Blog Archives

Colonial orientalism, Paula Morris

Galleries of Maoriland: Artists, Collectors and the Māori World, 1880–1910 
Roger Blackley
Auckland University Press, $75.00,
ISBN 9781869409357

The cover image of Roger Blackley’s impressive new book is a famous one: a tea break in Charles Goldie’s frame-stacked studio in 1901, Pātara Te Tuhi holding cup and saucer, his trousers and dusty boots visible below the sweep of his woven cloak. Both men seem deep in thought. Goldie – starched collar, shiny boots – was just 30, recently returned from studies in Paris; he’d seen a number of Gottfried Lindauer’s Māori portraits at the 1898–99 Auckland exhibition and begun his own rise to national fame.

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Posted in Art, History, Non-fiction, Review

“Evolution or revolution?”, Simon Upton

The New Biological Economy: How New Zealanders are Creating Value from the Land
Eric Pawson and the Biological Economies Team
Auckland University Press, $45.00,
ISBN 9781869408886

Having lived away from New Zealand for the best part of 15 years, I was delighted to read The New Biological Economy. In one fell swoop, its 13 crisp chapters brought me up to date with many very significant changes that have been transforming the land and landscapes of this country. 

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Posted in Non-fiction, Review

The games we play, Owen Mann

Sport and the New Zealanders: A History
Greg Ryan and Geoff Watson
Auckland University Press, $65.00,
ISBN 9781869408831

On Christmas Day last year, many people around the country would have ripped open a well-wrapped gift to discover a sportsperson’s biography in their hands. A popular genre in New Zealand for many decades, these publications often span the brief career of the sportsperson and the figures who have influenced their lives. This Christmas it was NBA basketball star Steven Adams and league veteran Simon Mannering that were amongst the bestsellers. These books can, at times, be interesting and perceptive, but rarely explore beyond the biographical. If they do delve into the nature of sport and why it plays such an important part in New Zealand’s culture, then it is only for the particular sport the individual has excelled at, rather than sporting activities more generally, or how sport ties into the fabric of our society and culture.

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Posted in Non-fiction, Review, Sociology, Sport

Melody slithering through the misery, Martin Lodge

Good-bye Maoriland: The Songs and Sounds of New Zealand’s Great War
Chris Bourke
Auckland University Press, $60.00,
ISBN 978869408718

For both civilians and the soldiers alike on active service during WWI, music proved a significant and enduring element of New Zealand’s war effort and war experience. This was recognised at the time: a contributor to the onboard magazine of the Opawa, a ship carrying troops to Europe, wrote in 1917 that “A ship without a musical programme is like a dog without a tail.”

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Posted in Māori, Music, Non-fiction, Review

Placing the monarchy, Stephen Levine

This Realm of New Zealand: The Sovereign, the Governor-General, the Crown
Alison Quentin-Baxter and Janet McLean
Auckland University Press, $65.00,
ISBN 9781869408756

To say that this book adds considerably to the literature about the monarchy in New Zealand would be an understatement. For those interested in the position of the Queen (and her successors) with respect to New Zealand, as well as in possible alternatives, this is an indispensable work. Produced by two distinguished scholars – Janet McLean is a professor of law at the University of Auckland; Dame Alison Quentin-Baxter has had a long career, contributing her expertise to constitutional developments in New Zealand as well as overseas – the book introduces a wealth of information not only about the role of the monarch but also about her/his representative (from 1841 the Governor; since 1917 the Governor-General), a position of significance in its own right. 

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Posted in Non-fiction, Review

Yearning and erasure, John Horrocks

He’s so MASC
Chris Tse
Auckland University Press, $30.00,
ISBN 1781869408879

The Facts
Therese Lloyd
Victoria University Press, $25.00,
ISBN 9781776561810

Dark Days at the Oxygen Café
James Norcliffe
Victoria University Press, $25.00,
ISBN 9781776560837

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Posted in Literature, Poetry, Review

Colliding pasts, Lydia Wevers

Tears of Rangi: Experiments Across Worlds
Anne Salmond
Auckland University Press, $65.00,
ISBN 9781869408657

 

The cover blurb suggests Tears of Rangi is Anne Salmond’s “most ambitious book to date”, and in many respects this is the case, since in it Salmond tackles vast epistemological and ontological questions to do with the nature of reality and knowledge. Part of the sequence of books beginning with Two Worlds in 1991, Tears of Rangi is a hefty tome (509 pages), but, like her previous books, it is compellingly readable. Salmond has the gift of narrative, and it probably helps that she is also a superb orator. She has given a number of presentations on the material covered in this book and draws large and appreciative audiences.

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Posted in History, Māori, Non-fiction

An account of trauma, Michael Hulse

Allen Curnow: Collected Poems
Elizabeth Caffin and Terry Sturm (eds)
Auckland University Press, $60.00,
ISBN 9781869408510

Allen Curnow’s poetry is a transcript of trauma. “Morning by morning incorruption / Puts on corruption”: this most fundamental of thoughts, borne in upon every one of us as the time of our lives moves from childhood to what we call understanding, and onward, is not Curnow’s alone. The experiences of mutability, transience, and destruction, are universal. “A child returned / Discerns in quicksand his own footprint / Brimming and fading, vanishing.” The evidence that whatever begins in joy, hope and openness is swept away in the indifferent whirlwind lies before us everywhere. Time with a gift of tears. 

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Posted in Literature, Poetry, Review

Consecrating Curnow, Simon During

Allen Curnow: Simply by Sailing in a New Direction
Terry Sturm (Linda Cassells (ed))
Auckland University Press, $70.00,
ISBN 9781869408527,

Allen Curnow’s first book, Valley of Decision, appeared as a “Phoenix Miscellany” under the Auckland University College Students’ Association Press imprint when he was very young, just 22. But Curnow’s abiding concerns were already in place.

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Posted in Biography, Literature, Non-fiction, Review

A story of story-telling, Miriam Meyerhoff

Michael C Corballis
Auckland University Press, $40.00,
ISBN 9781869408633

Many people have remarked that, more than language itself, how we use language is what sets humans apart from other animals. Whales, elephants, birds, other apes, seem to be able to communicate a few things to each other, and we’re starting to find out that some animals can even tailor their communication to specific addressees (“I want food/sex from you; not you”). But we still have no evidence that any other animals tell stories. 

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Posted in Language, Non-fiction, Review
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