This WORD session was hosted by David Higgins, Upoko of Moeraki Rūnanga, with kōrero by the book’s editors Helen Brown (Ngāi Tahu) and Takerei Norton (Ngāi Tahu), and by book contributors Robyn Walsh (Ngāi Tahu) and Mike Stevens (Ngāi Tahu).
The book emerged from the work of the Ngāi Tahu Archives team on Kā Huru Manu, the amazing Ngāi Tahu digital atlas. While collecting and recording places names around Te Waipounamu, the research team realised they were also discovering the names and stories of people who were the very heart of Ngāi Tahu whakapapa. This book is intended to be the first of a series born out of the work of the atlas, and a second volume is already in process.
The individual biographies in Tāngata Ngāi Tahu cover 200 years of Ngāi Tahu whānau history, producing a ‘tribal family album’ of stories and images. Editor Helen Brown talked about how among the stories of the ordinary, often household names in te iwi, have been revealed the extraordinary lives of so many Ngāi Tahu people.
The book has been arranged by person/name, which Helen said gives a more nuanced history than a book based on themes or a more traditional history book arrangement, perhaps in alphabetical or chronological order. The order of the book does invoke a back-and-forth journey across time, with people from the 1800s to more recent times spread at random throughout the book. The effect embraces serendipity, with a mix of stunning, historical black-and-white photographs between more modern colour images drawing the reader into the rich history within.
Each biography had a limit of 1000 words, and editing to this limit Helen described as often excruciating. “Whole books are needed,” she said. Perhaps for individual whānau this book will plant the seed to pick up the stories and expand on them for their own tīpuna?
The biographies have been written by a team of writers, whose writing experience in this context Helen described as ranging from gathering the purely anecdotal to more academic pursuits. We were lucky to have some of the writers present in the team of speakers at the WORD event, and each speaker featured an individual from the book, giving the audience a summary of their whakapapa and life.
Robyn Walsh talked about her mother Dorothy Te Mahana Walsh of Ngāi Tahu and Ngāti Kahungunu decent, a leader heavily involved in the ‘hui hopping’ during the Waitangi Tribunal Hearings and a keen performer who travelled to San Francisco supporting the Te Māori exhibition. Robyn concluded “we need and must remember these histories and people.”
Others spoken about on the day were Amiria Puhirere – a stunning figure standing in her full-length korowai in the photo on page 86, she was a prominent leader and renowned weaver who lived at Ōnukū on the Akaroa Harbour; Trevor Hapi Howse – a major part of the research team that led the long work for Ngāi Tahu Te Kerēme/the Ngāi Tahu Waitangi Claim and a key figure in the Kā Huru Manu project; and William Te Paro Spencer – a seafaring kaumātua and muttonbirder, described as “proudly and strongly Ngāi Tahu” and “very much a Bluff local but wordly with it”.
As mentioned above, one of the strong features of the book are the photographs, many of which are from iwi archives and other private collections, and often have not been published or displayed outside the embrace of whānau before. It is clear that it is something special these photos are being shared not only with iwi whānui but with the whole country, and such a personal act of whakawhanaungatanga is to be valued and cherished.
Although the prime audience for the book is Ngāi Tahu tāngata there has been huge interest in it since media company The Spinoff published an article about Mere Harper, who helped setup the Plunket organisation. The audience has since become national and international, with a strong focus on the book’s contribution to the historical narrative of Aotearoa.
Funnyman Rhys Darby has teamed up with Scholastic in a fun new fiction series for kids. He talked to Christchurch City Libraries about his debut children’s book and reading interests, his passion for cryptozoology and his connections to Christchurch.
Darby joins other comedians like David Walliams and Australian Peter Helliar who have written children’s books. By Darby’s own admission, he has childlike sensibilities and this lends itself well to his writing.
“Loaded with unmistakably quirky and random Rhys humour, 12-year-old Buttons McGinty pens top secret scribbles in a collection of extraordinary notebooks, as he and his friends enter a universe unlike any they’ve seen before. Buttons has been shipped off to Ranktwerp Island Education Fortress for Gifted Lame Unruly Minors, a.k.a. R.I.E.F.G.L.U.M., a boarding school on a remote island, somewhere in the Pacific Ocean between New Zealand and Antarctica. His parents are missing under strange circumstances and there are bogus baddies and a burly bigfoot on the prowl.” (Scholastic press release)
Darby says the main character, a flame-haired 12-year-old, is a young spirited version of himself and that he used to dream about going on adventures as a kid but back then he could only go on such adventures in his head – lucky he had a big imagination. Darby’s three years spent in the army from the age of 17 also comes through in his children’s book with his use of Morse code and the military-like operations going on in the story. Darby describes the setting as like “an Alcatraz for kids.”
Who is the book for?
Darby kept his two young sons in mind (ages 8 and 12) when writing his book. He says he wrote it for anyone with a sense of humour. “It’s for reluctant readers or for fans of my work” and what’s more, he adds, “I wrote it to amuse myself – it had to be fun for me to do it.” It’s hard not to read the book without hearing his distinctive comedic voice in your head, making it feel as if he were reading it to you.
Aside from a bit of Morse code, the book is full of funny asides, drawings, lists, maps and speech bubbles. Darby says that breaking up writing like this makes reading easier and more appealing. The story is written with a sense of immediacy. Button’s journal writing addresses the reader and makes you feel as if you are there figuring out the mystery alongside him.
Rhys Darby’s interest in cryptozoology is evident in the book when a mysterious caged creature is snuck onto the island. He describes cryptozoology as “things unclassified by science that people don’t think exists – a pseudoscience.” “I’m a fan of the unknown,” he says and he co-hosts a long-running podcast on cryptozoology called The Cryptid Factor with the likes of wry Kiwi documentarian David Farrier.
Rhys, why cryptozoology? What sparked your interest and do you have any favourite creatures?
“You’re opening a can of worms asking about my interest in this but yes, ‘hairy humanoids’ like the Yeti, the Sasquatch and other upright walking things that seem to be human which aren’t human, like the Australian Yowie and also including human reptilian creatures and sea serpents like the Loch Ness monster.”
“I remember reading when I was a kid an Usborne book called Monsters, seeing that in the library – Pakuranga Library – and one of my favourites featured all the creatures that may exist and sparked my interest in the unknown. We haven’t solved all the things on the planet that need to be solved.”
What role did libraries play in your life?
“I was a big library goer, mum would let me choose 5 books – it was a ritual. It was a safe quiet place. I remember going to my school library at Elm Park Primary and getting obsessed with car magazines.”
When we spoke Rhys was planning to visit his old primary school to read to the kids there.
The Buttons character in your book is named after your mate Leon ‘Buttons’ Kirckbeck (from your projects the Cryptid Factor and Short Poppies)? Tell us more about the name ‘Buttons’ you chose?
“‘Buttons’ sort of alludes to someone who is very good at knowing how to push the buttons, being a bit of a tech whiz or having a knack for machinery – like in the movie Gravity when Sandra Bullock is trapped but just knows how to go in and tinker with things to save herself.”
Rhys, your children’s book is mainly available through Australasian distribution and there are a number of ‘down under’ references and slang in the book. You’ve got a great line in your book about Buttons trusting someone “as much as you trust a cheap pair of jandals.” What made you choose to ‘keep it local’ in your book?
“Since I have international pull I am in a position to keep and draw attention to our unique Kiwi ‘voice’ – like Taika Waititi does. Wouldn’t it be great if like, in the same way we accept the English world of Harry Potter, that we just accept things and it became like that on the other side of the world?”
Rhys has even managed to retain his kiwiness in the recent Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, as the voice of a villain called Hypno-Potamus).
“I trust him about as much as I trust a cheap pair of jandals” – quote from Buttons McGinty.
(Rhys obviously loves jandals – so much so he wrote a song about them!)
What did you learn from writing your first children’s book?
“To keep the humour coming in and not so much fantasy or action and also to keep it light so it’s not too dark, like the territory that Roald Dahl and Lewis Carroll get into.”
Obviously Book 2 is underway since Book 1 ends on a cliff-hanger and loose ends – and you hope to write up to 4-5 in the series once you see how this goes. What about a film adaptation?
“My dream would be that maybe the book series would get made into a movie and when I’m writing it I imagine it and am visualising it all.”
You’re so multi-talented… What drives you and motivates you?
“I have a creative brain and get bored easily if I’m not doing something creative and I enjoy entertaining.”
Is there nothing you won’t take up or try out? Conversely, what’s something you want to try your hand at – if you could wave a magic wand and just do it, what might it be?
“Nothing too dangerous like jumping out of a plane since I’ve got kids now and I don’t know when my luck will run out. I’ve had the opportunity to climb Mt Kilimanjaro – for charity – and ‘nearly died’. I was so sick so although I’ve since been asked to Everest, I’ve turned it down. But if I could wave a wand, I’d like to go back in time and be an explorer – like being in Cairo exploring tombs in the 1920s, just doing archaeological digs. And also I’d like to visit the Victorian days in England – like the gloomy time period of Jack the Ripper and perhaps solve the riddle of what happened.”
You’re already really interesting and diverse, but can you tell us something about yourself that we might not know?
Rhys (age 44): “Well, I like to skateboard. I have eight skateboards and got Tony Hawk to sign my son’s skateboard when I was working with him.”
What are you currently reading?
“I’m the sort of person with a stack of books on the bedside and read bits here and there but currently The Explorer’s Guildby Kevin Costner the actor (and Jon Baird) – it’s part novel/part graphic novel. It’s set around WWI and it’s a bit of a tome – it’s not an easy read but I like the idea of it. (A worthy but challenging read).
We know you like Spike Milligan and, as well as the non-fiction you’ve mentioned, what else did you read as a kid?
“I wasn’t a great reader when I was a kid but I did enjoy graphic novels like TinTin(because he was an adventurer) and Asterix – funny and involved time and I learnt about Romans ruling.”
You must be a fun dad! What are your children’s current favourite reads or things you like to read to them?
Rhys Darby spent some formative years living and studying in Christchurch. He attended the University of Canterbury, trained at Burnham Military Camp and did his early performances as a comedy duo in Lyttelton.
In your earlier autobiographical book This Way to Spaceship, you tell a funny story about being in the 1996 Christchurch Christmas Parade dressed as Mr. Blubby, a mascot to help advertise some sickly jelly concoction, but kids threw the jelly drinks at you and tipped you over. What other memories do you have from your time here?
“Christchurch was a time of awakening for me. I had my first girlfriend there, I had my first comedy gig there and went to Burnham Military Camp. I like going back to the places I remember and finding new places, visiting the park and visiting Canterbury University and also Lyttelton where I started with my friend Grant (Lobban) and my performing began (Rhysently Granted).”
Talking to Rhys Darby is a delight and a volley of conversation that can go in any direction. One thing that struck me was his way of thinking. “Just imagine” he says often or “I could imagine…” As you can imagine, he’s effusive and full of spark and creativity and his enthusiasm is refreshing and contagious. Rhys Darby certainly has cross-generational appeal. I have been looking forward to this book being published for a while, as both a children’s librarian and a parent of children in the target age group. I was already a fan of his comedy since his Flight of the Conchords days, but now I have children who enjoy his work too, in projects like Jumanji and Thunderbirds Are Go! With a children’s book in the mix, he’s growing a new fan base.
Darby’s first book is a winner! Borrow it, buy it, gift it! We look forward to finding out what happens next in Darby’s daring adventures in Book 2!
A large audience heard how Bishop spent several years researching for the book, which he says he really enjoyed, but was overwhelmed by the information he found.
One thing that struck him was the number of books that contradicted each other.
His challenge was how to find his own unique angle on the Endeavour story. As he looked through the names of the crew on the boat and their occupations, he began to wonder about the lesser-known members on board and was particularly struck by their curiously one-handed cook, John Thompson.
The story of the crew’s journey is told through food “as a point of context,” explains Bishop, with the cook as narrator. And, as his publisher Julia Marshall from Gecko Press notes “you can tell so many different stories through food—everything is here: culture, class, adventure, humour and much more.”
The Endeavour was originally the collier Earl of Pembroke and was designed for a crew of just 16 but when it sailed as the Endeavour it had 94 crew on board, packed in like sardines. And the meals were prepared on the mess deck where 74 men slept!
The cooking process on the Endeavour seemed to involve throwing everything together in a pot or bag and boiling it. Bishop says the meat became so rank that it was towed in a net behind the boat to soften it up and every second day was a vegetarian day consisting of Pease Porridge. To avoid scurvy, the cook served up stinky German cabbage. But all was not awful for the men, as it was noted how much booze was aboard the ship.
The book contains a little story about each of the countries the Endeavour visited and explains some of the names of the recipes featured such as Poor Knights Pudding, Stingray Soup, Kangaroo Stew, Dog and Breadfruit Stew and Albatross Stew “which you wouldn’t get away with today.” There were goats, dogs, pigs, sheep, cats and chickens on board. And when the ship crossed the equator everyone aboard, including the cats, were apparently tied to a chair and dipped into the water 3 times in an equator crossing ritual.
Bishop told his audience that there are two stories about the Endeavour that you won’t find anywhere else except in his book. One was told by Pete Beech, whose family was there in Picton when the Endeavour came with Cook, and tells the story of how a Māori woman was tricked into giving her taonga away for a bag of sugar. And the second story comes from an obscure poem that mentions a slave named Dalton on board who was a servant of botanist Joseph Banks. Like the Endeavour, not a centimetre of space in Bishop’s book was wasted, he says, and even the endpapers are full of illustrated facts.
At the book launch, Gecko Press were also celebrating 10 years of working with Bishop, starting with his collaboration for Joy Cowley in illustrating their successful Snake & Lizard. Marshall said what a treat it is working with Bishop: “Gavin is a true artist and very knowledgeable.” Gavin’s other book published in the past year is the illustratively stunning Aotearoa: The New Zealand Story.
Join international award-winning writer and illustrator Gavin Bishop and invited guests as we explore the Our Painted Stories exhibition and have a conversation about how seeing ourselves and our city in children’s literature helps grow a sense of identity. Wednesday 24th October 5:30-6:30pm Tūranga
Free, no bookings required Created in partnership with the Painted Stories Trust.
While visiting Tūranga, Gavin was delighted to discover a picture of his family on our Discovery Wall that even he didn’t have a copy of.
It is auspicious that just as Gavin Bishop was the first author to have a book launched at the old central library, he is also the first author to launch a book in the new library, Tūranga, 36 years later.
The Guardian has recently published an article about why American publishers sometimes change the titles of books. In fact they don’t only change titles, they will also change names, places and spelling. The writer from The Guardian doesn’t really have an answer to why this happens, but happen it does and can be confusing for library users – and librarians!
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon is a good example. It was originally published as Cross Stitch. Then there is The Northern Lights by Philip Pullman which became The Golden Compass, and Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone became Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Looking at these titles, it is hard to understand why they were changed. It is a tricky business though, as often it can look like your favourite author has published a new book only to be met with disappointment when the story starts to feel very familiar!
When a new title is given to a book, our wonderful cataloguers always add an entry to the catalogue record that lets you know that the book has two titles.
Notes: Also published as: Cross stitch. London : Rowan, 1992.
Notes: Originally published as: Northern lights. London : Scholastic, 1995.
And whatever title you type in will take you to the correct book.
With WORD Christchurch Festival at the forefront of my mind at the moment, having bought my tickets yesterday (and by the way the session Motherhood is selling out fast [SOLD OUT now! Ed.] ) I was intrigued to find an article by UK author Natasha Carthew about an idea for a Working Class Writers Festival in Britain.
On 12th July, Carthew tweeted to her 1,700 followers: “Comrades! This is a call to arms – we’ve got to get ourselves a #WorkingClassWriters Lit Fest! I’ve been doing the circuit and we’re a bit underrepresented int we?”
Carthew, who has written three books of poetry, and two YA books published by Bloomsbury, wants to ensure that publishing recognises writing from across the social spectrum.
She said: “I think it’s really important to enhance, encourage and increase representation from working class backgrounds, which can be quite underrepresented at other literary festivals. I feel we are an equally talented group of people that do not get enough exposure, young people from similar backgrounds especially need to have something to aspire to, something that is reflective of their society and writers they can relate to and look up to.”
The first thoughts that came to mind are would we have such a thing here, would we call it “Working Class”, do we think of class in the same way that they do in Britain? I grew up in a home where we referred to ourselves (proudly I might add) as Working Class, but it is not something you hear much today in New Zealand.
Join contributors to last year’s superb anthology of Oceanic writing, Black Marks on the White Page, for a roundtable discussion for Māori and Pasifika writers. Co-editor Tina Makereti, who worked on the book with Witi Ihimaera, will be joined by Victor Rodger, Nic Low, Paula Morris and Tusiata Avia to share tips on writing, and for a talanoa on the challenges and opportunities facing writers in Aotearoa and internationally.
Aberhart starts here (by senior curator Dr Lara Strongman with Laurence Aberhart) is the companion book to the exhibition (on until 6 February 2018 – don’t miss it). The striking cover cleverly matches Aberhart’s photo with the title added to the building as if it were graffiti, or a business name (in that attractive and distinctive typeface used in the exhibition). The text and the photos have been given room to breathe on the page. It’s a beautiful book with a kind of stately gravitas.
Christchurch Art Gallery have also made some rather stunning “Little Books” – (Birds, Sea, Flowers, Black – highlighting taonga from their collection. The covers are gorgeous, and the books have coloured page edges, foil, and ribbons to mark your page. Swoon.
The publication Bulletin always has outstanding covers to match its great content and striking internal visuals. The colour scheme and Ann Shelton’s art on the cover of the latest issue are a visual symphony. B.189 had The Ramones on the cover!
Credit for this great mahi also goes to:
The students from the graphic design department at the Ilam School of Fine Arts who do the design on Bulletin;
Lecturer Aaron Beehre who is art director for Bulletin and who also designed the Little Books;
Photographer John Collie;
Designer Peter Bray who worked on the Aberhart and Fahey books.
Illustrator Giselle Clarkson has had a phenomenal year. Her art is full of life and fun. She created the much-shared biccies and slices taxonomy in Annual 2. Giselle does brilliant work in The Sapling, school journals – in all sorts of places and on wide range of topics (her natural history comics are fab). Kei runga noa atu – I would love to see a whole book by Giselle!
I particularly like the timeless quality of the first three covers. The historical tourist poster vibe of Maria McMillan’s The Sky Flier is quite striking too.
Black and white and photographic
Photos are always a popular way of attracting a reader. I love the energy in Victor Rodger’s Black Faggot, showing the play in performance. and see that sense of motion and action in Floating Islander, Oxygen, and The Treaty on the Ground. In contrast see the stillness of Elspeth Sandys’ portrait, and the calm library depicted on the cover of The Expatriates.
Magenta, lavender, pinky-purple – New Zealand book covers this year showed a bit of trend towards the pink side. I for one love it. (Update: Spinoff books mentions book covers in their Second annual Spinoff Review of Books literary awards and picks the cover of Baby by Annaleese Jochems designed by Keely O’Shannessy as best cover).
Te Reo Māori
Original NZ books in te reo Māori, and also translations of classics. It’s grand to see te reo front and centre.
Aotearoa’s first bookface cover?
Tom Scott might be the first author to do a sort of #bookface cover. Well, technically, more #illustrationface – either way it’s a great cover.
Cute as heck
Finally, let’s place together two critters that ought not be proximate. They are both so phenomenally cute …
Facebook knows fake news is a real issue so how do we know what is going on? Can we trust the news media? Is the newspaper, if you still read it, worth the paper it is printed on? Can you trust Facebook not to be feeding you fake news to your profile?
If you turn to social media, you soon discover hoaxes spread virally across every platform. So where do you go for reliable news, and how do you know what you are reading is real? Who is telling the truth out there?
Time for the Truthiness Test
Is it up to date? Has it been verified?
If it has just happened, there may not have been time to verify events as they occur. Check at intervals throughout the day to see if further reports clarify the situation and read other news sources to see how they are interpreting events. Try if possible to get first person reports from people on the ground rather than sources from half a world away where the events may be misinterpreted. Some news agencies will republish or rehash old news that may not be relevant to the current situation until they can get the full story. If it was posted or published a while ago does it still stand up and add to the overall picture.
Who wrote it and why?
Every story is written with a different readership in mind. Why was this story written and for whom? Do they want to entertain or to sell you something? Is it free of bias? What does the contact us information on the website tell you about the organisation that published it and what they stand for? Does the website tell you about their writers? Are they qualified to comment? Try googling the author to see what else they have published. Is the story written in a way that is trying to sway you to their point of view? How do your own beliefs affect the way you read the article and how you interpret it.
Have you checked it?
Take a look at some other news sources to check if they have a different interpretation of events. Does the URL tell you anything about the source of the information? Is it from a trusted organisation government source or educational institution? Do they have links to supporting sources or does it look like speculation? If they do have links, check them out to see where they got their information from. If they don’t state their sources they may be being paid to spread this information. Is the story overstating the facts or using outrageous headlines to get you reading it? Is it a joke? Although sometimes truth is stranger than fiction it might be a satire or a joke, so take a look at the About us section of the website to be sure.
The International Herald Tribune Historical Archive, 1887-2013 features the complete archive of the International Herald Tribune from its origins as the European edition of The New York Herald and later the European edition of the New York Herald Tribune. The archive ends with the last issue of the International Herald Tribune before its relaunch as the International New York Times. The International Herald Tribune Historical Archive, 1887-2013 charts the history of the 20th century from luxury travel and opulent entertainment, to international conflicts, the spread of American culture abroad and globalisation.
The 17th and 18th Century Nichols Newspapers Collection features the newspapers, periodicals, pamphlets and broadsheets that form the Nichols newspaper collection held at the Bodleian library in Oxford, UK. All 296 volumes of bound material, covering the period 1672-1737 are presented in digitised format here.
This collection charts the history of the development of the press in England and provides invaluable insight into 17th-18th century England.
All the seats were taken and the truly dedicated stood for an hour to listen to people talk about poetry at Scorpio Books on Thursday the 26th of January.
The chance to hear poet and world renowned poetry scholar Stephen Burt in a conversation with Victoria University Press editor Fergus Barrowman, chaired by University of Canterbury Professor of English Paul Millar, explained the impressive turnout and they did not disappoint.
Millar’s relaxed chairing – “I’m going to ask you a question and you can say whatever you like” – let the conversation range freely and some interesting stuff emerged. The visits of American poet Robert Creeley influenced New Zealand poetry markedly; ” an accident of history that had unforeseen consequences”. I am ashamed to say I had never heard of him.
So how much does the Internet change poetry and reading? A lot. Burt and Barrowman agreed that current sensation Hera Lindsay Bird would not exist without the Internet and its international no cost distribution. But Unity Books in Wellington has also sold large numbers of print copies of her book.
Where will the ‘not hip’ poets be read? No-one knows. Burt is sure that the Internet makes it easier for everyone in the room last night to access poetry from other countries.
Burt was off to the The Bats (New Zealand poetry, with its “agreement groups not large enough to live in”, was compared to the Flying Nun bands earlier in proceedings) so there was time for just a couple of questions. In the event there was only one and I can report that Bob Dylan was not shaped by Minnesota literary culture.
Thanks to the University of Canterbury College of Arts and WORD Christchurch for a very stimulating event. I’ll be keeping an eye out for others.
I confess I didn’t read all of the books in my eyewateringly large pile of holiday reads. But I accidentally went all #AotearoaReads and it was ACE.
First up, I finished Can you tolerate this? Personal essays by Ashleigh Young. She tells stories about her family and relationships, but also little histories that have captured her imagination – a boy with a rare skeletal disease, a French postman and his project with stones. This combination of the personal and something more expansive (in both space and time) is a winner. I gave this book to my little sister at Christmas time, and she has whisked it away to London (where today it is snowing). She’s going to love it.
Editors Jolisa Gracewood and Susanna Andrew have again created a brilliant buffet of thoughts and words. You can dip in anywhere and read something that’ll grip you to the last full stop. It’s joyously diverse in topic – kererū, Rugby World Cups, tikanga, Hudson and Halls. It is also geographically varied. The stories are not just set in Aotearoa but range from London to Iceland as well as Kiwi locales like Poplar Avenue and Ashdown Place.
Tell you what reminds me of listening to Radio New Zealand. You’ll find yourself deeply immersed in something you never knew about, and didn’t know you were interested in. That’s magic.