Many New Zealand writers in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century travelled extensively or lived overseas for a time, and they often led very interesting lives. The received wisdom is that they were forced to leave these colonial backblocks in search of literary inspiration and publishing opportunities.
In The Expatriate Myth, Helen Bones presents a challenge to this conventional understanding, based on detailed historical and empirical research. This fascinating and clear-sighted book offers a fresh perspective on some hoary New Zealand literary chestnuts.
Walking to Jutland Street is the debut poetry collection of Michael Steven, an Auckland poet with strong connections to Dunedin, published by Otago University Press.
From car workshops to tinnie houses, from school playgrounds to the hidden lives on the margins of society, Steven's poetry captures the transitory with an intense clarity, distilling everyday experiences of New Zealand life into an encompassing poetic vision.
An astute and sympathetic observer of gritty, day-to-day urban reality, Steven is equally a writer steeped in literary tradition, Buddhist mysticism and world-historical narrative. His literary cousins are Olds, Orr, Mitchell, Dickson, Johnson and Baxter.
An out-of-the-way corner of the South Island, the Catlins is a beautiful and relatively unspoilt area with many natural attractions, including that rare thing on the east coast, native forest. Neville Peat introduces the region – its flora, wildlife, bush walks, caves and waterfalls – before tracing the journey along the stunning Southern Scenic Route linking Otago, Southland and Fiordland.
Bounded by the wild waves of the Pacific on the east, and the more sheltered harbour on the west, the Otago Peninsula is a remarkable landscape. Today a habitat for a diverse array of wildlife including albatrosses, penguins and seals, the Peninsula has undergone dramatic changes since it first attracted human settlement.
An important new book by Jonathan West, The Face of Nature: An environmental history of the Otago Peninsula, explores what people and place made of one another from the arrival of the first Polynesians until the end of the nineteenth century.
Lisa Warrington and David O'Donnell
This book celebrates 30 years of Pasifika theatre in Aotearoa/New Zealand. Pacific Underground, Pacific Theatre, The Laughing Samoans, The Conch, The Naked Samoans, Kila Kokonut Krew – the distinctive style and themes of Pasifika theatre have been developed by many individuals and theatre companies in New Zealand.
Authors Lisa Warrington and David O’Donnell have interviewed over 30 theatre practitioners to tell the story of Pasifika theatre in Aotearoa from 1984 to 2015. This lively book showcases playwrights, directors and performers whose heritage lies in Samoa, Niue, Fiji, Tonga, Tokelau and the Cook Islands. Extracts from the interviews are threaded throughout the book, providing often entertaining insights into their history and creative practice.
Edited by David Eggleton
Landfall is New Zealand's foremost and longest-running arts and literary journal. It showcases new fiction and poetry, as well as biographical and critical essays, and cultural commentary.
This issue features results of the Kathleen Grattan Award for Poetry 2017 and judge’s report by Bill Manhire, results of the Caselberg Trust International Poetry Prize and judge’s report by Riemke Ensing, results and winning essays from Landfall Essay Competition 2017, and judge’s report by David Eggleton
As one of eight writers, poet Janet Charman was invited in 2009 to take part in a hectic, immersive literary residency in Hong Kong. Written out of this time of stimulating buzz, 仁 surrender chronicles the tensions, translations and literary crushes that ensue, with ever-present comedy.
From this intense hothouse and these privileged constraints flow narrative poems that capture the creative and cultural dislocation of travel, with its petty irritants and constant surprises.
It’s no secret that Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) was a penal colony for British convicts. Yet surprisingly at least 110 New Zealand prisoners were also transported to the island in the nineteenth century to serve time as convict labourers.
Author Kristyn Harman offers insights into penal servitude in Van Diemen’s Land as revealed through the lived experiences of the men and sole woman transported from New Zealand.
Whether Māori men serving time for political infractions, white-collar criminals, labourers, vagrants or the soldiers sent to fight the empire’s wars, each convict’s experiences reveal something about the way in which the British Empire sought to discipline, punish and reform those who trespassed against it.
Phoney Wars: New Zealand Society in the Second World War, a new book from Stevan Eldred-Grigg, argues that we had no business going to war against either Germany in 1939 or Japan in 1941. Our motives for doing so were muddled and contradictory. Also we were never in danger of being bombed by any ‘enemy’ air force or invaded by any ‘enemy’ army.
Eldred-Grigg questions the war as a story of ‘good’ against ‘bad.’ Everyone knows the Axis powers behaved ruthlessly, but how many are aware of the brutality of the Allied powers in bombing and starving not only Axis but even Allied peoples? New Zealand colluded in and helped carry out such brutal aggressions. Were we, in going to war, really on the side of the angels?
Nearly eighty years on, the reasons for New Zealand going to war need to be interrogated closely. Was it in the best interests of the people of New Zealand?
Priscilla Pitts and Andrea Hotere
In 1966 Michael Illingworth, whose oil painting Adam and Eve appears on the front cover of this book, was awarded the inaugural Frances Hodgkins Fellowship.
For the first time in New Zealand a practising artist was given a studio and paid a salary to make art for a whole year. Such support, as Frances Hodgkins herself wrote from her own experience, was capable of ‘yielding up riches – undreamed of’. Poet and critic David Eggleton has described the fellowship as ‘an emblem of cultural endeavour which … holds a legendary status in the public imagination’.
This sumptuous book brings together the art and the stories of half a century of Frances Hodgkins fellows. Arts commentator Priscilla Pitts writes about their work, while journalist Andrea Hotere interviews the artists about their lives and sources of inspiration. The result is a vibrant celebration of a wealth of talent fostered through New Zealand’s foremost visual arts residency, showing how the artistic wealth created has flowed back into the culture of the small country that nurtured it.
At the end of the first volume of Elspeth Sandys’ absorbing memoir, What Lies Beneath, an adult Elspeth has solved the riddle of her birth parents and begun to piece together the events of her early life and find her place in the world. Casting Off begins on the eve of Elspeth’s first marriage. She and her husband will soon depart New Zealand for England, joining a throng of Kiwis who chose to uproot themselves from their native land.
New attachments will be formed: new loves – of people; of places – will take the place of the old. But the home country will continue to exercise a pull. Backgrounding the personal story in this deeply satisfying memoir is the story of the Thatcher years and the creeping virus of neo-liberalism, the sexual revolution of the sixties, the beguiling world of books – reading and writing – and theatre. Elspeth Sandys’ refreshing honesty and her skill as a writer of fiction and drama propel the reader through an absorbing life story that is equally a commentary on the meaning of memoir and the peculiarities of memory.