Blog Archives

Memory and amnesia, Giovanni Tiso

To the Memory: New Zealand’s War Memorials Jock Phillips Potton and Burton, $60.00, ISBN 9780947503024 Think of it as a road guide to New Zealand of sorts, one that maps your route both spatially and chronologically: for almost every town

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Posted in History, Non-fiction, Review and War

Tales from the colonial crypt, Jock Phillips

Unearthly Landscapes: New Zealand’s Early Cemeteries, Churchyards and Urupa¯ 
Stephen Deed
Otago University Press, $50.00,
ISBN 9781927322185

A confession: I am a cemetery buff. On arriving at any New Zealand settlement, it is not long before I find the local burial ground and spend an hour or so walking slowly along the lines of headstones perusing and reading every one. This is not some ghoulish addiction. It is because there is no quicker or more intense way to encounter our history. You learn intriguing personal stories, you confront tragic drownings or the loss of infants in epidemics. Unusual family relationships are suggested which leave you yearning to know more; and you wonder at the moral values inscribed in stone in tributes to leading citizens. The design of headstones offers insights into architectural history and bears a fascinating relationship to domestic styles. Cemeteries are beautiful, peculiarly peaceful places.

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Posted in History and Non-fiction

Voices from the past, Jock Phillips

Remembering Gallipoli: Interviews with New Zealand Gallipoli Veterans
Christopher Pugsley and Charles Ferrall (eds)
Victoria University Press, $40.00
ISBN 9780864739919

Amid the flood of printed words that have marked the centenary of New Zealand’s Gallipoli experience, Remembering Gallipoli comes with, in every sense, the most history. The interviews on which the book is based were initially conducted in 1982 by four women, members of a media company, Bluestockings, as background research for Television New Zealand. There were 130 soldiers and one nurse interviewed, all in their late 80s or 90s. Chris Pugsley and Maurice Shadbolt then re-interviewed 21 (or 26 as Pugsley writes elsewhere) on camera. Extracts were used in the powerful 1984 documentary Gallipoli: The New Zealand Story and drawn on for Pugsley’s magnificent book in the same year with the same name. Shadbolt chose 12 of the subjects to tell their stories in his stirring Voices of Gallipoli (1988), a book which was a revelation to many, including Helen Clark, who read it on the plane flying to Gallipoli in 2000 when she conceived of a project to record the memories of WWII veterans.

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Posted in Non-fiction, Review and War

Captions and context, David Littlewood

The Anzacs: An Inside View of New Zealanders at Gallipoli
Auckland War Memorial Museum
Penguin, $45.00,
ISBN 9780143572336

Brothers in Arms: Gordon and Robin Harper in the Great War
Jock Phillips with Philip Harper and Susan Harper
NZHistoryJock, $40.00,
ISBN 9780473308773

One of the more encouraging historiographical developments of recent times has been a greater willingness to prioritise alternative sources. Instead of producing blocks of text with a few pictures thrown in for embellishment, scholars are increasingly using images as a central part of their efforts to communicate the “experiences” of the past. Both The Anzacs and Brothers in Arms demonstrate the potential of this approach for studies of New Zealand soldiers during the Great War. However, one of them manages to structure and balance its various elements more effectively than the other.

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Posted in History, Non-fiction, Review and War

Page vs screen, Jock Phillips

Jock Phillips reflects on editing www.teara.govt.nz.

I grew up in a house full of books, where conversations inspired by books flowed free. Visits to the library were precious. I yearned to write books and will never forget that extraordinary moment when I held in my hand a copy of my first book. Books, along with magazines, were the pathway to intellectual excitement. They were the literary world.

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Posted in Comment

The lonely soldier, Peter Ireland

ANZAC
Laurence Aberhart (photographs) and Jock Phillips (essay)
Victoria University Press with Dunedin Public Art Gallery, $60.00,
ISBN 9780864739339

What to make of all the hoopla surrounding the centenary of WWI? Is it just one thing we’re commemorating – say, honouring “the supreme sacrifice” – or is it a whole bunch of stuff to do with fostering “national identity” (that three-legged beast with its tail at the wrong end), or even to do with pursuing commercial opportunity? After all, the fallen fell not only to defend motherhood and democracy, but the freedom to engage in marketing, too.

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Posted in Non-fiction

Reconsidering a juvenile critique, Jock Phillips

“I think I am becoming a New Zealander”: Letters of J C Beaglehole Tim Beaglehole (ed) Victoria University Press, $80.00, ISBN 9780864739025 For someone such as myself, this is an engrossing book. I had met J C Beaglehole (his preferred

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Posted in Letters, Non-fiction and Review

Less English than the English, Tony Simpson

Settlers: New Zealand Immigrants From England, Ireland and Scotland 1800 to 1945  Jock Phillips and Terry Hearn  Auckland University Press, $39.99,  ISBN 9781869404017  Over the next few years, our official historians have announced, they will concentrate attention on our immigrant

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Posted in History, Non-fiction and Review

Crockery and bad language, Jock Phillips

Disputed Histories: Imagining New Zealand’s Pasts Tony Ballantyne and Brian Moloughney (ed) Otago University Press, $49.95, ISBN 1877276161 This immensely stimulating volume began life as a tribute to Erik Olssen on the occasion of his retirement from Otago University. The

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Posted in History, Non-fiction and Review

The historian who opened our eyes, Jock Phillips

Michael King I got to know Michael King as a student at Victoria University in the mid-1960s. It was an exciting time. There was marching in the streets, heated late-night discussions over instant coffee. We were getting out from under.

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