On the shelves for NZ Book Month

It’s New Zealand Book month so it should come as no surprise that there are plenty of Kiwi books lurking on the shelves in bookshops around the country.

I’ve been running reviews of books by New Zealand authors on our books page in The Southland Times every Saturday this month, with the final round-up to come this week.

Here’s a selection of some of the Kiwi gems you can pick up.

Summer Houses, by Simon Devitt and Andrea Stevens (Penguin, RRP $60):

Showcasing architecture that celebrates summer living in New Zealand, photographer Simon Devitt and writer Andrea Stevens have captured more than 20 of the country’s most stunning homes and holiday retreats.

A wide range of houses features from across many regions, including some gems from the southern area.

While the books claims to cover everything from “simple island baches” to the more upmarket dwellings, I think it’s safe to say the simple baches (or cribs, as we call them in the south) are really not that simple: when I was a young’un we holidayed in what was a real crib that came complete with rodents and a long-drop loo. The houses featured in this book are holiday homes, with stunning views, all the mod cons and not a rat in sight.

It’s a lovely book that is both aspirational and inspirational.


I Am Five and Go To School, by Helen May (Otago University Press, RRP $50):  The twentieth century was a time of great change in early years education. As the century opened, the emergence of psychology as a discipline, and especially its work on child development, was beginning to influence thinking about how infants learn through play.

While there were many teachers who maintained Victorian approaches in their classrooms, some others experimented.

As well, there was increasing political support for new approaches at the turn of the century.

All was not plain sailing, however, and this book charts both the progress made and the obstacles overcome in the course of the century, as the nation battled its way through world wars and depressions.

Early New Zealand Photography, edited by Angela Wanhalla and Erika Wolf (Otago University Press, RRP $50): We are all participants in an increasingly visual culture, yet we rarely give thought to the ways that photographs shape our experience and understanding of the world and historical past.

This book looks at a range of New Zealand photographs up to 1918 and analyses them as photo-objects, considering how they were made, who made them, what they show and how our understanding of them can vary or change over time. The writers include photographers, museum curators, academics and other researchers.

Through the book, the essays explore a host of issues related to the development of photography in New Zealand.

World War I is the end point.

Christchurch: An Artists’ Tribute, compiled by Denis Robinson (New Holland Publishers, RRP $50) :  Denis Robinson has compiled a moving tribute to Christchurch with a collection of paintings of the city as it was before the devastating earthquakes of 2010 and 2011. He approached 19 artists – Cantabrians, past or present, or frequent visitors from other places – to request paintings that showed beautiful and evocative views of the city and its neo-gothic stone and character buildings.

Many artists returned to old sketchbooks, to discover drawings still waiting to be painted, and these new artworks sit alongside paintings completed in earlier days and others sourced especially for inclusion in this book. The artists give personal introductions to their works.

Mau Moko: The World of Maori Tattoo, by Ngahuia Te Awekotuki (Penguin, RRP $50): In the traditional Maori world, the moko, or facial or body tattoo, was a sign of great mana and status.

Mau Moko looks at the history of the moko, from pre-European times to the present day. It examines the use of tattooing by traditional and contemporary Maori and links it to other aspects of Maori culture.

The book features case studies of modern Maori who have made a personal decision to be tattooed; the role and status of the tattooers; exploitation of the moko in popular culture around the world by figures such as rock singers and football players.

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