Our New Zealand,
by Sarah Ell and Nicola Legat (Random House NZ, RRP $50):
It’s getting to that time of the year when you are perhaps thinking about Christmas gifts for family and friends overseas, and you’d be hard pressed to find something that represents better value that this book.
Published last year but still every bit as relevant, and subtitled “a Celebration of our National Treasures & Pleasures”, this is a lovely hard-covered look at all that is good about New Zealand.
Condensing all our great stuff into one book must have been a hard job for the authors but they have done a great job, covering everything from our music and our culture to recipes and heroes, sporting and otherwise.
This isn’t a complete catalogue by any means: I may be an unabashed Kiwi patriot, but I truly believe it would take many, many volumes to cover everything that could be classed as a treasure or pleasure about our country.
However, it is a great taster of what we have and what we have shared with the world over the years, including places like Fiordland National Park and Maniototo, the haka, the knighted (such as Sir Ed Hillary and Sir Peter Blake) and unknighted but not unsung speedsters (Burt Munro and Bruce McLaren), running and jumping (rugby and bungy), jetboats, cabbage trees and kauri, kakapo and kea: each entry totally deserving of its spot in this compilation of Kiwi greatness.
And that includes, of course, that uber Kiwi dessert that the Aussies keep trying to steal: the pavlova.
Adding to the impact of the book is the spectacular range of photographs and illustrations.
Despite the pleasure so many seem to take from highlighting the negatives these days, we really do have a lot to celebrate in our awesome little country. This book is a fantastic reminder of that, and at $50 represents pretty good value for money.