Tarawera, by Geoff Conly (Grantham House Publishing, $39.99):
When Mt Tarawera erupted early on the morning of June 10, 1886, 153 people died and New Zealand lost what was at the time the country’s greatest tourist attraction, the spectacular pink and white terraces.
Widely acclaimed as the eighth wonder of the world, the terraces were magnificent naturally formed staircases that rose from Lake Rotomahana. They came about as a result of thermal action spreading deposits of silica in crystallised white and pink.
When the eruption happened, many people died instantly, particularly the Maori in the lakeside settlement of Moura. Others were smothered by volcanic mud, entombed alive or killed by rocks and debris.
However, from that horrific eruption that took lives and left a devastated landscape in its wake came heroes who helped others to safety, put out the call for help, risked their own lives to do their part and, in at least one case, simply gave comfort to others by praying with them even though they knew they would die.
The riveting book also has plenty of illustrations showing the before and aftermath of Mother Nature’s work.