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New book profiles New Zealanders and their pets

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Monday 9 December 2013 4:32pm


Creature Comforts: New Zealanders and their pets – an illustrated history by Nancy Swarbrick, a new book published by Otago University Press, documents the development of pet culture in New Zealand.

Why are we so in love with our finned, feathered and four-legged friends? How and when did this passion develop and how has our relationship with our pets changed over time?

These questions and more are captivatingly explored and portrayed in this wonderfully illustrated volume.

“I set out to gain some understanding of why New Zealanders are so fond of their animal companions by tracing the development of pet culture in this country. I define “pet” very broadly to include companion animals of all kinds,” says author Nancy Swarbrick.

Creature Comforts sheds lights on the different kinds of relationship we have had with our pets and how this has changed over time: from pets in the settler home and pre-European Maori pet keeping to today’s view of pets as one of the family.

‘Because of New Zealand’s geographical isolation animals were important in helping to adjust to a new life – both Maori and Pakeha brought animals with them,’ says Nancy Swarbrick.

Illustrated with beautiful and intriguing photographs and artworks – many of which have never been published before – and filled with colourful, quirky anecdotes, the book reveals the delight we have always taken in our companion animals.

“There are some serious issues for readers to ponder, but at the same time, the book celebrates the lighter, if not peculiar, side of our passion for pets,’ says Swarbrick.

“One of my favourite stories is of the “chief rodent control officer” at the workshop of the National Publicity Studios: a cat by the name of Mr Moggs, who had held his position since the mid-1950s … . By 1967 Mr Moggs’s duties were evidently light – no rats had been seen in years – but he was a favourite with the staff and even had his name on the telephone list.’

For further information, contact:

Nancy Swarbrick
Creature Comforts: New Zealanders and
their pets – an illustrated history

By Nancy Swarbrick


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