When Running Made History
Canterbury University Press, $25.00,
New Zealanders have a longstanding connection with running. Long-distance running was one of the early activities of Māori and, from at least as early as the 1880s, New Zealand athletes were taking part in international competitions. Running has been both an everyday activity and a sport in which New Zealanders have triumphed on the global stage: the achievements of Jack Lovelock, Peter Snell, Murray Halberg, John Walker, Allison Roe, Anne Audain, Lorraine Moller and Lisa Tamati, among others, have been enshrined in national memory. When Running Made History utilises Roger Robinson’s personal memories as a lens to explain how a formerly largely individualistic pursuit became a global phenomenon.
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Sport and the New Zealanders: A History
Greg Ryan and Geoff Watson
Auckland University Press, $65.00,
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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Encounters: The Creation of New Zealand. A History
The Voyagers: Remarkable European Explorations of New Zealand
In a year in which the historical focus is very much on the centenary of WWI, two recently published books by Paul Moon remind us that we have a much longer history than our involvement in that conflict and that there are many ways, other than warfare, through which New Zealand’s identity can, and has been, defined.
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