Blog Archives

Mingling the sacred and the profane, Martin Edmond

The Penguin Book of New Zealand War Writing
Harry Ricketts and Gavin McLean (eds)
Penguin Books, $65.00, ISBN 9780143573098

Oddly enough – or perhaps not – when this book arrived at my door I remembered one of the more arcane customs recorded in Te Rangi Hiroa’s The Coming of the Māori: “Warriors before setting out on a military campaign,” he writes, “each in turn bit (ngau) the cross beam (paepae) of the latrine.” These were cliff-side toilets in hill forts and the cross beam was what you held onto while you shat into the void below. There was a strong tapu upon it, to prevent the theft of faecal matter for the purposes of sorcery; and the ceremony of the biting of the bar was attended by a tohunga chanting karakia considered protective of Te Hokowhitu a Tu as they went off to make war.

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Posted in Non-fiction, Review and War

Orchids in socks, Rae Varcoe

Quarantine! Protecting New Zealand at the Border  Gavin McLean and Tim Shoebridge Otago University Press, $45.00, ISBN 9781877372827   The word quarantine derives from the Italian for 40: the number of days deemed appropriate to seclude a vessel known to

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Posted in Health, Non-fiction and Review

Kip in the round, Gavin McLean

Howard Kippenberger: Dauntless Spirit Denis McLean Random House, $39.99, ISBN 978869790264 When Denis McLean (no relation) interviewed former comrades of Howard Kippenberger and asked for criticisms of the general, he was astounded that they “were not only nonplussed but shocked

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Posted in Biography, Non-fiction, Review and War

Stamping one’s mark, Edmund Bohan

The Governors: New Zealand’s Governors and Governors-General Gavin McLean Otago University Press, $59.95, ISBN 1877372250 Amassing Treasures for All Times: Sir George Grey, Colonial Bookman and Collector Donald Jackson Kerr Otago University Press, $59.95, ISBN 1877372218 Gavin McLean’s book is,

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Posted in History, Non-fiction and Review

Standing places of the heart, Harvey McQueen

Heartlands: New Zealand Historians Write about Where History Happened Kynan Gentry and Gavin McLean (eds) Penguin, $35.00, ISBN 0143019929 History used to be about kings, queens, politicians, diplomats, generals, wars, revolutions, parliaments, laws and treaties. My early schooling followed the

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Posted in History, Non-fiction and Review

It was hell, Gavin McLean

Diary of a Kiwi Soldier in World War II Cecil Coughlan (ed Garrie Coughlan) Reed, $19.99, ISBN 1007900104X No Better Death: The Great War Diaries and Letters of William G Malone ed John Crawford (with Peter Cooke) Reed, $49.99, ISBN

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Posted in Letters, Memoir, Non-fiction, Review and War

Frontiers of marketing, Stevan Eldred-Grigg

Frontier of Dreams: The Story of New Zealand ed Bronwyn Dalley and Gavin McLean TVNZ/Hodder Moa, $79.95, ISBN 1869710061 “Another damned, thick, square, book!” We’ve all heard the story about those words spoken by a doltish Duke of Gloucester upon

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Posted in Health, Non-fiction and Review

Queering the Kiwi bloke’s pitch, Gavin McLean

The Life of Brian: Masculinities, Sexualities and Health in New Zealand ed Heather Worth, Anna Paris and Louisa Allen University of Otago Press, $39.95, ISBN 1877276251 Worlds in Collision: The Gay Debate in New Zealand 1960-1986 Laurie Guy Victoria University

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Posted in Gender, Non-fiction, Review and Sociology

Empty vessel, Gavin McLean

Joyita: Solving the Mystery David G Wright Auckland University Press, $29.95, ISBN 1869402707 It was a recurring image in New Zealand and Pacific newspapers and magazines 40 to 50 years ago: the waterlogged hull of the old Islands trader Joyita,

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Posted in Memoir, Non-fiction and Review

Robber barons, worker rebels, Gavin McLean

British Capital, Antipodean Labour: Working the New Zealand Waterfront 1915-1951 Anna Green Otago University Press, $39.95, ISBN 187713399X A few weeks ago, a retired port agency manager asked  me who was “this Anna Green lady” and did I know anything

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