.00,
ISBN 9781927247860

“New Zealand has the necessary resources to reduce child poverty, and equitable and efficient ways to secure these resources are available. The question is not about our capacity, it is about our political will.” This is the unequivocal conclusion of Jonathan Boston and Simon Chapple in their book Child Poverty in New Zealand. They base it on their exhaustive analysis of the scale, complexity and damage of child poverty, and the myriad ways we could tackle it.

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The cost of living, Don Brash

The New Zealand CPI at 100: History and Interpretation
Sharleen Forbes and Antong Victorio (eds)
Victoria University Press, $40.00,
ISBN 9780864739667

To my considerable surprise, I enjoyed this book, and learnt much more than I expected from the diversity of writers who contributed chapters.

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

The Goliath of public opinion, Gyles Beckford

Peace, Power and Politics: How New Zealand Became Nuclear Free
Maire Leadbetter
Otago University Press
ISBN 9781877578588

I remember that visit of the USS Truxtun to Wellington in August 1976. It was cold and dreary, matching the battle-grey paintwork of the ship. We were a loose amalgam of students, unionists, peaceniks, and a sprinkling of concerned suburbanites under the umbrella of the Campaign Against Nuclear Warships. We stood outside the Queen’s Wharf gates with banners and placards, and plenty of jeers and abuse for the small knots of sailors coming ashore.

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

Moral force, John Campbell

The Mighty Totara: The Life and Times of Norman Kirk
David Grant
Random House, $50.00,
ISBN 9781775535799

I was 10 when Norman Kirk died. It was the first death I had ever registered. When the news came through, my parents became so silent (our house was never silent) that I remember it 40 years on: the radio and an absence. My memory also contains a physical location. It is the staircase between the living-room and our bedrooms. I am sitting on it, looking down, and my parents are below me at the big table. It is a photo in my head. An external sense, as if someone else was there to describe it, of me waiting for them to make sense of it all, as parents always do. But they can’t. I tell that story now because Norman Kirk’s death often seems to occasion the sharp remembrance of a closer loss, even in people who never met him. Mine is an almost story book recollection that I carry with me.

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

The liberal leftie who learned maths, Matthew Hooton

Incredible Luck
Don Brash
Troika, $35.00,
ISBN 9780473269081

The tradition, when a New Zealand political book is published, is for our small but self-absorbed political class to rush to the nearest bookshop – often Bennetts at 1 Bowen Street, now sadly closed – to check the index, read any bits pertaining to themselves, and put it back on the shelf. Compared with, say, Craig Potton Publishing, the publisher of Don Brash’s autobiography has been more commercially astute: Incredible Luck has no index. To find out if you’re in it, you’ll have to buy it and read it all the way through.

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

Dressing Wellington’s radicals, David Grant

Sewing Freedom: Philip Josephs, Transnationalism and Early New Zealand Anarchism Jared Davidson AK Press, $15.00, ISBN 9781849351324 Philip Josephs was a Latvian-born Jewish tailor who escaped religious persecution in his home country. He emigrated firstly to Glasgow – the industrial

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Refugees and New Zealand compassion, Verica Rupar

Refuge New Zealand: A Nation‘s Response to Refugees and Asylum Seekers Ann Beaglehole Otago University Press, $45.00, ISBN 9781877578502 Andris, Where are You? From Latvia to New Zealand: The Family Story of Andris Apse Ron Crosby Craig Potton Publishing, $40.00,

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

Perseverance and poetry, Barry Gustafson

Reform: A Memoir Geoffrey Palmer Victoria University Press, $80.00, ISBN 9780864739056 Sir Geoffrey Palmer had a distinguished career as a law professor in both New Zealand and the United States and as deputy prime minister and then prime minister in

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

Human rights and public fright, Anne Opie

The Quiet War on Asylum Tracey Barnett Bridget Williams Books, $5.00, ISBN 9781927131909 (EPUB), 9781927131916 (KINDLE), 9781927277983 (PDF) The Punitive Society: Falling Crime and Rising Imprisonment in New Zealand  John Pratt Bridget Williams Books, $5.00, ISBN 9781927277270 (EPUB), 9781927277287 (KINDLE),

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Compelling mental health, Charles Hornabrook

New Zealand’s Mental Health Act in Practice John Dawson and Kris Gledhill (eds) Victoria University Press, $50.00, ISBN 9780864739049 This book, released to coincide with the 21st birthday of the Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act of 1992 (MHCAT

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