Scoop Review of Books

Archive for March, 2010

Book on NZ’s Threatened Plants

Press Release

With one in 13 of New Zealand’s native plants threatened with extinction, the authors of a new book hope to make Kiwis more aware of their plight.

Threatened Plants of New Zealand, published by Canterbury University Press, is a comprehensive, up-to-date account of New Zealand’s six extinct and 184 severely threatened native flora.

Combining precise botanical descriptions with lavish illustrations, the book provides an assessment of the degree of risk to each species, gives an explanation of the nature of those risks, looks at current conservation strategies and provides the characteristics of each plant for identification in the field. The book also includes distribution maps to show where the plants can be found and a full glossary of terms.

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Solomon Islands Women In Print

Contributors Mylyn Kuve, Dr Alice Aruhe'eta Pollard, Catherine Adifaka, Taeasi Sanga, Ethel Sigimanu, Betty Fakarii and professor Marilyn Waring. Photo: PMC

By Josephine Latu

When Solomon Islanders at the launch of Being the First were each handed a copy of the book, the general reaction was one of “awe”.

The book is the first ever to document the lives of leading Solomon Island women from their own point of view, and the first published historical account of achievements by local women over the past 50 years.

It was launched in New Zealand yesterday at AUT University.

“They all kind of picked it up and held it close to them – bringing it to their chest. It was quite emotional,” says Suzanne Bent-Gina in Honiara, describing how women responded when given a copy of the book to keep – free.

Bent-Gina, deputy director of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands’ (RAMSI) Machinery of Government programme, helped organise the book project as part of its component on women in government.

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Frenetic Schama Fills Town Hall

By Keir Wotherspoon

There is a frenetic energy to Simon Schama when he talks about history, the kind of energy that you might expect from a highly excitable child caught in the ecstasy of their very favourite topic rather than a Cambridge-trained professor of Modern History. Schama appeared on Friday as part of the International Festival of the Arts Writers and Readers Festival, one of two talks that he was scheduled to speak at, and his only solo appearance.

During Friday’s sell-out session in the Wellington Town Hall, he nimbly darted in and out of the questions from interviewer Sean Plunket. Schama’s hands became so animated at one point that he whacked off his own lapel microphone, which had become so tangled that it forced him into a hunched position. “If I were a leprechaun, it’d be perfect,” he quipped to his audience, who even before the incident had perhaps noted something leprechaun-like in their lively speaker.

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John Newton a Stout Fellow


Poet and academic John Newton new JD Stout Fellow

Victoria University’s 2010 JD Stout Fellow will explore the contribution of Jewish refugees from Hitler’s Germany, among other war-time immigrants, to New Zealand’s national identity and culture.

Dr John Newton is a poet, critic and academic as well as the author of the highly‐acclaimed book, The Double Rainbow: James K. Baxter, Ngati Hau and the Jerusalem Commune published last year by Victoria University Press.

As the JD Stout Fellow, Dr Newton will be based at Victoria’s Stout Research Centre for New Zealand Studies where he will conduct research for a new book about immigration to New Zealand at the time of World War Two.

He plans to explore the contribution made by such immigration to the development of New Zealand culture.

“War‐time immigrants, including Jewish refugees from Hitler’s Germany, played a key role in the growth of national culture from the mid‐1930s to the late‐1960s,” says Dr Newton.

Until this year Dr Newton has been based in the English Department at the University of Canterbury, where he has taught New Zealand and American Literature, Poetry and Reading Culture.

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Lost in History

Zone of the Marvellous: In Search of the Antipodes by Martin Edmond
Auckland University Press, 2007. Reviewed by SCOTT HAMILTON

Over the last couple of decades Martin Edmond has won critical acclaim and a considerable readership with a books that combine autobiography, history, and fiction. Edmond’s 1992 breakthrough book The Autobiography of My Father is a study of his own grief as well as a reconstruction of his father’s passage through postwar provincial New Zealand society; his wonderful 1999 volume The Resurrection of Philip Clairmont combines a hallucinatory journey in search of the late painter’s surviving canvases with memories of the recklessly experimental life Clairmont lived in the 1970s; Chronicles of the Unsung, which was published in 2004, moves between accounts of youthful wanderings in America, Europe and the Pacific and meditations on the fates of Rimbaud and Van Gogh; and the baroque masterpiece Luca Antara mixes memories of the seedy side of Sydney in the ‘70s and ‘80s with the bizarre and violent story of the first European visits to Australia.
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