Ignoring the book
Ignoring the book
The Imaginary Lives of James Pōneke
Vintage, $38.00, ISBN 9780143771562
You don’t have to be a good old-fashioned structuralist to look into the patterns of history and see the tectonic grind of ideas reflected in the rippling of the surface, in the lives of individuals. It has seldom been enough for an emperor to appeal to might alone for the justification of hegemony. In practically every instance, a grand idea has been vaunted as the basis for the moral authority to rule. The wane of empires has usually been accompanied by a shift in philosophy, but not necessarily cleanly, completely, or all at once.
Heke Tangata: Māori in Markets and Cities
Brian Easton for Te Whanau o Waipareira
Oratia Books, $30.00,
In late 1984, a small group of Māori politicians, public servants and their helpers, invented an iwi to welcome hundreds of Māori from around the country to parliament for the Hui Taumata – the Māori Economic Summit. As delegates of different iwi arrived in the old Legislative Chamber, they were welcomed by the “Ngati Beehive”, an eclectic mix of organisers and staff of different tribal and ethnic backgrounds. The Hui Taumata was a less publicised, lower profile version of the newly elected Labour Government’s Economic Summit, at which Sue Bradford made such an impact. But its significance was that it drew together in a forum the collective voice of Māori, highlighted not just the difficulties, the deprivation and the obstacles, but looked at Māori resources, the positives, the solutions, and the future possibilities.
Good-bye Maoriland: The Songs and Sounds of New Zealand’s Great War
Auckland University Press, $60.00,
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.”
Limbs Dance Company – Dance for All People, 1977–1989
Marianne Schultz in conjunction with DANZ, $40.00
This book about Limbs, New Zealand’s brightest modern dance troupe, in its heyday in 1980s Auckland, is dedicated “for Sue Paterson, a dear and true friend”. Sue was the long-term General Manager of the company. How poignant, then, to be reviewing this book in the same week that we have farewelled the lifelong visionary arts administrator, who died after a prolonged illness that devastated her body, but never extinguished her spirit. Quite like Limbs really. Schultz has told the company’s story well, setting it in the context of its times. History will thank her for that and we should, too.
The Pacific in the Wake of Captain Cook, with Sam Neill
Meaghan Wilson Anastasios
Is there anything new to say about Captain James Cook’s expeditions to the Pacific? Edited accounts of his voyages appeared from 1773 and, in just the last 20 years, over 200 books on this remarkable explorer and mariner have been published. However, it is now 250 years since Cook departed on the first of his great voyages to the South Pacific and, being an anniversary year, what better time to tap into the publicity surrounding his feats? The Pacific in the Wake of Captain Cook accompanies a lavishly-produced television series presented with a comfortable balance of gravitas and intimacy by New Zealand actor Sam Neill. But is this book a cast-off from the television series, or does it stand on its own in any way as a useful contribution to the literature on the topic?
The Waikato – A History of New Zealand’s Greatest River
Atuanui Press, $70.00, ISBN 9780994137616
At 425 kilometres, the Waikato is the longest river in New Zealand. The case Paul Moon makes in The Waikato – A History of New Zealand’s Greatest River is that it is also the most culturally significant.
The Mapmakers’ Race Eirlys Hunter, Gecko Press, $25.00
Time Twins Arne Norlin and Sally Astridge, Submarine, $25.00
Finding David Hill, Puffin, $20.00
Donato and the Cartege Blade
Mary Egan Publishing, $25.00,
1918: Broken Poppies Des Hunt, Scholastic, $19.00,
How Not to Stop a Kidnap Plot Suzanne Main, Scholastic, $17.00,
Dawn Raid Pauline (Vaeluaga) Smith, Scholastic, $18.00,
Unlike the other books reviewed, Fiona Jordan’s Donata and the Cartege Blade is not set in a current or historical New Zealand. Its setting is recognisable, though. Time – Middle Ages, round about: place – fantasy land. This means there are monasteries, cloaked monks, ruined abbeys, looming mountains, ancient castles with dark passages, attempted assassinations and more than a hint of issues to do with identity. Indeed, quite early on in the novel, the protagonist learns he is no ordinary boy. He is the child of important parents, and who they are is one of the main threads running through the story. As a baby, it became clear that he was at risk of being murdered, so he was deftly swapped with another baby. Which was rather unfortunate for the replacement baby, for whom the swap turned out to be fatal.
Beyond Manapouri: 50 Years of Environmental Politcs in New Zealand
Canterbury University Press, $40.00,
The battle to preserve our waters in this country has left us, as a nation, almost as bruised and divided as we were during the Springbok tour. There is a moment in the middle of any maelstrom in which you wonder how you got there; by which wrong move; by courtesy of whose malevolent god in particular. As if in answer, Catherine Knight has elegantly traced the evolution of environmental politics from Manapouri in 1972 to the Ruataniwha dam 30 years later. It is an overlay of torn landscapes, muddied waters, greed and broken hearts; it is a paean of lost opportunities.